Change: Comfort Zones and Push Back

Yesterday, we talked a bit about change, and how it is easy to feel challenged by change. For some of us, “change” is a pretty scary word. Because of the way our minds work, human beings like to feel comfortable, and because that picture of being comfortable is so strong within us, we are naturally drawn to where we feel comfortable, at ease, and where we can perform our best, most naturally.

Consistency becomes a comfort zone. Finding work, a place and people that are consistent in our lives, gives us the opportunity to relax and be happy, or at least content. How many of us can’t wait to get home after a long day at work? We visualize being home, and if the traffic around Seattle is any indication, we get very creative to find our way around obstacles to get home. “Home” is a comfort zone, whether it is a house, an apartment, or the local watering hole where we meet friends after work. The question becomes, do our comfort zones keep us from becoming more than we are today? Very often, the answer is “yes.”

If we perceive change as a threat to our comfort zones, we also get very creative at pushing back against the change – especially if we feel it is being forced on us from the outside. It’s like telling a teenager to wash the dinner dishes. It takes an hour to do a 10-minute job, and the teen doesn’t wash the knives and forks, and leaves the pots and pans untouched. Translate that to your organization, and your customer service becomes like the pots and pans – untouched. Your customers get unhappy in a hurry, and excellence in performance doesn’t stand a chance.

The challenge for leaders (and for each of us) is to discover the attitudes behind the push-back, as well as define the current comfort zones that are keeping the organization from moving forward. Once these attitudes are uncovered, then we can move toward the next step – painting the value of the change.

More to come on this subject.