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Hot Tips for Moving from Fear to Empowered Workplace Culture

I’ve been talking about facing fear as an individual for the last few days. Today, let’s talk about fear in the workplace and what impact and culture that creates. More importantly, let’s talk about how to have Curiosity and Courage take Fear by the hand and go skipping down the road together singing Kumbaya, and how to turn the Fear Culture into the Empowered Culture!!!

As I have sat and listened to friends throughout the pandemic, or reflected on work places I have been exposed to, I was shocked at what I have heard or experienced. Here are a few examples for you to ponder. These are cultures where innovation, creativity and agility go to die a horrific and nasty death (unless YOU change them: yes, I am virtually looking at you):

  1. Forcing staff to log toilet breaks when working from home during the pandemic

  2. A CEO in a room full of people in a meeting screaming at individual staff members that they are f***ing idiots

  3. One boss screaming over the top of office partitions for their junior team member

  4. Project stream leaders fearful or uncomfortable about proactively giving deadlines

  5. Tracking 70 different KPIs for Sales staff, they are no longer KEY Performance Indicators if there is that many. Also how can any individual work through all that?

  6. A partner in an accounting practice making inappropriate comments to a Junior Accountant

  7. Offshore finance teams being fearful to ask how to process invoices, or even how to attempt to process invoices that are not a standard use case

  8. Using the pandemic as a means to generate fear and uncertainty for people to work more or they will lose their jobs

We can all agree most people don’t go to work to do a bad job. Do you recognise any of this in your workplace? What do all these have in common? LACK OF TRUST. Lack of trust from leadership to employee, lack of trust from employee to leadership. You can change this! After all, we spend most of our lives in work mode, so why not make it a great place full of learning, growth and accomplishment for each person? Joyful Work Cultures are not created with a fooseball or ping pong table. It is not created with just some mini muffins or fruit baskets each week either. This is my take on how you can achieve this. Of course, if you need a little extra help, reach out and let me help you create a joyful creative workplace!

Step 1 – Exploration (Get Uncomfortable!)

I believe the beginning of the journey to conquer Fear in the Workplace is to take a look at why there is fear and where it is coming from. As a leader it may be holding the mirror up to yourself and looking at what is causing YOU fear, as that will ripple out and impact your wider organisation. As an employee, hold up that mirror and look at why you feel uncomfortable or afraid. Holding up the mirror is terrifying, I know, but grab your friends, Courage & Curiosity, and take Fear by the hand and go exploring.

Step 2 – Raison d'être (Common Goals & Common Values)

What is your ultimate Why as an organisation? Have you identified and communicated the common goal you are all working toward? Nothing bonds people like having a common focus!

Have you identified your core values as an organisation? Core Values become the framework to operate under. Living the core values each day bring them to life for employees, for your customers and for your brand. It has such a wide ripple effect. Some of my favourites are Empowerment, Creativity, Accountability and Agile.

Step 3 – Understand Yourself & Your People

Understand who you are as a leader. Where do you love to spend your energy to make the biggest impact? Do you have a balanced leadership function based around energy for impact? Create the perfect balance for your organisation to delight your teams, your customers and your market.

Understand your organisation through understanding your people; after all they drive your revenue, connect with your customers, are the essence of your brand. Through understanding your people and where they are best suited to spend energy, they can make the biggest impact for your business. When people are doing the right jobs, they are happier, they are more productive, and work becomes a place that brings fulfilment, purpose and joy. Ultimately they will make the biggest impact for you.

My favourite tool for this is the GC Index, or the Game Changing Index. It’s the only people tool that can help you identify where you and your people make the biggest impact for organisations! There are loads of personality tests but let’s be honest – while they are great at telling you what you are, one thing they all miss is telling you where you’re most effective aligned to a true business cycle. Get in touch as I am a registered GCologist and I can empower you and your teams to spend your energy in the right place making massive amounts of impact for your business.

Step 4 – Build Trust through Being Vulnerable

Who doesn’t love a good Trust exercise of falling backwards and hoping someone catches you, or if you are one of the teams I have worked with, a blindfolded assault course with your team mates leading you through treacherous terrain? Now it doesn’t have to be as extreme as either of those; it could be just be a little different, and here are a few of my favourites:

Highly recommended:

  • A monthly / weekly / fortnightly F*** Up Championship where you get to admit to stuff you screwed up without judgment and talk about your learnings or ask for help

  • Morning meditation – allowing team members space for 5 minutes to kick off their day will make them more productive, and doing it as a group makes it even more powerful.

  • Walking Meetings for your 1-2-1s – being outside in nature can help you be more connected, it also gives you inspiration as it is a different perspective

  • Lying on the floor with your legs in the air, calms your parasympathetic nervous system, but also gives you a different perspective!

  • Saying thank you and being explicit about what that person did. A generic thanks for the hard work doesn't cut it, it just shows you don't care enough to even understand the difference that person is making!


  • Regular team gatherings for fun and celebration are important for creating bonds and understanding people outside of high pressure situations.

  • Team sports and activities – nothing builds trust and bond like competition!

Step 5 - Liberating Structure

Structure: I just love it. It’s a huge part of why I love Agile methodology, or agile systems as my husband says. ‘Liberating structure’ is rituals with proper organisation, clear agendas, strong facilitation. This creates space for people to collaborate and deliver together because the structure allows for creativity, agility and accountability. Some of my favourite liberating structures and rituals are:

  • Clearly defined and communicated Roles and Responsibilities for team members – when everyone is clear on what the expectations are they can get more comfortable in delivering and making a difference

  • Kanban Boards of Activities – this way everyone can understand where each other is, driving collaboration, support and accountability

  • Daily scrum meetings – to understand where people are against their Kanban activities, and what help they need to be successful

  • Wider Organisational Huddles – showcase the awesome around the organisation! Let different people present each time to build their confidence and show off their great work

  • RETROSPECTIVES – MY MOST FAVOURITE – how do you grow if you don’t reflect, accept what didn’t go so well and fix it??? What Went Well and it would be Even Better If we did this other thing. It is a hugely powerful tool in the arsenal to grow as an organisation, to grow as individuals, to grow as an agile, empowered culture.

These are some of my key success tips. Cultivating a culture takes care, effort and hard work but it is so rewarding when you feel the shift. It is felt by your teams, your customers and your bottom line. If you want some thought partnership or some hands on help, get in touch and let’s create an inspirationally transformative space for your teams to thrive, not survive!


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