The Power of Habits on Performance Management and Personal Effectiveness

June 23, 2015 - 5 minute read - Posted by

I recently co-hosted a webinar with Fluencia on the power of habits in performance managements. One of the most impactful, and often overlooked, habit that is most relatable to both the personal and professional is that of perfectionism.

Everyone can relate to going through the anxiety or being hesitant to get feedback on unfinished work. But why does this happen? The reason is the continuous desire to be perfect is a habit of character.  Habits of character can control our emotions and ultimately our personal effectiveness at work.

Perfectionism: an example of a bad habit of character — it’s linguistically restrictive

It’s commonly understood that perfectionism is linked to high quality outputs. While this statement can be true, perfectionism is actually a bad habit.

Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. It puts you into a restrictive, negative mindset.
  2. It leaves little opportunities to receive actionable feedback.

This happens due to a fear of the unknown that comes with receiving feedback. Unknowns make individuals defensive. These outcomes are counterproductive to producing high quality work.

Perfectionism is not only a bad personal habit, but in the context of organizations, it’s a bad keystone habit.

Keystone habits drive organizational success

Keystone habits are different than commonly understood habits, such as putting toothpaste on your toothbrush when brushing your teeth.

They have four distinguishable characteristics:

  1. They are contextual. They don’t occur all the time. They are triggered by specific routines that lead to the onset of particular emotions or behaviours.
  2. They are small, easy habits that create ripple effects. They are small enough to be ordinary and easy. They springboard other habits that contribute to a larger, values-driven behaviour set.
  3. They compound to create routines. Keystone habits create a ripple effect to other habits. They drive common routines adopted within organizations.
  4. They are habits associated to behaviours. Unlike regular habits that are conducted effortlessly, there’s often delayed gratification in the habit loop when it comes to keystone habits.

So what can you do about a bad habit of character or keystone habit?

Change bad habits by altering your mindset and focus

By changing how you mentally associate a habit,, you can turn a negative, restrictive mindset into a open, actionable routine. For example, changing the habit of perfectionism to the habit of excellence. The technical term for changing how you present choice is known as Choice Architecture. Choice architecture relates to how you frame something in your mind. It answers the question, “If I adopt this new way of thinking, what do I get in return?

Framing high quality outputs through the habit of excellence instead of the habit of perfectionism, you create a new mindset where you can easily identify the returns. This can include:

  • Increased team collaboration on projects
  • Continuous actionable feedback throughout both the creation as well as deliverables
  • A focus on creativity instead of anxiety
  • And most importantly – less anxiety related to the unknown

The focus goes on the reward of overcoming the bad habit. This builds a sustainable new good habit. To change any behaviour, you have to be OKAY knowing that there is no guarantee of success.

Routines are not tangible resources, they are harder to keep track of

Our webinar goes into the habit of perfectionism in more detail, but the biggest takeaway in changing any habit is that you HAVE to expect discomfort and inconsistency. Nothing changes overnight, except for maybe a bad hair day.

Secondly, it’s important to ask yourself,”do I consistently create from a place of self-knowledge and awareness?” Having a strong answer to this question will help you understand the purpose behind the day-to-day activities driving your habits.

And remember… done is better than perfect.

Learn more by watching the full webinar here:

June 17th, 2015 7Geese Webinar – The Power of Habits from 7Geese.
Access the presentation slides here.

Have any questions or experiences with habits that you’d like to share? Let’s chat in the comments below!

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