Five steps to Develop a Successful Management Comfort Zone?

We all experience situations where we feel our strengths and core competencies are matched with the circumstances that we find our selves in.  When this happens we are prone to say that we are in our comfort “zone”.  The more times we find ourselves in the “zone” we are more satisfied and feel more productive.

We are more relaxed when we know what should be done and it comes easy to you (for you it is intuitively obvious), and most importantly, people around you seek you out so that your confidence and success can rub off on them.

People that are normally in their “zone” most of the time are successful and are usually asked to take on additional responsibilities and this often leads to directing the activities or others.  The objective of course is for you to share what makes you highly productive with the new groups or teams that you are now responsible for.

Unfortunately taking on a management role does not always match with the behavior characteristics that cause you to be comfortable and in your “zone.”  When you were in your “zone” you were normally in control of the unknowns and variables.

As a manager you find that you are now dealing with different personalities, interests, motivations and outside influence factors such as families, personal habits and transitions through the seasons of life.

Consequently when you were in control and in your “zone” you intuitively knew what to do next to get things done, exceed expectations and overcome obstacles with ease that others found insurmountable.  Now as a manager or with extended people responsibility you are overwhelmed.

What do you need to do to get the “zone” back?

  1. Be Honest With Yourself. Do an inventory and identify what you do well and where you are struggling. Bring into your confidence people you trust and review your list to confirm your observations. Develop strategies on how to deal with each of your weaknesses and, where possible, try to apply one of your strength attributes to compensating for a weak one.

  3. Keep Things in Perspective. Do not let things become larger than they are or not recognize them for their significance and that they need to be addressed. I have seen too many managers avoid issues that were not as large as they envisioned them to be or ignored issues that were at the root cause of team dysfunction.

  5. Recruit a Mentor. Look for someone you can confide in who is willing to school you in areas where you lack confidence or knowledge.  Knowing what to do and how to respond is half the battle in addressing a problem.  Someone who is a seasoned manager that you trust may be the best resource to help you grow in your mastery and knowledge of solving management problems.

  7. Don’t Put Uncomfortable Issues on the Back Burner. Some issues are more uncomfortable than others.  You may know what to do but find dealing with it very uncomfortable.  Remember as a manager you need to see your self as a master of dealing with conflict and uncomfortable situations successfully.

  9. Be Confident and Build Trust in Others. The biggest challenge to getting in the “zone” is confidence and trust.  As a manager you need to project confidence – not a know-it-all – but someone who knows how to get the answers that they don’t know off hand.  As others begin to place trust in you as a confident and effective leader you will find yourself in the “zone” when those previously uncomfortable management issues arise.

Everyone likes being the “zone” – even owners and CEO’s of businesses.  As your career transitions you into new areas of responsibility, your success and attitude will be affected by your ability to apply what you were most comfortable doing in your previous position to the new one.

I once asked an owner of a company what he was most comfortable doing and he admitted he was in his “zone” on the floor running a machine and making high precision parts for his customers.  As a result of our conversation he realized that he needed accept his role running the company and dealing with its thorny issues with the same enthusiasm and attention to detail as he did running a piece of equipment and getting it to turn out precision parts consistently.

You can transfer the “zone” experience to other circumstances, even onto management, but it will take diligence and perseverance.  You may be surprised that you will be a natural adapting to a few of your new responsibilities and duties but in other areas you will need help and lots of practice to perfect your new skills and become comfortable in your successful management “zone.”

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