Organizational Habits

Evaluation of our daily habits to determine which habits contribute to our success and fulfillment versus those that do not is not a new idea.  It may be difficult for us to realize why we do the things we do, make the changes we desire and ensure we follow through; however, we all need to become more conscious about the impact our habits have on our daily outcomes.

Research shows that unconscious habits make up 40% of our day.  Let’s really think about what that means.  If we are awake for 16 hours a day, the research indicates that 6.4 hours of our day would be consumed by unconscious habitual activities.  Wow! It doesn’t seem possible, does it?  What could be even worse is, imagine if the majority of those unconscious habits are contrary to what you want for your life. 

In addition to our own personal habits, what are the organizational habits that impact us each day?  I can honestly say that I never thought about organizational habits until I read a recent article published by the habitsHarvard Business Review.  There is no specific research that I found on the impact of organizational habits to the overall profitability of the company; however, it would stand to reason that it could be quite profound.  There are habits that encourage behaviours of a team to drive better results and presumably there are also habits that impeded, restrict or burden the organization and it’s people unnecessarily.

Reflecting on the concept of organizational habits, I am able to identify habits that I experienced throughout my career yet never consciously identified as a habit.  For instance, while working for a manufacturing company, the organization adopted the LEAN philosophy and principles. The principles surrounding this philosophy led to the formation of organizational habits to ensure that we stayed on track with key performance indicators or identified areas for immediate course correction.  While working in a private equity firm, as a member of the senior leadership team, we developed an organizational habit of meeting every Friday afternoon to debrief on the week, recalibrate on the overall vision and reset priorities for the week to come.  During my time in a recruiting firm, we had regular morning meetings to share ideas, practice our craft and challenge the status quo.  In all the above examples, there were measurable positive results that support the impact of organizational habits.

It’s actually quite easy to identify habits that help us achieve our goals; however,  I wonder which organizational habits may hinder our progress?  Examples of poor organization habits are more difficult to find because, just like with our personal habits, we ignore them, avoid talking about them or have just never paused long enough to consider the impact they may have.  One example that comes to mind is the budgeting process when I worked for a public company.  The organization dedicated an enormous amount of time and resources to the development of an annual budget, to the point of over-processing and wasting time and effort. I’m not suggesting that budgeting or dedicating time to ensure we are delivering on our promises to our investors is a waste of time; however, there were several inefficiencies in the organizational process that we perpetuated year after year out of shear habit.  We lost our ability to critically question the effectiveness of what we were doing as we performed the duties out of habit. We were no longer conscious of the impact on our time and resources and focused mainly on the deadline.

I will need to reflect further to clarify what personal and organizational habits are currently holding me back or that will hold me back if I don’t make a change.  Being conscious of what my habits are is the first step, but choosing to make a change and then taking the actions necessary to do so are the keys to success.

My challenge to you…reflect on your personal habits and those of your organization and make conscious decisions as to whether they will help you achieve your goals and then change them if necessary. 

I am very interested to explore this topic further and hear your perspectives. – e-mail me at: breppert@projectshine.ca