Breaking the Fear Barrier
Tom Rieger
Gallup Press, August 2011

A company’s worst enemy isn’t always the competition. Sometimes it’s the fear that lives within its own walls.

This fear can take many forms: fear of not meeting a goal, of not getting a bonus, of losing decision rights and respect. Fear compels employees and managers to protect themselves by creating seemingly impenetrable barriers fortified by rules and practices that benefit one group while harming others.

Left unchecked, fear-driven barriers can spread at an alarming rate in a company. Workgroups define success not by reaching the company’s overall goal, but by fulfilling their part of the process. Restrictive policies pile up until managers start to exert extreme control over headcount and resources. Other managers feel compelled to build empires — taking over other departments’ functions to regain or enhance their self-sufficiency. In the midst of these counterproductive activities, employees suffer, success deteriorates, and efficiency dies.

While these barriers might seem insurmountable, they aren’t. They were built internally, and they can be destroyed internally. By learning from the real-world lessons in this book, leaders, managers, and employees can overcome barriers that plague their company. It takes courageous leadership, and it can be difficult, but the result will be nothing less than transformational.

About the Author

Tom Rieger pioneered the study and science of organizational barriers and is an expert in applying behavioral economic principles to help understand how large complex systems self-destruct. Through this work, he has become a recognized leader in developing methods and frameworks to identify and remove barriers to success for societies and companies. He regularly consults for a variety of organizations across multiple industries and sectors. In 1994, Rieger joined Gallup, where he is the leader and chief architect of Gallup’s worldwide consulting efforts regarding barriers. He is also an expert in international research and polling methods as well as in developing and applying statistical models to a variety of complex organizational issues.