Workplace stress is common—especially in the current unpredictable environment. But did you know that common work-related fears may be preventing you from career advancement? In LiveCareer’s latest Fears and Phobias at Work study, 87% of respondents admit suffering from work-related worries. Furthermore, 81% confess that their fears and phobias have adversely affected their job.
Consistent anxiety in the workplace can not only stand in the way of professional development, but it can also negatively impact your relationships with managers and co-workers. In addition, work-related fears can decrease motivation and overall engagement. If you experience any of these symptoms, addressing them is essential so they don’t interfere with your ability to thrive at work.
When LiveCareer asked survey respondents to share specific workplace concerns, seven were mentioned most often. By facing the most common work-related fears head-on, you can prevent them from hindering your professional growth.
The fear of decision-making can be paralyzing in the workplace. If this is one of your work-related fears, it may be because you are afraid of making the wrong choice. Just remember though, not making a choice is a decision in itself. So instead, start small and test out a decision-making framework. A simple approach is to examine your options and the benefits, costs and mitigations. Then once you explore the issue from all angles, make an informed choice.
Team members need to take charge to further the organization’s mission. Yet sometimes, we fear the ramifications if we do assume responsibility. For instance, you might lack clarity and are afraid of underperforming. To deal with this, work with your manager to build a career roadmap that helps put your efforts into context. It’s also a good idea to set short-term goals and reasonable timelines. Taking that approach will make you more likely to set yourself up for success.
Speaking in public is among the most common work-related fears that limit career opportunities. Even billionaire investor Warren Buffett credits much of his success to a $100 Dale Carnegie public speaking course for college students. In Harvard Business Review, executive speech coach Sarah Gershman suggests these steps to become a proficient public speaker:
- Think about your audience when preparing
- Refocus your brain right before you speak
- Make eye contact while speaking
Gershman also recommends approaching public speaking with generosity rather than dread. In the end, the more you practice, the more proficient you will become.
With layoff announcements coming out each week, it’s unsurprising that more people are apprehensive about their jobs. The fear of getting fired may even have caused you to take on additional projects to show your value. The first step is to determine whether the fear is rational or irrational. Talking with your manager to see where you stand is always a good idea. If the thought of getting let go impacts your performance, it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, turn your fear into motivation by expanding your skill set and proactively looking for external roles. By doing that, you’ll be prepared if the worst happens.
Making a mistake
Making workplace mistakes can be scary, especially if you feel layoffs looming. Or maybe you’re a perfectionist who constantly worries about what might go wrong. Just know that errors will happen. It’s all in how you handle them. When something goes awry, remain calm and let someone know before it becomes a bigger problem. Rather than trying to avoid it, acknowledge your mistake, capture lessons learned and move on.
Being disliked by co-workers or boss
It’s human to look for approval in one way or another. This desire can be especially prevalent at work, where we spend most of our time. But trying too hard to be liked can backfire. For one thing, it can make you seem insincere. Worrying about being disliked can also be emotionally draining and keep you from unlocking your full potential. Recognize that whether you are likable is largely out of your control. Instead, focus on being authentic and doing good work. If you must stand up for yourself, do so respectfully and professionally.
Not being able to handle the workload
The stress caused by work overload can lead to exhaustion and burnout. Given the recent workforce reductions and the many “layoff survivors” left behind to pick up the slack, this concern is becoming even more widespread. If you are struggling and find that your productivity is declining due to the quantity of work, it’s time to have a conversation with your manager. Make an effort to partner with your boss to prioritize what is most urgent and determine whether there is anything you can delegate. Rather than complaining, explain that you want to develop creative solutions to benefit the organization.
Work-related fears can creep up at any moment. The key is to identify them early and develop coping mechanisms so that they don’t interfere with your personal and professional growth. That way, when the right advancement opportunity presents itself, you’ll be ready.