My Career Limiting Habit

Recently, we attempted to prove that there are profound effects when we fail to speak up in a way that’s direct, honest, and respectful. Out of our approximate 1,100 respondents, 97% identify at least one “career-limiting habit” in themselves.

For me, it’s procrastination — and I don’t just procrastinate little tasks. I tend to procrastinate the jobs that I dislike the most.

Procrastination is a behavioural problem. Managers say behaviour problems are the biggest barrier to career advancement. You don’t need to go back to school to learn technical skills, you need to learn to change the habit. Yet, in most cases employees are faced with a less than one in ten chance of being able to successfully change a bad habit.

It gets worse.

We don’t feel much more optimistic than our bosses. When we recognise a career-limiting habit in ourselves, we’re unsure if we’ll ever be able to change it. Ultimately, we’re held back — not by our skill-set, but by our seemingly unchangeable habits.

When we don’t change, we suffer. In fact, 87% of employees have suffered economically because they didn’t change. We want to change, we know we have to change, but often can’t can’t.

Why not?

Performance management processes don’t lead to performance improvement.

The health of a relationship, a team, or an organisation is a function of the following: the average lag time between identifying and discussing problems. And remember, those discussions need to be direct, honest, and respectful.

These crucial conversations come easier when we understand these three big ideas.

Idea #1: Some conversations are more crucial than others.

Here’s the deal: 98% of the time, 98% of us do 98% of the right stuff in conversations. That means that 2% of the time, 2% of us do 2% of the wrong stuff. It seems that tiny percentage has a hugely disproportionate impact on our success and the success of the organisation.

Idea #2: The way you start a conversation determines how it will end.

It’s what we call the hazardous half-minute. That first 30 seconds sets the tone of the entire interaction.

Idea #3: We don’t have performance problems as much as we have influence problems.

Rather than simply describing someone’s performance and hope they get better, we need a robust strategy for influencing them (and ourselves) to get better.

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