Learming Hub
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            [post_content] => A few years ago, I discovered the one single factor which has the highest impact on the relationship between effective management practice and emotional intelligence competences: 

'A manager's ability to change habits with ease.'

While the discovery in itself is certainly not surprising, there is an important question to ask ourselves, whether we are managers or not:

How easily can you change your habits?

Habits allow us to perform very complex tasks with the minimum effort and time. Yet the problem with habits is that, once formed, they become almost invisible, we forget we have them, we just know we do what we do without thinking. Chances are we end up falling into the spiral of doing what we always did even if it doesn't work anymore. We enter into he realm of "unconscious incompetence". Being able to change habits is indeed important and there are various ways to do so. Many books have been written on the subject, but before we can begin the process of changing habits we need to clearly understand which habit to change and which habit to replace it with. Lets take an example of how often we see our face in the mirror. Most of us look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning but we won't usually have a chance to constantly look at our face during the day; we can't see our own expressions as we interact with others, we can't see what our expressions communicate to others as we interact with them. In a deeper sense habits are like facial expressions, unless something reflects them back to us, we can be totally unaware of the true impact they have on others. Just as a mirror reflects our expressions back to us, 'candid feedback' should reflect the impact of our habits as we perform them. Unfortunately such candid feedback is very hard to come by. People around us can see the impacts of our habits more clearly than we can, yet it's often quite difficult for them to point this out, especially if it has a negative connotation. To make matters worse we tend to avoid any sort of negative feedback in the first place and we brace ourselves when someone is about to give it to us for free. Becoming defensive in such instances is an automatic reaction.

So how do we change habits if we can't identify which ones to change?

In the last few decades the practice of coaching has began to gather momentum in organisations. We have seen the powerful impact of coaching in developing high performance in sports, and businesses are trying to emulate this impact. But coaching is foremost a personal tool which enables us to engage in a very open, yet trustworthy relationship with another human being. This relationship is focused on helping us uncover those habits which hold us back while identifying habits to replace them with which open new avenues and opportunities. Coaching is a powerful 'habit-changing' tool that when used appropriately, enables us to truly bring out the best in each one of us. It should form an essential part of our personal development journey, both at work and outside.

Do you have a coach?

Would you like to become one?

IMI Diploma in Executive Coaching combines modern coaching techniques for high performance with a thorough grounding in modern organisational realities. Fabio Grassi is Executive Learning Director at IMI. He is a specialist in the development of team performance, collaboration and motivation. He is passionate about the development of ethical leadership through executive coaching.    [post_title] => The habit of changing habits [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => matter-millimetres [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 21:03:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 21:03:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=8222 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 4759 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2013-04-18 14:45:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-18 14:45:54 [post_content] => Staying analytical, impartial and open to new ideas can be challenging when you are invested in a role and a business. It's a shame, but we often find that managers develop a certain valuable clarity on their organisation only when about to leave a role! Don't leave it until you're changing roles to get the benefit of an aerial view of the organisation.  Here's 5 ways in which thinking like a management consultant can benefit your role and your business.

Young woman looking through window

1. Be impartial - take an outsiders view of the business - Take time when you can to step outside the day to day - it can stop you chipping away at small issues and help you to see the larger challenges at play. 2. Be investigative - but only spend time tracking down the information that really tells you how the business is performing. Always ask yourself - is getting your hands on this information going to give you you valuable insight into the business - or is simply going to drain your time and that of others? In the longer term, this means setting and tracking the right key performance indicators whether it be for yourself, your department or for the organisation as a whole. 3. Value your own time - we don’t all have the benefit of a set project schedule for our job - once months turns into years it is easy to fall into unproductive habits.  Every now and then think; if you were charging your organisation as a supplier, would you be doing what you are doing now? 4. Ignore company boundaries.. be a channel for good ideas - always be on the lookout for other individuals and organisations for ideas that are relevant to your business.  Open innovation is not the preserve of tech companies - it’s simply about taking from the environment around you that which can benefit your business. 5. ..and finally, treat management as your profession - management is relevant to multiple fields but there are practices and behaviours that drive performance in all.  Stay up to date on the latest management publications relevant to your role. Staying connected to what works and continuously developing your expertise means you will be more likely to leave each organisation better than when you found it. Eva Maguire is Strategic Projects Manager at IMI, currently leading IMI’s research project into management practices and productivity which seeks to globally benchmark the management of indigenous and multinational organisations operating in Ireland. [post_title] => Top 5 management consultancy habits to improve your performance [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => top-5-management-consultancy-habits-to-improve-your-performance-6 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 21:48:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 21:48:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.imi.ie/news-and-events/?p=1047 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21835 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2018-01-29 15:12:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-29 15:12:20 [post_content] => [post_title] => 5 Top Tips for Being Focused in Work [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => 5-top-tips-focused-work [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-13 10:33:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-13 10:33:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=21835 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20120 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2017-07-06 08:47:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-06 08:47:35 [post_content] => [post_title] => Efficient paths to being heard amid loud, crowd and cloud [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => efficient-paths-heard-amid-loud-crowd-cloud [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-15 08:14:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-15 08:14:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=20120 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
Maura Dolan

