Businesses, like individuals, have habits. Most companies are not even aware of them. They go unnoticed by its leaders and company personnel. Habits are automated routines that occur without thinking. Some habits are good and some are bad. Organizational bad habits can be as infectious as the Ebola virus, spreading throughout the organization, infecting one employee after another. These organizational bad habits, when left unchecked, will eventually become a part of your company’s culture, hampering your growth. Below is a list of some of the organizational bad habits that you might not even be aware of in your company:
- Email – Employees continuously checking their emails throughout the day. There is no such thing as effective multitasking. Humans are simply incapable of focusing on more than one task at a time. Each time an employee checks their email, they become disengaged from the task at hand. They shift their attention, even momentarily, each time they check their email. Studies show that a person who is interrupted, takes 50% longer to accomplish a task. This wasted time creates inefficiency that adds up daily, monthly, annually and over the course of an employee’s career with the company. Not only that, employees make mistakes switching back and forth from from tasks: work to email and back to work. Checking email throughout the day wastes time, causes mistakes and costs the company money. The fix is to create an organizational good habit requiring every employee to isolate a block of time each day to check their email.
- Gossiping – Gossiping is a bad habit. It is destructive communication. It damages working relationships and distracts employees from getting work done. Their minds are elsewhere, after being stabbed in the back by gossip. Plus gossip is a negative use of time. Employees gossiping about other employees or their boss is a negative use of time. When employees spend time gossiping, they have lost valuable time communicating about other important work-related issues that may need solving. They are focused on negative, destructive communication, rather than positive, constructive communication. The best most successful companies have a “no gossip” policy. Dave Ramsey, famed radio host, has a “no gossip” policy in his company for this reason.
- Blame – Something is always going wrong when you run a business. It’s part of the business environment. How you deal with mistakes and failures, as an organization, can dictate the overall success or failure of your business. When leaders assign blame to employees for mistakes and failures, and when this blame causes negative career consequences to that employee, they are creating an organizational bad habit. Too many organizations have a Cover Your Ass mindset rooted in the planning and assignment of blame whenever anything goes wrong. Eventually, this infects the entire organization. The fix is to create a culture of seeing mistakes and failures as a good thing; a learning experience. That employee’s failure or mistake may very well uncover and important “what not to do” lesson that could benefit others in the organization. Organizations who have a culture of encouraging mistakes and failures, grow. They create a culture where employees have no fear and readily take individual responsibility for their mistakes. They own the mistake. Companies who punish for mistakes don’t grow, lose market share and eek out a small profit or loss. In my organization I reward mistakes because that means we learned something that will help us in the future become better as a team.
- Excessive Planning – Too much planning is a bad organizational habit. Excessive planning is rooted in fear. Fear holds organizations back from growing. It is far better to take action and fail then to plan for every possible contingency. Only through action will companies find out what works and what doesn’t. The fix is to set a deadline on planning for new accepted projects. When that deadline comes, action commences. Even if it means all of your ducks are not lined up. Organizations who act, grow. Those who don’t, stagnate.
- Ignoring Employee Feedback – Feedback is critical to growth as an organization. Unfortunately, too many businesses feign interest in employee feedback but never act on that feedback. This disempowers employees, and will eventually lead to no feedback whatsoever. Acting on employee feedback empowers employees and motivates them to brainstorm for solutions, knowing their feedback will be acted upon.
Have you ever given any thought as to what organizational bad habits are holding your company back from moving ahead in achieving the overall goals of the company? Changing your organizational bad habits is a 3 step process:
- AWARENESS: Leaders need to seek feedback from their employees to help identify organizational bad habits.
- SUBSTITUTION: Once they become aware of organizational bad habits, they can eliminate them and substitute them with organizational good habits.
- TRACKING: The final step is to track the adoption of new organizational good habits throughout the organization at all levels, not just at the higher levels.
Companies need to make good organizational habits a part of their culture if they want to achieve their overall vision and goals, which is how organizations grow.