‘Push yourself out of your comfort zone’ is a common inspirational mantra used by parents, teachers, managers, leaders and anyone who cares. And as a business leader, you should be doing the same!
A Comfort Zone is a beautiful place, but nothing grows here – At least this is what we believe. As a result, many business leaders will aim to push their employees out of their comfort zone to encourage this growth. But is this the right thing to do?
Pushing people out of their comfort zones is not a guaranteed solution to achieve peak performance. On the contrary, it can make the other person overwhelmed, anxious, angry, depressed resulting in sub-optimal performance.
Therefore, the question is how much to push one out of the comfort zone? What to do if you have pushed someone too much? How to identify the right point of balance? How to adapt your management style based on the needs of the individual?
These are the questions you need to reflect on to be an effective manager and to get the best from your people.
Beyond the Comfort Zone
It is often believed that the comfort zone is the safe zone and anything beyond is when potential is reached. But in actual fact, we should consider three areas, the comfort zone, the performance zone, which is an extension of the comfort zone, and beyond this further is the unknown zone.
So what do these mean?
The comfort zone, as we have discussed, is where we feel safest. We can perform tasks easily, know our capabilities and are often coasting on course daily.
The performance zone, however, pushes people out of their comfort zone but not so much as to reach the unknown zone. In the performance zone awaits challenges and pressure, but the capabilities are still very much there.
The unknown zone is a very fluid zone which pushes people beyond their capabilities. This is when the anxiety, depression and stress appear and as a result, performance is dropped and less productivity is the outcome.
As you can see, it is essential for managers and business leaders to apply the right level of push to transition employees from their comfort zones, but not so much that it has a detrimental effect on performance.
That said, it is inevitable that occasionally, employees will slip into the unknown zone. This is when it becomes the role of the managers to offer help and support to bring them back down to the performance zone, ensuring optimum performance.
Despite its name being ‘the performance zone’, securely placed in this zone is not the best place for optimum performance. Too close to the comfort zone and you will not be reaching full potential. As a result, you should aim for yourself and employees to be operating at the very outer edge of the performance zone.
This provides the perfect level of pressure and challenge without compromising on performance due to stress, depression and anxiety.
If you would like to discuss or hear more, please feel free to get in touch.