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Angst@Work in Corona Times

09.04.20 / In 5 Min gelesen
Foto: H.-H. Pablo Behrens

Angst@Work in Corona Times – how to maintain courage in companies, especially in “virtual working” times

Angst goes around. The COVID-19 Pandemia, the political actions around, combined with intensive and often undiffentiated media and social network presence creates a lot of pressure on individuals.  Angst can paralyze, first individuals, then organizations. 

In 2017, I had the possibility to work on “Angst@work” together with the HSG University of St. Gallen. Based on a wide-spread survey, academic research and intensive discussions with professionals, we could clarify the key drivers for “Angst” and at same time give recommendations to create a courageous company culture. 

Due to Corona-Crisis, this topic is more important than ever. Especially the virtual/ home-office working mode needs more attention, therefore I’d like to bring the results into today’s context.

Angst – about what?

At first, I’ve been analyzing the “reasons for angst”. On a high level, it came out, that individual leaders & market circumstances can have an impact. In frightened companies, the culture & history is perceived as significant influence. Ownership (stock-listed, private…) obviously has no impact.

With regards to detailed reasons for angst - Angst@work seems to be little about losing jobs, but way more about not being appreciated/ valued and about social belonging. Not being recognized, not being part (in whatsoever way) of a global project is creating strong feelings amongst staff. In that same context, a healthy error culture shows up as the differentiator for courageous companies. Being blamed for making mistakes has a significant relevance to the lead question. In courageous companies, receiving information seems to be less of an issue than in frightened / medium companies.

In short: Inform, involve, appreciate, learn from errors. And don’t give room to scaring individuals, but to encouraging ones!

Especially in Corona-times: Social Belonging is especially important when companies are in Home-Office mode – Companies need to find new ways to keep the “we and us”. Daily Check-in’s, virtual celebration – appreciation and caring can be done virtually as well! 

Angst & Meeting Culture

In the area of Meeting culture, it’s noticeable that courageous companies are scheduling their meetings well ahead, follow through the agenda and use meetings more for decision-making than frightened companies. Pre-alignments before meetings happens way less in courageous companies. In addition, courageous companies seem to share meeting results to wider audiences than other companies.

In short: structure your meetings, follow the structure, use them to make decisions, make “1-one-1 pre-alignments” unnecessary, and share the results!

Especially in Corona-Times: Keep transparency, especially for companies in “virtual working mode” it’s important that your staff understand what happens inside, share meeting results!

Angst & Decision-Making Culture

The area of decision-making culture shows the highest correlation to angst / courage of a company. In courageous companies, operational decisions are taken on the right level, strategic decisions are more based on in-house knowledge (rather than external), decision reasons are openly explained, decision-makers are responsible for implementation. In addition, courageous companies distinguish very much for thinking outside the box & fostering creativity - these two elements show the greatest correlation to the lead question. And finally, dealing with errors / wrong decisions is handled very openly in courageous companies in difference to frightened companies.

In short: Decide at right level, use companies brain, explain the why, unleash the creativity beast and use errors to learn, not to scare!

Especially in Corona-Times: With your staff being in virtual working mode, it’s even more important to ensure they understand how decisions are made!

Angst & Management Culture

In the area of Management Culture, the “group first” - mindset makes courageous companies different from others. Frightened companies are described as very political. Trust in employees work results correlates well to the lead question, and proper KPI Systems seem to foster courage as well.

In short: foster “Group First”-mindset, stop politics, trust your people and be clear on what you manage!

Angst & Work / Organisation Culture

In this cultural area, I’ve identified some “hygiene factors”, drivers that really indicate Angst, although their absence doesn’t create courage. The “9 to 5” mindset (work according to clock) is one example, as it’s obviously visible in frightened companies. Same applies, though somewhat less, in restricted usage of information technology. Discussion of internal cost allocation happens slightly more in frightened companies as in other companies.

With regards to organizational setup, functional organization models seem to be more dominant in frightened companies, whereas the usage of matrix or business unit organization models doesn’t differ.

In short: take “9 to 5”-habits serious

Especially in Corona-Times: Establish daily routines in virtual working mode, morning check-in’s, agreed deliverables, steady follow-up’s

Angst & Recruitment Criteria, Voluntary Leave Reasons

Looking at recruitment criteria, it becomes obvious that diversity (gender, nationality, international experience) has no impact on angst / courage level.

Driving criteria seem to be “fit to the team”, honesty, play-to-win mindset as well as creativity, courage and adaptability.

With regards to voluntary leave reasons, culture & leadership is way less mentioned as a reason in courageous companies than in frightened companies. In addition, courageous companies seem to be stronger on offering internal career opportunities.

In short: challenge your recruitment criteria, and of course work, work, work on your culture


Keep transparency, especially for companies that are in virtual working mode. Remember, there’s no kitchen talk anymore. Keep your staff involved, keep them «being part of it», ensure social belonging, and avoid unnecessary ambiguity, there’s Angst enough already outside. Sharing is caring!

Hinweis: Der Inhalt des Artikels spiegelt ausschließlich die persönliche Meinung des Autors wider.


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