Learn To Clear The Fear For Better Team Decisions

In business, the team that makes the best decisions usually wins. Companies know this, and apply rigorous research and analysis to get to the right outcome.

The problem is that the process and facts are often trumped by emotion and bias; and FEAR overwhelms opportunity.

This is especially true when companies make buying decisions. Fear feeds on change like a hurricane over warm water, and every sourcing project presents a myriad of potential change: in pricing, in terms, in vendors, in solutions, and in strategy.-

This means that every major purchase is an opportunity to limit the impact of fear on the company. Containing fear will save money, and will have a strategic and cultural impact.

To manage fear, you first need to see it. Psychologists have been studying fear for generations, and Maxie Maultsby is credited with labeling the Four Fatal Fears of:

  1. Rejection
  2. Being Wrong
  3. Failure
  4. Emotional Discomfort

This isn’t just for the psychiatry couch – consider a senior manager who is asked to evaluate a new potential outsourcing partner. What might he say, and what might he think?

Four Fears - In Action

We may think senior members of our team are past this type of thinking, but consider that many of us avoid the dentist, the bathroom scale, and the detail on our credit card statement for similar reasons. Even if these fears don’t alter the decision, they are likely to delay the process which will add cost.

How does a team leader clear the fear? We can borrow from a classic sales framework which asks two questions:-

1. Why are you here?

2. What do you fear?

While it’s standard to cover the first part (goals) at a project kickoff, addressing fears will take more art. People are not always able to articulate their fears, and they may not feel safe talking about them.

A disarming approach is the “Clear the Fear” worksheet. In next team meeting, give everyone a sheet of paper with potential fears listed and a scale of how likely they feel these fears are.

The graphic below shows what it might look like for our example of the potential outsourcing partner evaluation.

(You can make your own list or download an example here.)

Clear the Fear Checklist

Each person completes the page by circling an answer for each line – ANONYMOUSLY.

Then the facilitator can collect the sheets, read though and average the scores, and the team can discuss.
It may feel awkward, but the upside is worth it:

  1. Many fears will evaporate with one honest team conversation
  2. The team will gain clarity on decision criteria
  3. Overall communication is likely to improve, and
  4. If there are some whoppers – or political quagmires – you’ll get them on the table early.

Better decisions will follow, and everyone will be less anxious and more productive after they clear the fear.

Learn other great ways of lowering your bottom line and your overall prices when dealing with vendors with these other great articles:

Expensive Sentences: Common Buying Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Bottom Line

Three Steps To Saving Your Company Money: How To COMPETE Purchases

What Are You Buying Anyway?


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