How to Build Work Habits that Stick

How to Build Work Habits that Stick

“A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.” – Mark Twain

If you want your team to adopt new ways of working, you’ll get better and lasting results if you provide a process and environment that fosters the cultivation of new ways of doing things. Even with support in place, it takes time to change behaviors. Psychologists suggest that most people need about 30 days to create a new habit.

Rules alone don’t change behavior. Neither do fines. Studies have shown that instituting fines to deter bad habits actually has the opposite effect. One study showed that when libraries don’t charge overdue fines, patrons return books faster than when fees are imposed. Another study looked at the effects of imposing fines on parents who are late to pick up their children from daycare. Parents who had been late when there were no fees, were even later and late more often once they had to pay fines. The thinking is that people interpret fines as fees: they are paying for the privilege to be late. if they pay a fine, they’re good.

So, if rules and fines don’t work, how can you motivate your team to adopt and keep new habits? Here’s what the experts suggest:

Prepare for the transition

When you inform your team that you want them to adopt new work behaviors, let them know well in advance and explain the purpose. If your team understands the rationale and benefits of the change, they’ll be motivated to do their best to adopt the new behavior.

Acknowledge slip-ups will occur

Before you implement the change, let employees know you empathize with the challenge of adopting new behaviors and will be providing support to help them as they form new habits.

Take a phased approach

If possible, consider if you can institute the transition in small steps to allow everyone to grow into new habits.

Provide visual cues

Inspirational words and images are a gentle push in the right direction.

Foster a peer-to-peer support system

Train one employee to serve as the “expert” on the transition and ensure that person has bandwidth to help other employees.

Establish accountability

Keep track of progress towards the goal and make the track record visible to your entire team.

Get feedback

Encourage your team to reflect on their experience of the transition and share any challenges. Their feedback may help to improve the transition process and improve overall results for all employees.

Celebrate small wins

As the team improves its adoption rate of the new behaviors, acknowledge their success.

The truth is changing habits is almost always challenging, whether it’s for work or our personal lives. A thoughtful process and supportive environment will improve your team’s chances for a successful transition, and a “we’re in all this together” attitude will make it a better experience for all.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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How Does Your Business Measure Up?

How Does Your Business Measure Up?

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” – Peter Drucker

One of the most effective ways to become a more successful business is measurement. Measuring progress towards your goals provides fact-based, visible evidence that shows very clearly what works and what doesn’t. Data helps inform strategic decisions about whether to continue doing the same activities or to make changes to keep the business on track to achieve goals.

What Is a KPI?

KPI stands for key performance indicator. It is a measurement of progress in an area that is critical to a business. If a business, or an employee, doesn’t perform well in this activity, the business will eventually suffer significantly. Performing the activity well, on the other hand, leads to better overall results for the business.

KPIs can be quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative KPIs are just numbers; for example, if you use email marketing on a regular basis, you can track the number of subscribers or how many people click on the contact button. Qualitative KPIs describe the qualities of something: experiences, feedback, comments and feelings. To stay with the email example, a survey that asks email subscribers what topics are most useful to them provides qualitative data.

While qualitative KPIs may provide deeper insights and take into consideration context, gathering qualitative data is more time consuming that tracking numbers. To return the email example, a rising number of subscribers indicates the email campaigns are hitting the right targets, but qualitative results will show what types of content are driving the rising number of subscribers.

Choosing the Right KPIs Is Critical

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to KPIs. You’ll want to measure activities that matter to your business, not just for the sake of measurement. And be sure to consider the implications improving those numbers might have on the big picture. For example, it might seem like an improvement to challenge employees to prepare beverages faster, but if errors increase as employees rush through the process, service will decline and customers won’t return.

Here are some of the general categories of KPIs:

  • Financial
  • Customers
  • Process
  • Employees

Here are a couple of guidelines that apply to all businesses:

  • Avoid setting too many KPIs
  • Select KPIs that are realistic and attainable

If you’re not currently capturing metrics about your business, I can help you determine the correct KPIs that will inform strategic decisions and accelerate progress towards your goals.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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5 Mindset Hacks for Success

5 Mindset Hacks for Success

“With a big enough why you can overcome any how.”

– James Clear, Atomic Habits author

Is your mindset holding you back from being more successful in your business? If so, check out these 5 hacks to improve your outlook and achieve your goals.

1) Know your why

Negative feelings of being overwhelmed often result from a lack of focus, purpose, and priorities. Remembering why you do what you do will power you through difficult times.

2) Experiment endlessly

Experts talk about the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. As the name implies, a fixed mindset has set limits. It has the capacity to do things extremely well, but not to embrace change. With a growth mindset, your future is unlimited because you can learn, change and adopt new pathways to success.

Your experiments don’t have to be full-blown renderings of new ideas. Try sketching or prototyping new ideas fast and cheap, then testing and refining the ideas before you invest additional resources.

3) Tap the power of affirmations

Just like exercise trains your muscle, affirmations train your thinking. And, both take conscious effort and practice. Research shows that people can rewire their brains through the use of positive affirmations.

4) Build bridges

Investing time in networking and cultivating strong relationships will provide lifelong benefits. Some connections you make can result in enormous business advantages for you years after you initially made the connection. Be open to a wide range of relationships, just not your immediate circle. What you do today may not be what you are doing in the future, so don’t limit your connections to those within your industry or business field.

5) Practice generosity

Author and organizational behavior expert Adam Grant argues that giving is the secret to getting ahead in life and work. When we help others, we give ourselves a sense of being of service, and that feeling can be a powerful motivator and confidence builder. He recommends avoiding thinking of giving your time as a chore that disrupts your routine; rather think of giving your time as an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life or work. Helping others also builds relationships, our #4 hack, so this is a two-for-one hack.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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The 5 Rs of Employee Retention

The 5 Rs of Employee Retention

“To win the marketplace, you must first win the workplace.” ― Doug Contant, business leader

Every time you lose an employee, it may cost you weeks and even months in wages just to replace them. That can add up to a significant chunk of change! 

So, what can you do to stop this from happening? Good employees don’t leave without a good reason. They may be seeking higher wages, improved benefits, development opportunities, better hours or schedule flexibility. 

Do you know how your employees feel about their jobs? You can’t fix what’s not working for them if you don’t know what needs fixing. Regularly scheduled pulse checks keep you tuned in to employees’ feelings about their jobs. 

Here are my 5 Rs – proven practices that will tip the scales in your favor when employees are deciding whether to stay or leave. 

1. Respect Treat everyone who works for you with respect and foster respect in your workplace. 

2. Recognition and rewards Create company traditions where you acknowledge employees’ contributions and achievements. 

3. Relaxation Allow employees to truly take time off when they are away from work for holidays, weekends and scheduled time off. The break allows them to cultivate a healthy work-life balance, which in turn provides a healthy mindset when they’re back on the job. 

4. Responsibility Giving trusted employees new challenges with increased responsibility helps them feel more engaged with their job and instills a sense of purpose and pride. They will feel they are growing with the job, not growing out of the job. 

5. Responsiveness When you show your employees that you hear them, you build stronger relationships. Practice good listening skills when your employees do speak up and always offer a response. Show real interest in what they have to say and be sure you demonstrate that you are looking at things from their perspective, too. An empathetic boss is a major reason employees like their jobs.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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