Maura Dolan

13th Feb 2018

Maura Dolan is an IMI Associate Faculty member

Related Articles

The habit of changing habits
Top 5 management consultancy habits to improve your performance
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Efficient paths to being heard amid loud, crowd and cloud

Getting in the Habit

“The lizard brain only wants to eat and be safe. The lizard brain is not merely a concept. It’s real, and it’s living on the top of your spine, fighting for your survival. But, of course, survival and success are not the same thing”.
Seth Godin

New Year’s resolutions are a traditional feature of our society where we resolve to bring about a change in a behaviour or habit to accomplish some long-desired goal and improve our lives. It is also a tradition that it is around this time of year where those new year’s resolutions go into hibernation until next January.

Human routines are stubborn things. Bad habits are hard to break—and they are impossible to break if we try to break too many at the one time – which helps explain why only 12% of all resolutions are successful.

To understand why so many resolutions and decisions to change fail, we need to understand the nature of habits. In the 1970s Dr James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente developed a behaviour theory called the Stages of Change. It is particularly useful when trying to understand behavioural habits. The theory says people go through six cyclical stages when trying to change a habit. These are Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance/Relapse Prevention and Termination.

When at the Pre-contemplation stage, people are not even thinking about changing. They may be in denial or have tried to change a habit so many times they have given up. It is difficult to influence someone at this stage and attempts at influence may even lengthen the time between stages.

In the Contemplation stage, people are thinking about change but are ambivalent about it. They may see giving up a behaviour such as smoking or overeating as a loss rather than a gain. They may seek information about their bad habit and begin to weigh up the barriers and benefits of changing. This stage can take many months.

During the Preparation stage people may experiment with small changes as their determination to transform their behaviour increases. It is at this stage that it may be of benefit to seek the support of a peer, friend, coach or trusted person to set goals and decide how to achieve them.

Action precedes motivation and not the other way around. So, at the action stage, the person makes the change. This action motivates a person to move onto the next step. If the previous stages have been glossed over and no plan has been made, then the action stage is short-lived, and many people relapse to the pre-contemplation stage.

Set your goals (Photo source)

The Maintenance and Preventing Relapse stage is crucial; it is when the new habit is formed. This stage involves incorporating the new behaviour until it becomes a habit. According to statistics, those who keep their resolutions for at least two years report an average of 14 slips or setbacks during that time.

We have to put as much time and effort into forming our good habits as we did into our bad habits. Often people just assume that this stage just happens – it requires thought and support. In the event of a relapse start the cycle again. It takes between 7 and 28 days for a new habit to form, which is the action stage, but maintenance and preventing relapse can take a lifetime.

When the new way of being is firmly in place, fully assimilated into a new way of living, then and only then can we regard the lifestyle change as permanent. Though some awareness and conscious behaviour is required, we can generally call the lifestyle change complete and successful. This is the Termination, or final stage.

For all of us the New Year marks a time of reflection. Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year, the Romans started each year making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. Whatever tradition inspires you to make a change make it a change that is realistic, concentrate on the positive outcomes, celebrate each small success, and above all approach it with a positive ‘can do’ attitude and enjoy the journey.


Maura Dolan is an IMI Associate Faculty member and an accredited fellow of coaching (AFC) facilitator and trainer with over 15 years’ experience coaching senior executives, designing and delivering coach training courses.