Strong habit forming skills lie at the heart of many vital careers, roles and tasks. But the rules behind them can, and should, be used by everyone
Every time you fly, pilot checklists are recited between the crew. When soldiers go into battle, their muscle memory takes over thanks to years of habit-forming, check-and-test training, to keep them alive. Any good auto engineer will know by habit where every tool and engine part goes in their garage.
In the dynamic, ever changing world of business and leadership, it can be easy to throw the idea of habits to the wind and go with the flow, jumping from one action point to the next. However, science demonstrates time and time again that good habits are key to success, and bad habits can hold you back.
All good leaders have their own routines and habits that have helped drive them to success. No matter how strong your talent, determination or willpower, it is discipline and habit that will win out the majority of the time.
Habit Your Way To Success
We all have personal and work related habits, some good, some bad. Training yourself to reinforce the good habits and get rid of the bad ones is a time consuming but worthwhile exercise. There is no instant fix, but try rewarding good habits, either emotionally – we all feel good about clearing that inbox – or physically, if you booked five meetings, have a cookie!
With a mix of self-awareness, some careful analysis and introspection, you can discover your working strengths and weaknesses. Then, plan new or improved habits to cut back on the bad and improve your performance.
Bad habits are hard to crush, but an easy fix is to replace them with good ones. Find the reason or source of a bad habit, often boredeom or stress, and when you reach that point, divert yourself with a good habit that offers more reward and will .
At work, habits should be focused on business outcomes. No one cares that you changed the printer toner the minute the low ink warning appeared or you’re first into all the meetings.
However, an extra check on client satisfaction instead of that coffee break, a peek in the bug folder instead of scanning Facebook, or a personal catch up with your design team rather than an impersonal email are all winning habits that can improve the business.
Breaking or Building the Habit
Technology and help from colleagues can help us build up strong new habits, rather than relying on your own memory, sense of timing and that tiny inner voice telling you it’s okay to skip being good this one time!
- Using alarms on smartphones, desktop pop-ups or a buddy system are common ways to remind us it’s time to be good.
- Remove sources of distraction or bad habits from the area.
- Take notes about your progress and read up on them regularly, don’t forget those small achievements.
- Reflect, spend some time thinking about your habits instead of reacting, consider how you can make small steps to improve major bad habits.
- Revisit what are now your good habits and see how you can improve them further.
Business Habits Can Change Too
Business leaders should scour their company for bad habits in processes, decision making or even beliefs. If things regularly go wrong, or the same mistakes keep occurring, bad management habits are likely to be the root cause.
- Across the company, use gamification schemes, the rewarding of prizes to help a team or the whole workforce change its ways to reinforce good behavior.
- Use high profiles notices, calendars and other sources of information to remind workers of progress and the benefits of good habits.
- Read up on other companies that have transformed their ways, this has all been done before somewhere. Peter Drucker is a must read for executives.
- Root out those who don’t belong in the company or consider any progress as insurmountable or not worth their effort.
- Delegate responsibility to those who prove they can build good team and people habits.
Between personal, business and team habits, there is a lot to digest when it comes to clearing out the bad habits and introducing or improving on good skills. While shock tactics may work in some instances, gradual change and a determined approach are more likely to achieve results.
Consider each step forward a victory and never be afraid to try new approaches when one bad habit proves particularly hard to beat into submission.
Let us know your worst office habits and how you overcame them.