Fear of failure of an employee: The success of any business depends on many factors, most of which are self-evident. Issues with productivity, turnover and the presence of tools all determine the efficiency within the company and the way in which it is operated. Nevertheless, other less obvious factors also play an important role – such as the emotional state of employees.
One of the biggest obstacles for companies that want to achieve growth is fear of failure among employees. An employee with fear of failure not only blocks the evolution of the company. But also encounters personal difficulties when it comes to functioning in the workplace. It is crucial for the company and employee himself that the manager or self-employed person deals properly with this.
Employee fear of failure is due to many reasons, what can be done about it and what role does the employer play in that process? All questions that undoubtedly require a clear answer can be found in the overview below!
The causes of fear of failure
Fear of failure is a clear concept but above all a human trait. Fear of failure always comes from a lack of self-confidence, but that lack can, of course, have several causes. And they deserve a little more explanation:
Education has a huge influence on the self-development of children and how they later deal with emotions and situations. Both in personal and work life. For example. If parents never let their child do something themselves, this can quickly translate to a lack of self-confidence during childhood – and fear of failure at work.
That, of course, does not alter the fact that some people are more susceptible to low self-confidence than others. Even if they have had a similar upbringing. Each character is different and has its own unique characteristics. A child who is naturally reserved and questions his/her own ideas and actions will be more likely to suffer from fear of failure.
Unexpected events or trauma
Finally, the influence of unexpected events (or even trauma) in the observer’s life should not be underestimated. No matter how self-assured a person may be self-assured no matter. Just one situation in which he or she has “failed” can trigger a chain reaction to negative thoughts, making it much more difficult for that person to believe in themselves from that moment on.
The working environment itself
Finally, uncertainty or fear of failure can also originate in the workplace itself. For example, if employees are treated with disrespect, in the form of bullying or exploitation, this may negatively affect the self-confidence of that person. Fear of failure is in many cases the inevitable consequence of this.
The symptoms of fear of failure
Fear of failure is of course not an unambiguous concept but a very elusive and human emotion. It is nevertheless possible to determine whether someone suffers from a fear of failure or if it is based on a number of symptoms. As an employer, it is very important to take this into account – because in the end, employees are human and not machines that perform a set of assignments without thinking. Some of the most common symptoms are:
An employee who does not believe that he or she successfully completes something will not, in the first place, accept that challenge. Employees who have passive behaviour traits are very often considered lazy or disinterested, but more often than not employees are simply afraid of failing. It is important that the passive attitude of the person in question is further investigated so that the real cause can be traced.
Chaotic behaviour and thinking
Another symptom of low self-esteem and therefore the fear of failure is chaotic behaviour. Someone who is afraid of failing in his or her work will more often than others have negative thoughts. They not only have a paralyzing effect but can also result in carelessness and chaotic behaviour in the workplace. After all, the more energy that such thoughts absorb, the less energy can be given to the correct execution of assignments. Arriving late and not properly completing tasks often testify to laziness, but fear of failure can also be the cause. Other reasons why these symptoms may exsits?
Cannot accept compliments
If an employee does not believe in himself, it is virtually impossible for that person to accept good feedback. This is one of the most underestimated symptoms of fear of failure, but must certainly be taken into account by employers. Having trouble accepting compliments is a signal that something is wrong with the self-image of the person in question, and an employer must respond accordingly.
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What can the manager do?
Fear of failure is clearly a mental block that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the person in question to fully develop within the work environment. Although the responsibility of course still lies with the employee himself, the supervisor can nevertheless contribute to the entire process. There are several ways in which that can happen:
Offer a listening ear
It is important for the employer that he listens to the employee in question. Talking about feelings and the cause of those feelings may seem like a waste of time. But it is essential if a pleasant, supportive working atmosphere is to be created. It is a good idea to sit together with the employee in question and ask those questions: what do you feel when you are offered a certain task? Why do you think you have so much trouble with fear of failure? In this way, both parties come to new insights.
Once the employer understands the employee, it is a matter of offering the right tools. This is possible, for example, by first giving small, less challenging assignments, which increases the self-confidence of the employee if he succeeds. Practical matters can also help, such as technological innovations that help the employee to complete his or her task, or even an app to make the planning of assignments clearer. More ideas on how to help your employees adapt can be found here
Fear of failure usually has an internal cause, the role of colleagues should certainly not be underestimated. Problems often arise between employees due to incomprehension or ignorance about each other and that must, therefore, be eliminated. The employer has the responsibility to improve the understanding between employees, for example by having them undertake a conversation or activity together. In this way, the employee with fear of failure will also feel better supported and more able to deal with that fear.
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The most important learning objectives of the employee with fear of failure
No matter how much the circumstances, environment and other people may contribute to the development process of the employee with fear of failure, it is ultimately still important that the person goes through an evolution. When it comes down to it, it is a matter of taking practical steps and thus gaining a stronger self-confidence. However great the resistance caused by the fear of failure may be. Below some useful tips for the employee himself:
Learn to make choices faster
One of the characteristics of someone with a fear of failure is to want to get to know all the details when making a choice, in the hope that this will bring out the perfect solution or the ideal answer. There are no perfect answers and often the process of choosing such employees takes so long that ultimately nothing happens. Learning to tie the knot faster in the workplace not only translates into more time, but it will also give the employee the feeling that he or she is indeed capable of making important decisions.
It is acceptable to ask for help
It is also essential that the employee learns to ask for help from colleagues and employers. Shame and embarrassment often make that very difficult, but it is certainly important to make progress. Not only will this person be able to complete assignments faster and better, he or she will also feel much more supported in the work environment. And that of course only benefits the productivity of that person and the success of the company.
A good overview is worth gold
Fear of failure exists or does not exist, but certain circumstances can magnify its destructive effects. Such as a lack of overview. With maintained overview, the employee will consider himself much better able to perform tasks. After all, the order in the office or workshop also brings mental peace and that is precisely what employees with fear of failure need. So keeping the office or desk in order is one of the best things an employee can do to work himself out of the negative spiral of fear of failure.
Allow less to be more
Don’t set the bar too high for employees with fear of failure, on the other hand, they too are largely responsible for this. Accepting an almost impossible assignment and trying to finish it with great difficulty, so as not to succeed, will only weaken their confidence. It is better to start small and finish the task successfully, rather than having too big ambitions. Both the employee himself and the company as a whole will only benefit from such an approach.
Who are we?
Milltain supports, with a team of experienced trainers, organizations in the prevention of stress and the (re) finding of work happiness in the workplace. Our training courses are aimed at managers within companies. A burnout quickly costs the organization € 70,000.
In addition to financial suffering, human suffering is great. Not only for the employee but also for close colleagues who have to deal with the blows. Before you know it you are in a negative vicious circle.
Do you want an effective approach to the prevention of stress and burnout (instead of continuously extinguishing fires). We are happy to inform you about our stress prevention training.