The alarm sounds evil when it beeps at 5:30 AM, and I want to ignore it and go back to sleep. Rolling out of bed requires a debate in my head about the benefits of rising early and managing the day versus the consequences of being lazy. Once I’m up I feel great, enjoy the drive to the gym, and am glad that I put in a workout first thing in the morning. My body doesn’t always feel like doing it, but my brain knows that I’ll feel guilty if I skip it. That’s what a habit can do for you.
Once you’ve developed a positive daily habit, your mind reminds you—nags you—until you’ve followed through on it. I interviewed Nido Qubein, the President of Highpoint University in North Carolina, and he said something simple and profound, “Life is about discipline or regret. Pick one of the two.” You either have the discipline to do what needs to be done and what should be done to achieve your personal and professional goals or you regret the lack of action and results in your life. Your brain will not let you forget. It knows what you want to do.
If you want to be a better manager, creating habits is one way to get there. Here are some good habits to develop:
- Make sure your employees know exactly what is expected of them by asking them about their priorities and sharing your priorities.
- Thank them with a handshake and a smile when they’re doing well.
- Let people know what you like by being specific with positive feedback. Saying, “You’re doing a good job,” is meaningless. Say, “I can count on you because you’re here on time, ready to work, have enthusiasm, and are diplomatic with the customers.”
- Give corrective feedback as soon as it’s necessary. Don’t wait.
- Be approachable. Make time for the people who are making you look good.
- Ask, “What should I know that I don’t seem to know?”
- Ask, “How can I help you succeed?”
Doing what needs to be done, whether you want to do it or not, usually generates a feeling of accomplishment and gets results. Work on those daily habits, the ones that will lead to greater performance for you and your team, and your management skills will grow daily. Why live with regret when a little discipline can give you great satisfaction?
Written by Scott Mastley, SPHR, MBA. Scott is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Resource Alliance. Scott is a consultant, not an attorney, so he shares his opinions, not legal advice, about increasing performance and limiting liability.