How Do You Get People Out of Their Shell?

How do you help people to perform at their best?One answer may surprise you.James had always been a “middle of the bell curve “employee.

An engineer for a technology company, James had been a solid performer for 32 years. Solid, but never outstanding.    Given his performance, James had been passed over for promotions and formal leadership development training for decades.Then, out of nowhere, things changed.

The company was hit with a gigantic product recall.  Billions of dollars and the company’s reputation were at stake.  This was a crisis the likes of which they’d never dealt with.

James’ manager, Karen, was stretched thin.  She asked James to step up and help.Karen asked James to be responsible for setting up four new product recall service centers, and lead a team of forty people.James took on the new role, and exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations.

After the recall crisis ended, Karen pulled James into her office, to discuss his terrific work.  She asked him, “How come you never stepped up to this level earlier?”James replied, “I was never asked.”

It’s easy in organizational culture to tread water in the status quo.  Sometimes it takes a real challenge to get people to stretch beyond their comfort zone.

In what ways have you challenged people to step out of their comfort zone?  Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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