Habit: an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary

Habits don’t happen overnight. They are developed over time and through repetition. Many habits are positive: your daily walk, looking before you cross the street, and calling your mom on Mother’s Day. Other habits are bad: smoking a pack a day, always running late, and not calling your mom on Mother’s Day.

And then there are those habits that are, well, just kind of hanging around. Perhaps they started off as good habits but have outlived their usefulness and aren’t serving anyone well.

When it comes to your business, it’s important to constantly examine key behaviors to see which ones are purposeful and which are merely old habits. Ritualized routines may keep you busy, but intentional behaviors are what will get you where you need to go.

Every organization and industry has practices that make perfect sense in that context but might seem nutty if implemented across the board. Take safety glasses, for instance. If you’re in manufacturing, wearing them is a necessary and fantastic habit. But if you’re heading into a sales meeting with them on, you’re going to make everybody pretty nervous.

The key is to define your purpose and goals and continuously re-evaluate your practices until every single thing you do is aligned. Getting rid of extraneous behaviors and habits will free you up to concentrate on the things that matter most. If you’re looking for an easy place to start, here are a couple of habits you can kick today.

1.) Meeting for the sake of meeting

According to research by Ovum, employees are having more meetings than ever before. In fact, 91% of all employees surveyed said that the number of meetings they’re having is either static or rising, and a whopping 67% of employees reported that more than half of the meetings they attend are not of value.

Okay. So you’ve held department meetings every Tuesday afternoon for as long as you can remember. This doesn’t mean you need to continue. Now is the time to stop and ask yourself:

  • Are these meetings motivating, productive and necessary?
  • Do they result in fresh ideas and new projects?
  • Do they convey critical information that can’t be found elsewhere?
  • Are they educational sessions designed to help your staff grow and improve?
  • When you think about all of the things your team needs to accomplish, does sitting in these meetings still seem like a good use of their time?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, congratulations! Your meetings are an intentional good habit and very likely helping you reach your goals. If you’re unsure whether or not your meetings are productive, here’s a quick litmus test:

If you’re scheduling meetings with no particular agenda (a general round-robin doesn’t count), no defined end time, and no specific takeaways, it’s definitely time to re-think your strategy.

Could you do a ten-minute team huddle instead of an hour long session? What about getting together every two weeks? Or even monthly? How else might you be able to communicate regularly and effectively as a group? There are plenty of instant messaging and project management programs that facilitate efficient group communications.

If you’re feeling nervous about cutting back on meetings, relax. They key lies in the quality of the sessions, not the quantity or frequency. When you do have meetings, make them count. Give yourself and your team the gift of time well spent. Whether it’s a staff meeting, project discussion, or training session, make sure your employees leave the room smarter and better prepared to do their jobs.

2.) Awkward Cake Parties

Oh, man. The awkward cake party. No matter what business you’re in, this is one we can all let go of. It might be a really sweet idea, literally and figuratively, but it’s time to give it the boot. The amount of time, resources and calories spent on endless birthday celebrations can get downright overwhelming, especially if there are financial obligations and gifts involved. It may not sound like much, but expecting employees to devote time and money to these kinds of activities isn’t necessarily appropriate. Here’s a real-life example:

One company had an informal department policy that the person whose birthday fell before yours was responsible for buying you whatever kind of treat you wanted on your birthday, and making sure there was enough for the entire department. Once this was accomplished, the birthday baton would be passed and you would then be responsible for the next person on the list. And while all of these people were all super nice and well-meaning, some of them were doing very well financially and some of them were broke. Yet all of them were responsible for buying treats for the entire team when it was their turn. Over time, people began to dread the endless stream of cake parties— and carbs in general. Soon the treats themselves were sitting around awkwardly, much like the people in the room. But here’s the thing: No one knew how to break the habit.

Should you celebrate successes at work? Absolutely! But how about taking the focus off of individuals and putting it on the team? Celebrate your company’s birthday. Or hitting your quarterly goals. Or adding that cool, new division. There are lots of ways to get together and have fun as a team, so get creative. Just make sure your staff isn’t responsible for picking up the tab. 

This may seem like an insignificant thing in the grand scheme of running your business, but the point here is this:

When it comes to running your business, there is no such thing as an insignificant thing.

Everything you do matters, and all of it should be 100% intentional. If you’ve got habits hanging around that make no sense, it’s time to re-direct them or let them go.

Photo by Alphaspirit

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