How to make behaviour change a habit
Today, we take a look at their advice on how to make behaviour change a habit so it becomes part of you and not something you have to consciously think about, from the authors of Fair Talk: Three steps to powerful feedback, Angela Lane and Sergey Gorbatov.
So you believe we are capable of growth. How do you intentionally make it happen?
In his best-selling book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg defined habits as the choices that all of us deliberately make at some point and the stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day. The words that stand out here are:
- Choices: If we do something at will, then itâ€™s up to us if we want to create or change a good, or a bad habit.
- Deliberately: Habits are not created on a whim but by our conscious actions.
- Stop thinking: As actions become automatic, we become unaware of what we are doing â€“ that is, we no longer monitor or see our behaviourâ€¦ while others do.
- Every Day: The impact of uncontrolled actions is so significant that, according to studies by researchers at Duke University, up to 40% of our daily actions are not decisions. They are habits. As much as we want to think of ourselves as rational and in control, we are creatures of habit.
Habits may have a bad rep. â€śThis is habitual of himâ€ť or â€śShe has this old habit ofâ€¦â€ť But, in fact, habits can be a force for good. Letâ€™s imagine that you want to get into a habit of giving feedback. What do you do?
According to research, the behaviour will be performed when:
- It is possible â€“ giving feedback is totally possible
- It is remembered at the moment â€“ hmmmâ€¦ you may need a reminder;
- The preference for its performance is higher than that for any competing behaviour â€“ what would you possibly want to do instead of giving feedback?
This is a powerful framework that can help us understand how we can build productive habits in ourselves and in our team members.
- Is It Possible?
People learn best through experience or practice. To make experience possible, it must be specific and small. The good thing about this is that you can practise them. Geoff Colvin talks about the concept of deliberate practice to make acquiring new skills possible. Deliberate practice is something that (1) is specific to practising the skill that you want to acquire, (2) is repetitive, (3) you can get instant feedback on and (4) is not much fun â€“ because if it were, you would probably have the habit already!
- Is it Remembered In The Moment?
The strength of a habit will decrease over time. Unless you practise. Associate new behaviours with hints and reminders â€“ those are the situational cues that you create for yourself. In his book Triggers, executive coach Marshall Goldsmith talks about creating reminders and routines that help you stay on track of meaningful behavioural change. He uses the example of a speed-check display. Those happy faces that appear o screen when you drive at or below the permitted speed limit â€“ they actually increase good driving behaviours by 30-60%.
- Is It Preferable?
Duhigg talks about the cue-routine-reward loop by which new habits are formed; when we receive a cue or trigger it stimulates a set of behaviours of a routine and the rewards that follow provide the incentive to repeat this cycle whenever a similar cue is received. We already have established that practising new skills might not be fun, so you have to ensure that the reward is present.
Letâ€™s use you, and the behaviour of giving feedback, as our example. Letâ€™s say you see a cue, the poor behaviour of one of your team members. It is negatively impacting their performance and relationship with others. You could do anything. That is an alternative. But instead, this cue triggers your feedback routine. You give FairTalk feedback. And the reward is immediate! You fair. Your direct report is sincerely thankful and highly motivated to improve, Your leadership credibility soars.
Biologically we are wired to change. We form new synapses when we try new behaviours and reinforce new neural pathways through deliberate practice. A behaviour is performed (practised) when it is possible, remembered in the moment and preferred over the alternatives. Mindset matters greatly for behavioural change to be effective. Those who adopt a growth mindset are more successful at work and in life.
About the book
The rating economy is here â€“ it is time to get onboard with feedback
- Authoritative and informativeâ€“based on a combination of academic research and observations of real-life managers.
- Practical approachto performance management.
- Learn how to develop a feedback culture in your business.
- A new book challenging how we think about feedback.
Employees around the world are deprived of honest objective feedback, and the higher you go in the organisation, the less feedback you are going to get. Researchers confirmed that the fewer facetime employees have with their managers, the more impact seeking and receiving feedback will have on their performance.
Gorbatov and Lane propose a simple, systematic approach to giving fair and honest feedback, in ways that improve performance and prove that, if done properly, feedback simultaneously improves performance while engaging and developing employees.
About the authors
Angela Lane and Sergey Gorbatov work and write about the complex science of human performance while making it simple. Leveraging Fortune 500 experience gained across four continents, they equip leaders with practical tools for success.
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