Creatures of Habit

Jeanette and Rusty left work early to compare notes. Both of them worked for the same director and both of them were unhappy with their performance reviews. Jeanette had tried to discreetly ask her peers about their performance reviews, but Rusty seemed to be the only other manager who was upset.

Over a glass of wine, Jeanette began her rant:

“I think that every year the boss has to have at least two people who receive poor appraisals or he just doesn’t think he is being tough enough. I guess this year it was our turn to be tortured.”

Rusty chugged his beer and agreed with Jeanette:

“I can’t believe he wrote me up for not resolving issues in a timely manner. How am I supposed to know that something that was barely a problem at the start of the year would turn into a show stopper a few months later? Does he think I am a psychic? I bet the other managers get all the easy projects.”

Jeanette then shared this little tidbit with Rusty:

“What do you think of this? He claimed that my team passes on too many errors to our customers and that if I spent less time talking and web surfing I could spend more time showing my team how to perform quality planning and quality checks.”

Jeanette and Rusty were victims, but their persecutor was not their director. They were each responsible for their own bad reviews.

Jeanette has a few habits that are not serving her well. She procrastinates. She delays starting work until it absolutely has to be started. In the meantime, she does spend lots of time making the rounds and visiting co-workers. She is addicted to surfing the web. Jeanette does not just put off doing her own work; she puts off handing out assignments to her team until the very last minute. Then her team members are pressured to make the deadline and the result is hastily prepared items that get passed on to the customer without any formal quality reviews.

Rusty is plagued by a problem of his own making. He ignores things that he does not want to face. So any problem that he does not want to deal with, any person or situation that he deems difficult, he simply ignores them until they go away. Unfortunately for Rusty they don’t always go away.

Jeanette and Rusty were ‘enjoying’ an outcome that was directly related to the nature of their habits. Just like the rest of us, Jeanette and Rusty have acquired habits that they created over the years based on their experiences in life and their belief systems. It really is not a matter of blame. It is about awareness of their habits, understanding what drives them to keep these habits and then the desire to change the habits that do not serve them well.

For example, it may be that Rusty ignores difficult people and situations because he was taught not to be confrontational or not to ‘rock the boat’. There may be other reasons that Rusty has adopted an ‘ignore it and it might go away’ approach to issue management. Only Rusty can determine this for certain. If Rusty wants to change his habit, he needs to change his belief about facing conflict and resolving issues. This will probably be difficult, but it will not be impossible. Rusty needs to adopt the belief that it is better to face a conflict or an issue right away and not let it fester. When he finds himself hesitating in the face of conflict, he needs to remind himself that he believes that is better to face the issue now when it is small and annoying as opposed to later when it is big and ugly.

Eventually Rusty will change his belief and change his habit and change his outcome. Then perhaps next year his performance review will be much better.

Let’s hope the same thing is true for Jeanette too!