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!

Matt

Are you afraid of your employees burning out this season?  Get out of your comfort zone and do something about it NOW!  Click here to see how mid season burnout can be a thing of the past, not part of your future!

Employee focus – service or process?

In response to the post about Circuit City, Katherine Ervasti in the Tourism Management Business Development Program at Niagara College pointed out that sometimes you have employees who are focused on service, and others that are focused on the process.  I thought this was an interesting topic…

We’ve probably all worked with him/her… the employee that will talk to anyone, help anyone, but you can’t get them to be on time or to fill out their paperwork correctly.

On the other side of the coin you have those who complete paperwork and tasks perfectly, but may not be as comfortable striking up a conversation with a complete stranger.

When we look at where this comes from, we can look to personality, up-bringing, skill level, behavioral styles, environment, etc.  To me, all this leads to understanding a person’s ‘comfort zone’.hammock

I don’t know about you, but when I am in my comfort zone, I feel safe.  I feel confident and secure in what I can do.  One of my comfort zones is in the classroom as a facilitator.  I have been doing that for many years and have developed the skill to where I typically get very favorable response.

Your employees, no matter how old or young, have had time to develop their comfort zones as well, and much of that is derived from where they have had success and gotten positive attention in the past.

From a staffing stand point, there are two ways to look at this.  You can either place people strictly in their comfort zones and rarely ask anything else from them, or you can you allow them to step outside of themselves once in a while so they can develop a new skill.  The latter of course is more difficult and time consuming, but the pay off is more flexibility with who can do what so you are not so dependent on one person as the only one who can do a particular task.

Here’s a strategy, understanding that not everyone will be great at everything, but also realizing people typically will do what gets favorable attention.  Learn to praise accomplishment, in addition to the final product. This way you reinforce the positive steps along the journey, which helps you get to the final goal.

For instance, if you have any employee that is terrible with paperwork, encourage the little victories along the way, rather than waiting until it is perfect.  These may be small ‘at-a-boys’, but they will work wonders when you are trying to develop a new habit or skill in your employees – especially if it is outside their current comfort zone.  Also relaying the importance of the task to what they already like doing helps communicate the bigger picture.  A service-oriented employee may not care about the process until they see how it effects service.

If you can establish new confidence and skill in an employee, you will have just created a new comfort zone for them, which ultimately makes your job easier.

Thanks!

Matt

Share your thoughts!