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Institutional habits

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Beside your desk is probably a thick book of rules, procedures and best practices. There may be a section in there about company values and another about how to conduct a successful meeting.

But then, on the Slack channels, there’s something else happening.

Like it or not, realize it or not, culture is always taking place. It’s adapting, changing, and pivoting. You can’t aways control it, but you can influence it—through habits and routines.

The best companies in the world are run by employees who have developed healthy habits. They aren’t micro-managed, they aren’t machines, but they are trained on how to react to certain cues. Angry customer? They don’t panic, they rely on their training on how to deal with this kind of situation; and the habit of kindness kicks in. Leads aren’t coming in? That’s the trigger that refers them back to whatever acronym they were taught on how to increase traffic; and the habit of productivity takes over.

Dysfunctional organizations have habits, too. Habits that are the catalysts for toxic behavior and catastrophic events. Then some big wig steps in thinking he can change everything by promising more revenue and lower costs. And the race to the bottom continues.

Take a look at the organizations, teams, and institutions that have changed things around. They didn’t see a drastic transformation at first. It happened over time. They started with something simple, celebrated the moral victories and the small wins along the way, and, little by little, started to see bigger and bigger results.

Turns out, we too can see similar transformations when we focus on the simple habits.

Start small. Take it one habit at a time, then give it some time. You will hardly notice a difference. But then, one day, you’ll see that you are different.