Steps to Management Success – Step 43: Break Bad Business Habits

Written By Rick Frishman Published March 31st, 2010

STEP FORTY-THREE

Break Bad Business Habits

As a conscientious and determined businessperson, you do everything in your power to make smart decisions and take fruitful actions. Sure, you do your best to avoid mistakes, but you may still be making bad moves every day. They’re not the kind of errors that will stand out to you, because you’re used to making them. They’re bad business habits—knee-jerk, routine actions made without forethought but carrying plenty of consequences. And because they come to you so naturally, you may find nothing wrong with them.

WHAT IT MEANS: In business, as in life, there are all kinds of habits that get in the way of working with others, being more productive, and doing your best. Maybe you send too many e-mails or check them too often. Maybe you waste a good half hour or more every morning drinking coffee or making small talk or just fiddling around in general before settling down to work. Perhaps you’re too abrasive, too loud, or given to interrupting other people. Maybe you’ve mistaken “business casual” for “sloppy.” Nobody’s perfect, and everyone has weaknesses—but if your bad business habits are getting in the way of your effectiveness and reputation, it’s your job to start working on them. Don’t wait until someone has to bring them to your attention. By then, it may already be too late.

ACTION PLAN: Bad business habits, like all habits, are hard to break. It’s an automated action triggered over and over. Once you recognize your habit is hurtful, you’re halfway there. Now try to catch yourself in the act and stop it in its tracks. Then tell yourself what you should do instead. With persistence, you can reprogram yourself.

EVEN BETTER: Work with a business coach to identify and improve your weaknesses. His or her objectivity and expertise in these matters are two solid advantages that you just can’t bring to the table by yourself. To locate a good coach, ask some of your contacts (outside your company—you want to keep this confidential), do a Web search, or look for ads in your local business papers. They are not too hard to find.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)


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