Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What fear drives you?

I noticed it most dramatically when one day I spoke to a group of business owners and the next day to a group of employees. Even though these employees were senior executives and in many cases second-in-charge they were still employees. And they had the perspective of employees and thought like employees. They lived employee fears.

What am I talking about?

The key difference in people is what they fear the most. And that determines the way they act. Because it is that fear which drives you, determines your decisions and sets your values.

What is the greatest fear of small to medium-size business owners?

It is the fear that they might not be able to make the payroll.

I have heard this fear repeated often. It no longer surprises me to hear this. These are not selfish people; they fear the huge responsibility they have taken for the lives of their employees. It wakes them up in the middle of the night. It is on their mind for every major decision they make.

Contrast that with the greatest fear of employees.

They fear that they might lose their job. Every major and some minor decisions are based on mitigating this fear. Every meeting they attend, every project they lead and every performance review is overshadowed by this fear.

If you know this then you will realize that employees will never reach their potential because that would only expose them to more risk.

When you understand the fears of people then you will understand better and predict the decisions that they will make.

George Torok

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