Last month, millions of Americans resolved to exercise more, work harder, eat better, and stop drinking or smoking. Problem is, most won’t succeed. In the same vein, many a company will promise to do a better job managing its employees, increase responsiveness to customer or client demands, and dramatically improve the bottom line. Unfortunately, most of these resolutions will fall flat on their face as well. So, what’s stopping us from doing what we know makes common sense? The chances are: Nothing that makes sense! It’s our emotions at work, whether individually or collectively. Here are some of the emotional concerns that individuals and organizations face:
- The fear of change. For better or worse, most people just want to stay in their comfort zones.
- The fear that any effort they make will go unnoticed or unrewarded.
- The fear that they won’t be supported in their goals. Just as it’s more likely that a loved one or friend will give you that first piece of chocolate, cigarette, or drink, it will probably be one of your co-workers, executives, or managers who will revert back to less than stellar teamwork.
- The fear of failure along the way. Although nobody wants to be subject to this judgment, be aware that mistakes and temporary failures are a part of the success process. So, focus on learning any lessons you can from these short-term setbacks.
- The fear of being overwhelmed. How can we do these new things when we can’t even keep up with what we’ve got going on right now? The Catch-22 here is that highly effective executives get no more time in a day than ineffective ones — they just use it more effectively.
Most individuals or organizations get past these emotional sticking points only when the pain of not changing is so great they can’t take it anymore. Or, they’re some of the few who are smart enough to stress the present cost of future pain so that they can affect the outcome now. For example, ask your HR department: What will be the five-year impact on our growth prospects if we don’t improve our hiring practices today? Bring this outcome to the present and use it as leverage to effectuate immediate change.
HR That Works and other programs offer access to powerful strategies and tools — but people have to want to use them! In order for me, you, or any company to move to a new level of performance, we need to move past the fears outlined above.