As we head into the final quarter of 2012, I'm sensing a lot of angst. People are fearful about the economy and they're uncertain about whether things are getting better. I asked American workers, small business owners and top execs about their biggest concerns and shared them with readers in my column today.....
I'd love to hear what concerns are on your mind!
Workplace fright grips South Florida workers
We asked South Floridians what scares them the most about the workplace and we asked experts how to manage those fears.
By Cindy Krischer Goodman
Behind the masks and scary costumes this Halloween are American workers with real fear about what the last few months of the year will bring.
Workplace fright has gripped everyone from top executives to desk clerks. It ranges from fear of being fired to concerns about hitting performance goals or losing business to a competitor.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty out there in this business climate and that has created a lot of fear,” says Ryan Skubis, Florida district director for staffing agency Robert Half International.
A new survey by Accountemps, a Robert Half company, shows it is not ghosts, goblins or even public speaking that scare workers most — it’s making a mistake on the job. This angst stems from scaled down workplaces where workers now do the job of two, three or four workers. “People are putting so much pressure on themselves,” Skubis says. “They have a lot on their plates and they don’t see a lot of hope for slowing down.”
An effective fear buster is open communication with a manager or client. Instead of hiding mistakes, a worker should feel it is okay to fess up, suggest ways to correct the situation or ask for guidance, he says. “Mistakes happen all the time. Even leaders make mistakes. It is how we go about fixing them that matters.”
At the top levels, executives say they fear falling short of year-end projections. In some businesses, profits in prior years came from cost-cutting. Now, with little left to cut, revenue increases depend on growth and in some cases, it’s not there. Alex Trujillo, a senior manager at a wireless company, says the year has been more volatile for sales than expected. Now, he’s worried people won’t spend in the traditionally stronger fourth quarter and shareholders will be disappointed. “It’s a realistic and widespread concern.”
Trujillo’s fear of disappointing numbers trickles down to managers at all levels in businesses, says Kathi Elster, a management consultant and executive coach. They are afraid of new management coming in and making changes. As companies try to rebound, some workers are concerned about a younger person with specific technological skills replacing them, Elster says.
Elster suggests managing this fear by staying ahead. “Get active in your industries, attend conferences find out what’s coming in your field and get trained in it.” You may have to spend your own time and money doing this, she says. “It’s your insurance policy. That’s the world we’re in today.”