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Changing habits for the benefit of the workplace

Human beings are creatures of habit.  We develop routines and patterns of behavior in both our personal and professional life to deal with daily occurrences.  Very often we integrate these habits so thoroughly into how we do things that we are not even aware of them. Generally these routines aid us in getting through our work more easily and quickly than if we had to consciously think about the procedures or tasks at hand. On the other hand, sometimes we develop “bad habits” that can have a negative impact on our work and on those around us.  And since we are not necessarily aware of them it can be difficult to see that something we are doing, or not doing, may be causing difficulties at home or in the workplace.

There can be many causes for developing bad habits in the workplace that lead to poor performance or poor results.  They may be due to lack of training in the job. That is fairly straightforward to address. Often, however, they develop as a result of individuals feeling unappreciated, being stressed due to having unrealistic goals, or feeling unattached due to an overall lack of communication about the organizations’ goals and directions. In such circumstances, for example, staff may not pay as much attention as needed to quality control, not communicate effectively with teammates, not follow-up with customers/clients or colleagues, or simply not put forth the effort they are truly capable of. The more unsatisfied people feel while at work, the more likely it is that they will contribute in some way — often unconsciously — to creating a work environment that is unpleasant and prone to under performance.

Executives and office managers who sense that organizational effectiveness or productivity is not where it needs to be should be on the lookout to determine if this may be a result of “bad habits” having developed. Yet they may have a hard time actually identifying how they or their colleagues are directly contributing to the poor working environment.   Having an outside professional, a business coach, who facilitates an organizational assessment and takes the time to ask the right questions can help the executive, managers and team members figure out where the bad habits — attitudes and behaviors — are having a negative impact on the workplace, what dynamics and aspects of the organizational culture are causing them and what to do about them.

Leaders need to set the tone for a business and lead by example.  A key area to pay attention to is the work environment and whether employees are motivated and innovative, or are in a rut or feel undervalued or frustrated.  If the business leader isn’t aware of the organizational climate or prepared to take action to address problem areas, small bad habits can become big ones that are highly detrimental to the business.

When everyone in an office feels informed, acknowledged and appreciated, positive habits can take hold. New employees will not fall victim to early negative conditioning. Experienced employees will find new ways to contribute to a positive working environment.  And the end result is not just a more pleasant workplace. The positive habits and attitudes and behaviors translate into the way employees work with customers and clients, with positive effect on the overall business.

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