Are you afraid of the light?

Last night my wife and I were sitting out on our back porch (we live in Florida, so that’s possible in February). Linda had turned on the yard lights to get a better view of the critters who might be scurrying about.

Not up on typical yard critter behavior, I asked, “aren’t they going to be scared of the light and not come in the yard now?”

“They aren’t scared of the light”, she said. “They are scared of the change when the light comes on. Once they are used to the light, they’ll come in.”

And thus, a blog post was born. 

Think of something that you haven’t achieved or done yet that you are afraid of.  Could be anything… skydiving, starting a new job or taking dancing lessons.  You harbor some sort of apprehension about that action, which stands in the way of you actually doing it.

But what are you more afraid of… the action, or the change you will have to go through to make the action happen?

If we don’t change, or try new things, we get to stay safely inside of our own comfort zone.  Don’t be fooled, it’s called a comfort zone for a reason – it’s nice in there and people don’t want to give up that feeling of security.  This is why people resist change.  It’s not that they are afraid of learning to dance, they are afraid of leaving their non-dancing comfort zone.

What about your employees?  What are they afraid of?  If they are typical teenagers and young adults, two of the biggest no-no’s are looking stupid in front of your friends and not fitting in. The behaviors you see displayed because of this could lead you to think they are lazy or they don’t care, but I would imagine it’s more about social survival and not getting out of their “need to be accepted” comfort zone.

And it’s not just the “kids”.  We ALL do things that avoid us having to abandon our comfort zones (because we all need to be accepted).  The trick is to find a way to make the uncomfortable, comfortable.

For leaders, we have to do this twice.  Once for us and our fears, and once for our employees.  Our job is to remove the fears our employees have about not coming out of their comfort zone.  In other words, we need to help them expand their comfort zone to include the things they were hired to do, to make all these new and unfamiliar (and uncomfortable) tasks, comfortable.

Repetition and success are two of the best ways I know to help people get “used to” a new situation.  It works for the critters in our back yard, it can work for you and your employees, too.

Thanks for reading!


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Some policies are bad for customer service

I recently had the opportunity to fly an airline that charges baggage fees (I try to avoid this by flying Southwest whenever possible). I understand that it is difficult for a for-profit company to turn its back on potential revenue, but charging for bags is a practice that is at best, broken.

Here’s why:

When people don’t want to do something, they often find a way around it or avoid it altogether (by flying another airline, for example!). When people don’t want to pay for their bags, they try to carry-on as much as possible. This leads to overstuffed overhead compartments, which leads to a slower boarding process and cranky travelers.

The airlines know this, so their solution to speed up boarding and save overhead space is to check your carry-on bags at the gate – for free. Savvy travelers have figured this out, so they just bring their luggage to the gate to check it for free.

If this wasn’t enough to want to fix the problem, you now have the rule-abiding flyers who dutifully paid for their bags at the ticket counter or online, seeing other travelers getting to check their bags for free. Why the inconsistency?? Maybe next time they’ll bring their bags through security, too!

This has an impact on the airline employees, too, because now they have to explain why some people have to pay and others don’t. That takes time and causes frustration. Not the best idea for building a customer service culture. I asked a ticket agent about this on my return flight, and he just blankly stared at me and said, “luckily I don’t work the gate very often, so I don’t have to deal with it.” That’s nice.

So why do airlines still charge for bags considering all these negative outcomes? I’ll let you come to your own conclusion, but the bigger question to ask yourself is this:

Does my company have any policies or practices that create such inconsistent service and frustrating situations for my guests and employees?

If you are not sure, just ask your guests and employees.  They’ll know.

Thanks for reading!


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