Wednesday, 6 February 2019

How to identify your bad habits at work and sort them out

Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to find fault in others yet we seldom take the time to review our own working practices? Nobody is perfect, that’s true. It is only by recognising and acknowledging our own failings at work that we can start to do something about addressing them.

We’re not talking about the big things either – like the kind of development issues that should feature on your annual training plans for example – we’re looking at the annoying little habits that have crept into your work routines. The behaviours that are likely infuriating your co-workers and stopping you from achieving your full potential.

We take a look at some of the most common bad habits at work – and what we can do to nip them in the bud.

(Not) ready for anything
Do you pride yourself on getting through each working day by the seat of your pants? Do you consider yourself an expert at winging it in team meetings? Being unprepared is unavoidable at times – but managers and co-workers can easily see through colleagues who do not take the time to organise themselves. They don’t think you’re too busy, they take it as a sign that you don’t value what you are doing. Our top tip is to plan as much time into your diary to prepare as you will spend at the meeting itself. If you find time management an issue, there are lots of resources you can use to help you. Read these tips from Psychology Today, which  are designed for home-workers but apply equally to people who are office based.

Too late!
There’s always that one co-worker who never arrives on time! We’re all busy people – so if this is you, perhaps it’s time to think about two things: 1) the impact your tardiness has on your team mates (why are you so special that everyone must wait for you?) and 2) what is it that makes you late? This article from Psychology Today suggests that often it is through the fear of wasting time – unfortunately, the impression that constant lateness makes is the exact opposite: that you couldn’t care less about the meeting – or your job and colleagues.


Loose lips

It’s great to get to know your colleagues and co-workers on a social level, it really helps to develop a collaborative and constructive team environment. However, if you find your chitter chatter usually involves talking about the people that you work with, then you need to do something about it. Although fun at the time, gossiping can make you look untrustworthy, not only that it also wastes a lot of valuable time, which others can resent. Try to make all your chatter constructive and work-related, keep away from the personal stuff – that’s best left for the pub!

Dream on

Every team needs a dreamer – they’re the ones who keep others motivated by reminding us all of what is possible and the dizzy heights we can all aspire to. Daydreamers are the ideas people, they are creative and help us to solve problems. However, daydreaming can also be a sign of someone who isn’t fully committed to their job, or their employer. If you like to let your mind wonder, do it constructively – and set yourself a timer, so that your full day isn’t ‘wasted’ looking up to the stars while the everyday toil gets neglected.

These are just a few of the most common bad habits people display at work. What would you add? We’d welcome your comments!

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Why it’s important to review your year’s achievements and look ahead

It’s fair to say that in today’s challenging economic climate many employees are expected to do and deliver more – often with less resources.

When you’re on a hamster wheel at work, it can be hard to carve out the time to reflect on your performance and achievements. However hard it is, self-reflection is a critical process if we are ever to do things differently – or if we have desires to stretch and grow at work.

Self-reflection is a way of assessing yourself, your ways of working and how you learn. Managers go through this process regularly with their team but it’s not often that we turn the lens around and look at our own performance. This article from HR Zone explains how – and why – the practice of self-reflection is key to identifying opportunities and to changing our habitual work practices so that we get better results.

When we talk about the process of reflection, what we’re really talking about is questioning – in a positive way – what we do and why we do it that way. It's only by doing this that we can assess whether there is a better way going forward. Of course, reflection can be done at any time in the year, but the start of the new year is a great time to set out your plans and priorities for the twelve months ahead. It’s also the time when we're most open to embracing new ways of doing things – so evaluating personal skills can really help to identify changes we might need to make.

It might be helpful to structure your questioning in the following areas:

  • Strengths – are you well organised? Do you connect well with colleagues and customers? 
  • Weaknesses – are you easily distracted? Do you take on more than you should for fear of disappointing others? Are you inflexible and reluctant to change how you work? 
  • Skills – what are your core skills currently and what skills are you looking to develop? 
  • Achievements – what have you delivered this year that are you most proud of? 
  • Happiness – what gives you joy at work? What tasks do you look forward to? 

Think also about any external factors that may have impacted your work over the year. Perhaps there were problems at home or with the children that took a lot of your attention over a certain period of time – identifying these external pressures enables us to better assess how we perform at work under stress.

Although self-reflection can seem difficult at first, there is evidence from Harvard Business School that it really does positivelyimpact on performance - so remember, practice makes perfect. You will find that it becomes easier and that the end result is not only a more productive year ahead – but also a happier and more fulfilling one too.