Habits

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - CAREERS -

In other words, iden­tify the neg­a­tive im­pli­ca­tions of not form­ing this new habit and then iden­tify the pos­i­tive im­pli­ca­tions for form­ing the habit you are fo­cused on. Once you have re­viewed the im­pli­ca­tions, cre­ate an accountability link by ask­ing some­one to help you de­velop your new habit and report your progress to this per­son on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Re­mem­ber, it takes ap­prox­i­mately 28 days to break an old habit and cre­ate a new one.

Or­ga­ni­za­tions on the other hand, also have spe­cific rou­tines that are really noth­ing more than un­con­scious habits. Th­ese so-called rou­tines or habits are es­sen­tially what cre­ate or­ga­ni­za­tional cul­ture or in other words, “the way we do things around here.” They are also tac­tics for cre­at­ing and main­tain­ing a sense of con­sis­tency in how work is done and how em­ploy­ees be­have. And, just as with in­di­vid­u­als, the strength of the dom­i­nant habits and rou­tines can ruin an or­ga­ni­za­tion and/or take it for­ward to out­stand­ing success.

If fact, James L. Hes­kett, univer­sity pro­fes­sor and au­thor of The Cul­ture Cy­cle, sug­gests that an ef­fec­tive or­ga­ni­za­tion cul­ture can ac­count for up to half of the dif­fer­en­tial in profit per­for­mance be­tween or­ga­ni­za­tions in the same busi­ness. In his view, the rea­son for this is that en­gaged lead­ers and em­ploy­ees are more likely to stay with an or­ga­ni­za­tion. This in turn cre­ates higher pro­duc­tiv­ity per em­ployee, re­duces over­all tal­ent man­age­ment costs and en­sures a stronger and more loyal cus­tomer base.

Most or­ga­ni­za­tional habits and rou­tines typ­i­cally re­flect the be­liefs and be­hav­iours of ear­lier lead­ers and/ or cor­po­rate founders and there­fore chang­ing th­ese habits and be­hav­iours re­quires sig­nif­i­cant lead­er­ship ef­fort. In many cases, new ex­ec­u­tive lead­er­ship is re­quired in or­der to start the shift to­ward new ways of do­ing things.

At the same time, chang­ing or­ga­ni­za­tional habits, rou­tines and cul­ture is far more com­pli­cated than chang­ing an in­di­vid­ual habit. In other words, 28 days just won’t do it. New or­ga­ni­za­tional lead­ers es­pe­cially need to en­gage in a sys­tem­atic di­ag­no­sis of their cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in or­der to both con­firm the need for change and the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ca­pa­bil­ity to change its habits and rou­tines. Whereas long-term em­ploy­ees are of­ten re­sis­tant to change, the leader must also en­gage in an in-depth re­view of or­ga­ni­za­tional dy­nam­ics, em­ployee tenures, skills, at­ti­tudes and their abil­ity and de­sire to change and grow.

Once a fu­ture vi­sion for the or­ga­ni­za­tion has been cre­ated, the leader must work with key stake­hold­ers — in­clud­ing em­ploy­ees — to com­mu­ni­cate and in­spire oth­ers to sup­port the vi­sion for change, be it cre­at­ing a new rou­tine and/or mak­ing whole­sale change. Peo­ple need to know how the change will ben­e­fit them per­son­ally and how it will ben­e­fit the or­ga­ni­za­tion. They also want to know de­tails such as where, when, how and who is in­volved. In many cases, ex­ten­sive ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram­ming and train­ing is needed to up­grade skills and or­ga­ni­za­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Lead­ers need to ex­pect some form of dis­com­fort and in­con­sis­tency as em­ploy­ees be­gin to change be­hav­iour. Watch for open re­sent­ment, de­nial, re­peated ques­tion­ing, and/or ma­li­cious com­pli­ance. In th­ese cases, of­fer em­ployee coun­selling to those in­di­vid­u­als who are sig­nif­i­cantly chal­lenged by your changes. With ex­treme cases, lead­ers may need to gra­ciously move those em­ploy­ees who no longer fit with the vi­sion out of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

No mat­ter what, new be­hav­iours need to be in­cor­po­rated into ev­ery­day or­ga­ni­za­tional pro­cesses and old be­hav­iours and rou­tines need to be re­placed. New re­ward sys­tems need to be devel­oped to sup­port the new ways of do­ing things. And fi­nally, lead­ers must con­tinue to re­in­force and mea­sure the or­ga­ni­za­tional and em­ployee be­hav­iour changes. Hes­kett sug­gests that lead­ers start by track­ing what he calls the four Rs — em­ployee re­ten­tion, re­turns to labour (pro­duc­tiv­ity), re­la­tion­ship with cus­tomers, and re­fer­rals as well as the rate of in­no­va­tion.

It is also well known that many change-man­age­ment ef­forts fail, caus­ing sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial bur­dens as well as the loss of time and pro­duc­tiv­ity. One key rea­son for failed change pro­grams is the lack of com­mit­ment by se­nior ex­ec­u­tives. Se­condly, just as with in­di­vid­u­als, if an or­ga­ni­za­tion at­tempts to make too many changes to em­ployee be­hav­iour at the same time, the re­sult will be con­fu­sion and di­luted com­mit­ment.

It’s a com­mon so­cial tru­ism that in­di­vid­ual be­hav­iour change will re­quire at the very min­i­mum 28 days but in re­al­ity to sus­tain the change, much more time is re­quired. Or­ga­ni­za­tional change on the other hand will re­quire any­where from three to five years. How­ever, the be­hav­iour change process is much the same; ex­am­in­ing the cur­rent sta­tus, ad­dress­ing the po­ten­tial loss and/or lost op­por­tu­nity by not chang­ing rou­tines, then set­ting your goal, putting steps in place to make it hap­pen and es­tab­lish­ing re­wards that will re­in­force the new be­hav­iour.

Source: Habit Form­ing, Iden­tify and re­in­force ac­tions that in­spire your busi­ness, Kathryn Tyler, HR Mag­a­zine, Novem­ber 2012, The Profit Power of Cor­po­rate Cul­ture, Sean Sil­ver­thorne, Septem­ber 2011

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