How To Form (And Break) Workplace Habits

Habits—those repeated behaviors that are wired into your brain—form for all kinds of reasons. For example, you may experience a physical, mental or emotional trigger that tells your brain which habit to use. Some habits are conscious, such as choosing to work out at a certain time, while others are unconscious, such as reaching for your phone while you wait for a meeting to start.

Naturally, some habits can help you in your career while others may hold you back. Shalla Rogers, a performance improvement consultant for Insperity, says that leaders can help their team cultivate positive habits like timeliness and responsiveness while helping them overcome negative habits, such as repeatedly missing deadlines or arriving to meetings late.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Rogers’ tips for forming valuable workplace habits while letting go of the unhelpful ones.

Make a list of your desired habits. To form better habits at work, think about what would make you a stronger leader or what would help you advance your career faster. Whether you want to communicate more often with clients or check in more frequently with your sales reps, incorporate these practices into your daily routine. Repetition is key, notes Rogers.

Make a list of unwanted habits. This step requires some self-awareness, but it can help you grow. Consider your workplace routines and look for patterns. You can also examine how you complete tasks, manage others and work within teams, says Rogers.

Connect the cues and habits. If you want to break a bad habit, it’s important to understand what causes the habit. For example, if you want to stop mindlessly scrolling social media throughout the day, keep your cell phone across the room.

Create an alternative plan. When you become aware of your habits and triggers, you can confront them directly. Rogers notes that breaking bad habits is often about substituting the habit with a healthier alternative. If you tend to automatically complain to a colleague, for example, try taking a minute or two to breathe deeply instead.

Use prompts to encourage good habits. Prompts are essentially positive cues, says Rogers. Think of them as reminders to stay on track with desirable behaviors. If you are usually slow to respond to emails each day, try setting an alarm to complete this task 30 minutes before you finish work for the day.

Reward positive changes. To get your good habits to stick (and to keep yourself motivated after a slip-up), think about how you can treat yourself. Everyone needs positive reinforcement, says Rogers. If you are working with one of your employees, take time to praise them and let them know you appreciate their hard work.

Keep at it. For a good habit to stick, be prepared to work at it for 2-3 weeks. It takes the same amount of time to break a habit, notes Rogers. Be patient but persistent when you are developing new habits or banishing bad ones. Take it one day at a time and keep your eye on the prize, Rogers adds.

You can help yourself and your sales reps form positive workplace habits by defining the habits you want to cultivate, digging deeper into your triggers and rewarding positive changes. Whether you want to cultivate, reinforce or let go of a habit, give it time. Habits don’t happen overnight, so be willing to put in the work to see the desired changes.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Shalla Rogers is a performance improvement consultant for Insperity. She has more than 15 years of experience in project management and learning and development.


filed under March 2021
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