Habits are hard to break, especially if we don’t know we’re doing them. In business, some habits can have a negative impact on your ability to grow and succeed. It’s easy to get tied up in the day-to-day needs of your business in this 24-hour, infinitely connected world. Daily management and short term problem solving can take up your whole attention, leaving little room for reflection.
You’re so busy ‘doing’, you’re falling into bad habits without even realising it. Identifying bad habits – and replacing them with good habits – can have a dramatic effect on your people, productivity and future success. With that in mind, here are five bad habits to stop doing now, and shake up your business…
Most of us are guilty of procrastination in all areas of life. Some things are just hard work and so we put them to the bottom of the to-do list, or think up reasons why they can’t be dealt with right there and then. ‘We don’t have the right resources’, or ‘We just need to get this big job done’ or a hundred other excuses get thrown out to make us feel better about not dealing with that little problem or making that change. But, left unchecked, that little problem can turn into a big issue.
We might get as far as planning out how we are going to resolve issues, achieve a goal or make a change, but the planning itself becomes just another way of putting off any actual action.
You may think you are super productive; you’re a master of the to-do list, schedules and plans, and you’re always, always busy. Yes, you get stuff done, but is it the right stuff? Is it the things that will drive your business towards long lasting success?
How To Tell If You’re A Procrastinator:
- You put things off until the last minute
- You let tasks that could be delegated take up your focus
- The task is so enormous that you don’t know where to start and so you don’t
- You lack focus and flip from one task to the next before they are complete
- You are focusing on the tasks you like to do rather than those you need to do
Overcoming procrastination is a mindset. You have to make a decision to pick up that post-it note hidden in your drawer and deal with it today. It’s a bit like trying to get into a cold swimming pool. You dip a toe in, then back off. You might ease in up to your waist and stand there for a bit while you get used to the temperature. But if you really want to swim, you just have to dive in. It’s a bit of a shock, but you’ll feel better for it.
Once you’ve made that mental commitment to stop procrastinating and deal with a task, it’s time for action. Different methods work for different people. Try focusing on intensively clearing all other tasks for the day, leaving time to start your project. Or set aside a time every week where you will work on it. List your distractions and delegate or stay away from them. You can also seek professional advice; whether that’s coaching to keep you challenged and to give perspective, or support to implement wide spread change.
Sticking With The Status Quo…
Business as usual – it works for you, so why change it? You know what you’re doing and it works well enough. But are you cruising along on autopilot without realising? The problem with autopilot is that you take your eye off the road and you might not see the dangers ahead. Have you stopped checking on your competitors? Lost sight of market trends? Let your company culture slip? Let teams and individuals drift into complacency? Maybe you’ve just lost your ‘buzz’.
Doing the same things in the same way in an ever-changing climate is not the way to build a sustainable business. You need to constantly evolve your processes, your service offering, and your corporate culture to keep your people and business refreshed and at the peak of performance.
If your business is stuck in a rut, you need real change. And implementation is only half the battle; you need to sustain that change.
You may not even know what form that change needs to take or how to make it happen, but acknowledging a change is necessary is an important first step.
An audit may be the place to start. Take a comprehensive look at your existing processes, practices and culture and try to identify where they can be improved. Some things may be relatively simple to change, such as introducing new workflow management software to improve efficiency. Other things, such as company culture, are not so easy.
This has to be embedded across the entire organisation, with buy-in from all team members. They need to believe in and be excited by what you are doing or trying to achieve. But they will quickly fall back into complacency and bad habits if the change is not sustained. It’s worth seeking out expert advice and support for wider change projects.
Being Reactive Instead Of Proactive…
Do you often feel like you’re just fighting fires in the day-to-day running of your business? Solving problems as they come up, rather than putting a framework in place to stop the problems forming in the first place? There’s just no time for any real reflection or forward planning – or is there?
You can’t afford to sit around waiting for problems to hit you. For example, if you’re not proactive in keeping up with market trends they can overtake you to the point where your product or services are irrelevant (think Blackberry being overtaken by the iPhone, or all those High Street giants who fell to the power of the internet).
Again, being proactive is a mindset. It’s shaking yourself out of complacency; it’s seeing the bigger picture; it’s planning ahead. It’s all those things that are really hard to do when you are up to your neck in running your business. But you cannot create success from being reactive; dealing with disaster when it has already happened. You need to see the danger ahead and plan a route around it.
Not Looking At The Bigger Picture…
We’ve touched on this subject already, but it’s an area where most businesses struggle. It really is vital to make time for reflection; take a step back from the daily operations and think properly about what your business is doing, where it’s going and where you want to go. Are you on track with your five year plan? Does your plan need updating? Maybe you don’t have a plan and it’s time to make one. What are your goals? Do you know how to achieve them? Do you have the right people, attitudes and processes in place to achieve them?
What are your competitors doing? Is there market disruption you need to pay attention to? If you get bogged down in your general emails, meetings, contracts, or finances you will miss the very important stuff and store up problems for down the line.
It’s a big ask, so where on earth do you start? Try taking one issue at a time and think about how you can break it down. For example, market conditions. Are there newsletters you can subscribe to (make sure you clear some time to actually read them), influencers you can follow on social media, reports you should be reading, news alerts you can set up for specific topics? Stay informed in whatever way works for you.
Schedule a regular time to check in on competitors old and new. And don’t forget to audit yourself and your own business too.
Managing Not Leading…
Life is busy. We get it. But sometimes we are spinning so many plates that we don’t stop to think if they are the right plates. It’s the same for managers. You can fall into bad habits that lead to unproductive, disengaged teams, and not even know you are doing it.
Teams and individuals need trust and space to fully excel at their projects. Over-managing; telling them what to do and how to do it, instead of giving them the opportunity to be creative can leave them feeling flat, uninspired and disinterested. They stop caring about what they’re doing or taking any pride in the business and what you stand for. Teams that don’t feel valued will not perform at their ultimate level.
Take a look at your managers. Are they managing instead of leading? Are they pouring their focus into tasks that could be done elsewhere or delegated? Are they overbearing in the daily running of their departments? It could be time they took a step back and concentrated on being proactive, seeing the big picture and thinking about doing things differently.
They also need to work on their own skills so they can stop managing and start leading teams to greater success. Managers need to inspire and empower individuals to work smarter, be more creative and engage in your business.
Our solutions are geared towards holistic and sustainable change, using tools from personalised coaching to company-wide culture change programmes. If you need help to break any of these bad business habits,or want to find out more about the power of habit, sign up for my free video series on The CPR Method and how it can transform your business…