The Psychology of Fear in Organizations

Sheila Keegan, Kogan Page, ISBN 9780749472542

Reviewed by Deborah Ritchie, editor, CIR Magazine.  More at CIR Magazine.

Here is a book for anyone interested in organisational improvements. The fascinating read explores the emotion of fear within organisations; how it arises, how it can be recognised and how we can deal with it.

Author Sheila Keegan, a chartered psychologist with a doctorate in organisational change and management, examines how some work environments have become psychologically dangerous places. “We have moved on from the physical dangers that were inherent in the workplaces of the Industrial Revolution, but in some cases we have substituted them with psychological ones,” she writes.

Keegan examines how fear can be harnessed to improve productivity and organisational health; identifying priorities and practices that foster healthy working environments as well as highlighting the attitudes and practices that don’t, and which result in a demoralised and fearful workforce. The book also touches on the subject of leadership and megalomania, and on the effect of psychopaths in the workplace. There is also a chapter devoted to resilience, which examines the impact of the resilient workforce on the organisation, and on the economic benefits of building resilience within teams.

“In essence, building resilient teams is about effective leadership, team cohesion, mutual support and open, honest communication,” Keegan writes.

Praising Keegan’s study, Chris Welford, author of Staying Sane in Business, heralds this book as a “major contribution to productivity”. The anxious mind, he says is “rigid and limited as it seeks to solve problems in more or less the same way, time and time again”. He asserts that fear is “the number one enemy of creativity and without creativity there is no innovation”.

(c) CIR Magazine 2015

Published: March 4, 2015. Categories: Book Reviews and Robert's Blog.