34 12 Reducing the fear factor. Increasing brain safety at work starts with: Being prepared. Being physically and brain fit through good nutrition, daily exercise and enough sleep is a great starting point to optimise the right balance of brain chemicals and neurotransmitters to boost a positive mood and access to your executive suite, the thinking part of your brain or pre-frontal cortex. Working smart. We become more afraid or overwhelmed when our thinking is muddled or foggy. Gaining clarity by knowing how to focus on what is relevant and ignoring the rest helps us to see the wood from the trees. Once you have that clarity, fear is quashed. Procrastination is a form of fear and can occur because of uncertainty about where to begin, or of doing a task correctly. Fear of making a mistake can hold us back so much, we never even start. Embracing change. Leadership is something we observe in others that makes us feel secure that they will look after us first no matter what. Good leaders are accessible and trusted. One of the most common problem I have witnessed in some workplaces is the “us and them” mentality between bosses, managers and staff. If your staff don’t trust you as a boss, how can you expect them to put in extra effort, or work longer hours simply because you ask them to? Leading by example. Change is everywhere and if we fear it may be the wrong change, or take us to the wrong outcome, or lead to a lot of hard and unnecessary work we become change adverse. Changing your perspective on change alters our unconscious and conscious bias towards change. What at first seemed an insurmountable challenge now not only looks possible, it looks a whole heap of fun too. As soon as we look forward to something or anticipate fun, we reduce our fear factor. The quickest way out of a silo mentality at work is for the leaders to effectively lead through their behaviour. This means observing and actively listening rather than telling, of communicating clearly and without ambiguity, by granting autonomy to those who need it to grow the business, and to always be seen to be fair in their dealings with others. Creating a brain safe work environment is all about restoring the balance of cognition and emotion because the two work synergistically together. It’s about recognising the real value of any business lies in the mental capital and wellbeing of brains at work. Understanding the role emotion plays in our decision making, beliefs, values and performance provides a fantastic opportunity to create a workplace where people want to come to work, to do their work well and enjoy a sense of achievement and fulfillment. Knowing how to reduce the fear factor can lead to a higher level of happiness at work. Ultimately it’s all about being human and putting people first, because people are what matters.