Recently, I’ve not been too well. A stomach thing which turned into a horrible thing.
Pain that left me prostrate on the floor, often weeping. It would come without warning, and then leave again just as fast, leaving me exhausted, unable to eat, uncomfortable. Fearful.
The Pain was one thing, but the Fear was another.
Fear of when it would return, Fear of leaving the house just in case, but mostly, Fear of its cause. I became consumed. I researched my symptoms obsessively. I cut food out of my diet, gave up dairy, wheat, spicy food. (I didn’t give up wine of course. I was scared, but I wasn’t that scared).
I constantly thought of the worst case scenario. Fear consumed me. The Fear was huge in my mind.
After much prodding, poking, scanning and pints of blood, it’s nothing serious. Just a dodgy gallbladder. It needs to come out.
And just like that, the Fear was gone.
Why? Two reasons.
The Fear went away because I had knowledge, information, power. I was able to make a plan. Ignorance feeds fears. They thrive in the gaps of knowledge and communication. Knowing nothing is scary. Information, knowledge, truth. They set you free. If the news is bad, good, indifferent or unexpected, knowledge is control. Knowledge gives you power.
This applies to the employment and organisational context too, not just the health one. Think of the employee who has heard the rumours of redundancy, closure, merger. Even if they find out that yes, their position is impacted, you can finally plan, take action, own the situation.
You can’t guarantee the future. You can’t always have good news. But you can tell your employees the truth, even if it is unpalatable. Yes, a few might exit stage left, by either scouring the job adverts or just engaging a bit less. But most of them will thank you for it, dig in with you and endure the tough times. They will recognise your authenticity.
Leaders. Take away as much fear as you can. Tell the truth, unless you have got a very good reason not to.
One final thing. The second reason that the fear has gone, is that I have booked into a hospital that has WIFI. Apparently I was the first person to ever ring up and ask this. Maybe I should reflect on that a little…. but I probably won’t!