Habits are great for improving efficiency, saving us time, effort and energy, but how many of your team are stuck in an unproductive work rut? How may of them are engaging in everyday unhelpful habits which they are unaware off? And how are these habits affecting their everyday performance and productivity? I’d bet it’s effecting their engagement, their resilience and their wellbeing too.

We live out much of our working day in a routine and ritualistic way; unconscious habits, behaviors and patterns of thought give us predictable and re-occurring results. However they don’t always give us the results that we want.

As a leader concerned with improving the performance, productivity and resilience of your team, awareness raising is of paramount importance. Of course it can be difficult to challenge behaviour and employees can be a bit touchy and protective about their personal habits so trust and honesty is essential.

Every week, I hear different teams complaining about various part of their day to day routine, while simultaneously accepting the status quo. In life, but more so in work, most people don’t question how and why they do things, and whether their behaviours are working for them any more.

If you want your team to be happier, healthier and more productive, it’s essential to help them to explore how there are spending their time and where they are focusing their energy.

For example who said that meetings have to be one hour in length? Who decided that the best place for a meeting was inside in a room around a table, sitting on chairs? Let us be honest, so often this meeting format is a complete waste of time. Wouldn’t you like to do things differently?

As we focus on more demanding parts of our roles, we often miss the everyday high frequency behaviors, which affect our mood, our mindset and our energy levels- the really simple things that we do, automatically. For example sitting for much of the day, working reactively or eating lunch at your desk.

Social conditioning and hierarchy can leave employees feeling disempowered and overwhelmed by their workplace culture. This can result in them accepting things as the way they are, not challenging, changing or innovating- stuck in an unproductive rut.

If you want to raise motivation levels and support people to change, allow them to take responsibility for the change, giving them autonomy to do their roles in their own way (where possible.) Coach them to see how their contribution makes a difference and how their work fits with the bigger picture. Autonomy and purpose will help them to feel more engaged and empowered. We all want to feel more satisfied and feel like we are making progress, it feeds motivation and commitment.

Consider how this might work in your organisation, with your team, or in your own life, how much of what you do is working for you and what everyday habits and behaviours hinder your progress and your performance?

For example, in your work place perhaps you are a slave to your emails or your open door policy and limitless availability means that you never feel like you are making progress. These are the most common frustrations, which I hear from my clients. Be honest with yourself and think about how often you are distracted and how much your efficiency decreases when you are constantly on call. If this is the main purpose of your role then that’s great, but so often I hear that it’s not – or even worse people are now unsure of their role and purpose due to poor leadership, bad habits and unproductive working patterns.

How does behaving reactively affect team productivity, morale and performance in the long-term?

This concept relates to other areas of life too, for example, health and your fitness. Poor time management and a lack of planning can leave you feeling stressed out, frustrated and lacking energy, leaving you more likely to skip the gym and comfort yourself in less healthy ways. For example, short term, reactive fixes like alcohol or TV to switch off, mindless social media or comfort eating. The relationship between wellbeing, resilience and performance is well documented.

Don’t keep doing things the way you always have if you want different results. I know it takes bravery and courage to do something different, but whether it’s everyday working habits or ineffective exercise patterns, how frustrating and demotivated do you feel doing things which no longer work?

  1. Take some time out to reflect on your working day yesterday. Start making a plan to make changes to build in habits which will leave you feeling more satisfied and energised. These can be simple things like working in a different space, walking outside at lunchtime, or turning off your email notifications.
  2. Get your team to reflect on a topic or element of their role, which is within their power to change. Ask them questions to identify better ways of doing things, if they are involved and engaged in the change they are more likely to make the change work.
  3. Consider a lifestyle pattern, which is not serving you well, for example checking emails late at night, comfort eating, or complaining. How can you interrupt this pattern and make better use of your time, money or energy?
  4. How could empowering and supporting your team with strategies to achieve their personal goals impact positively on their work performance?

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© Performance Circle 2016