Habits and rituals are both a consequence and an influencer of corporate culture. In many cases, habits are purely coincidental and a result of the people grouped together and the office space they occupy.

Here are some of the habits we have experienced in previous environments:

  • Breaks are centred around a cup of coffee and a smoke break outside the office building
  • Meeting minutes are taken by the most junior person in the meeting
  • Everyone eats lunch at their desks
  • E-mails are used for all internal communication – even the most informal of chats

These habits aren’t necessarily good or bad. In some organisations, some habits might lead to toxic behaviour while others empower people. For example, if only the smokers group together for the smoke break and this specific group of people are predominantly negative, it could create a microcosm for negativity and complaints. If everyone eats at their desk it could improve productivity, but it also might lead to reduced conversation within the team. If e-mails are used for everything it might lead to distrust between team members (as everything is traceable) or it might lead to increased accountability.

In chess, the queen is the most powerful piece; it can move in any direction for any number of squares. Habits are similar in creating a great culture: it is the action you can take that you can move in any direction at any level of the team you want. You can create personal habits, team habits and cross-silo habits. In many cases habits are already there - it’s a matter of small tweaks to steer the habits into becoming an asset for your team’s culture. Generally, people don’t like major disruption in the "way we do business here" – so start small. Think of everything that forms routine in your business, and think how it might be used to create a positive influence.

Covid-19 has put the spotlight on many teams’ cultures. While existing teams need to start working from home, some habits completely disappeared while others were created. Leaders have seen that the effort in maintaining healthy communication and team-collaboration is much higher than ever before. "Habits" is one of the most powerful tools a leader has in facilitating great culture in the post-Covid era.

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