A wise person once told me that the fear of rejection is something that some people internalize – when you can let go of that fear it’s empowering; if you don’t get there it holds you back. I want to empower my people, encourage them to do more. I know I have to hold people accountable and challenge them to do more so they can earn more. How do I do that without causing them to fear?

Thoughts of the Day: It’s all about approval and a secure sense of belonging. Make sure you and your employees are clear about what’s expected. Help each employee to visualize success. Reassure your people that you will stand behind them one way or another, until they get to the other side of the problem.

42785259 - business people corporate meeting board room concept

A strong sense of well-being has to come from within, but it can be bolstered from the outside. Make it clear that any challenge to do more is an opportunity. Talk about how the challenge to reach for more is based on your confidence in the individual that comes from his or her past successes. Start and end by reinforcing with each employee how you’ve seen them succeed before, and as a result you can see them succeeding with this new challenge.

Set out specific ground rules – what is to be attempted, in what time frame, and what should result. Talk about how the “gut feeling” of anxiety can creep in when facing new challenges – and how that’s adrenaline fueling up to support the body’s fight or flight response. Encourage your employees to productively channel an adrenaline rush by taking action to move forward, rather than by getting stuck fighting to keep things the same.


Understand that a rush of adrenaline can also cause irritability and restlessness, nervousness and jitters, and low blood sugar. Encourage your employees to get physical exercise and eat healthy foods while going through transitions. Balance demands for change with rest periods to allow the body to recover. For example, work on building new skills for a few hours, then go back to doing something that’s familiar and at which each employee can be successful.

Before launching into action, spend time with each employee creating a mental picture of what success looks like. Define the desired outcomes for the individual and for the company. Write out a scenario on paper of how that comes to pass. Role play actions that have to be taken so that when reality strikes it won’t be so unfamiliar. Role play failures and then brainstorm and role play what to do if they come to pass. Always end on a successful visual.

40370160 - businesswoman walking up staircase to door in sky

Even if it means that there’s no longer a role in your company for certain employees, you can stand behind them by offering to help them with that transition. Engage in a dialog about career development. While you both might feel sad to see a working relationship come to an end, focus on how everyone will feel once the new opportunity is found.

Talk about motivation. Get to know your employees as people inside and outside the business. Find out what causes them fear. Offer reassurance that you’ll be there for support as they work through challenges. Ask what each employee wants to achieve personally and professionally. Focus on the outcome: what each employee hopes to gain by facing and overcoming obstacles.

Looking for a good book? Try “Stress: Survive and Thrive” by Robert Hale.