ABC’s of Team Building – Z is for Comfort Zone

How often do you get out of your comfort zone?  For many people, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable can cause a great deal of anxiety.  However, the more you push yourself to get out of your comfort zone, the easier it becomes to do it.  The end result is being able to take on new challenges and achieve things you never knew you could – both in our personal and professional lives.

As a leader, it’s important to recognize when your team is getting complacent and needs to be challenged to get out of their comfort zone.  Employees need to be reminded that if they sit back and play it safe all of the time, they won’t ever grow, stay competitive, and possibly be promoted.  It definitely helps to get out of an overly comfortable environment if employees feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves.  So, if your company has plenty of growth opportunities or incentives to reach new personal and team goals, you can use these as a way to overcome complacency.

When you think of ways to challenge your team, remember that each person’s comfort zone is different.  You will need to spend some time working with each of your team members to learn what each person is really capable of when they step out of their “safe” environments.  Start with small steps to see who is very hesitant and who is ready to charge ahead.  Be prepared to respond to the question, “We’ve always done it this way, so why do we need to change it?”.

Brainstorming ideas and making sure your team knows that they can think out of the box is a great way to start getting them out of their comfort zone.  If you have a diverse team with different profiles and mindsets, they can bounce ideas off of each other and discover new perspectives.  Make sure that differences of opinion don’t get heated but instead they learn to disagree in a healthy and constructive way.  This can lead to new product ideas or improvements on current processes.  Making mistakes is a critical part of growth so you will need to remind them of this to maintain a positive work environment.  As it has been quoted many times “your last mistake is your best teacher”.

The search for new knowledge is a critical component for dealing with complacency.  Encourage your employees to learn about a variety of subjects.  If your company allows it, invest in courses they can take to help them with their professional growth, and possibly book a time of day for each person to study a new topic and then report back to the team.  Keeping your team a part of a learning environment will help to spark new ideas and ultimately new growth opportunities.  This will ensure that you and your team are always being challenged to move out of your comfort zones!