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We Hope You Are Comfortable

February 18, 2014

JustDoItYour more competitive peers want you to be comfortable. Why? Internally, the next round of “reductions” will reveal those with the most value to senior management and of course there is the limited promotional opportunities that come around once every three years that typically don’t go to those who remain comfortable. Your value is what counts. The truth is, you need to get out of your comfort zone in order to reach that next level, place or achieve that lofty goal –  and to continuously increase your value.

I May Be the Poster Child for This Article

Looking back over my HR career, I was constantly putting myself out there, out of my comfort zone. My corporate HR career includes a stint in Operations (sourcing/procurement/material management), managing HRIS, managing compensation, negotiating benefits contracts,  using technology to build databases and spreadsheets that helped me and others do faster and better work – all at the same company where my “day job” was employee relations/HR generalist work for thousands of employees and hundreds of managers and executives. On the side, I worked with a technical partner to create a comprehensive HR system that was better than PeopleSoft. I took a job “reengineering HR” for a very large food manufacturing and distribution company that had over 150 employees in the HR function. I went to work as Director HR for a large law firm with no prior experience in the law firm industry. I then went after an organization turnaround opportunity that gave me bottom-line profit/loss accountability (that resulted in phenomenal success). Next, for fun, I got certified in Oracle Self Service tools and designed the Oracle HR self-service systems for employee and manager use in a global software company.

And then I went for the ultimate in discomfort. Deciding I wanted more interesting work that was closer to my formal education (organizational psychology), I chose to start my own consulting firm, The Nielson Group. I wanted to return to something I had focused on in college, talent predictiveness and organizational effectiveness. All of my experiences inside companies told me we needed to do a better job of matching people to jobs, enable teams to perform at higher levels and develop individuals based on their individual needs rather than sending them to 3-day “corporate training events”. The PhDs didn’t seem to be making the impact I would have expected. So I became an expert in the use of talent assessments and organizational development tools and processes. I also learned how to coach others and teach others how to coach others. As one colleague who has a PhD stated to me, “Carl, what you know far surpasses my PhD.” That reinforced my belief that experience is relevant and critical to personal growth – and value to an organization. If you have a PhD but no experience, you aren’t going to be valued as much.

Through all of my work, I have grown technically and intellectually, but perhaps more importantly, I grew in the way I understand people, tasks and systems that are required to achieve goals through each of these experiences. They say ignorance is bliss. In my case, if I were to give more weight to the risks associated with each of my roles and what I was there to accomplish, I would probably have scared myself into not trying. Have I failed along the way? Sure. But none of my failures were catastrophic and they served me very well from a learning standpoint. For example, having a better mousetrap doesn’t trump having millions of dollars in venture funding. My side venture to create the next best HR software was doomed from the start. Did it help developmentally, I think so. But it was also fun to do. Was taking on reengineering of a large legacy HR function a little optimistic? Perhaps. Did everything we attempted result in change, of course not. In fact, only 50% resulted in significant change that improved HR and benefited the company’s bottom line (millions of dollars in savings, faster responsiveness, better analytics for better decision-making). As it turns out, 50% is a pretty good success rate in the reengineering and change management world.

So… Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Moving beyond our comfort zones is how we can best learn and grow. To develop the courage to take a leap, stop over-analyzing. Trust that you will sharpen the required skills and abilities necessary to actually pull it off… as you pull it off. Here are the three things you need to focus on:

  • Look for that next thing, be open to suggestions from your boss or your boss’ boss.
  • Understand what’s in it for you to motivate yourself. Brainstorm how taking that assignment outside your current professional focus will support your long-term goals or working on that tough behavior — networking, or public speaking, or getting that additional degree — can advance your career or help you reach other goals.
  • Then, customize a plan to take control of a situation instead of being overwhelmed by it. If, for example, you’re an introvert who dreads networking events, instead of feeling pressured to meet everyone, focus on a few people and actually try to get to know them, or aim to make initial contacts with the goal of following up in a more comfortable setting. If you are debating whether to get that advanced degree but have concerns, just get started. You’ll most likely find a way to overcome any obstacles. Break down larger action items into very doable daily tasks and then hold yourself accountable to complete those daily tasks.

Want to see change? Raise your personal tension. Before you know it, you’ll be completely immersed in what you wanted to do and realize that any fear was unfounded.

Offer to readers:

Send me a list of no more than eight critical tasks you need/want to do (use the form below for ease). I’ll create a personalized tension survey for you to take online. I’ll provide the results by email and a personal 30-minute debriefing by phone.

About Carl Nielson

About The Nielson Group

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 23, 2014 10:39 am

    Reblogged this on bigdifferenceoflife.


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