October 19


Why Adapting Your Behavior at Work Pays Off

By Sara Canaday

October 19, 2023

career success, leadership, leadership development, professional development, professional success, self-awareness

We’ve all come across those articles, haven’t we? The ones that promise a complete transformation in just 30 days if we adopt a new routine. Or the five-step guides to breaking some pesky habit.

While there’s a wealth of content discussing “how” to change behaviors, there’s a surprising scarcity of insight into “why” we should make changes—especially when it pertains to the workplace. So that begs the question: Why should we consider refining our behaviors in a professional setting?

Let’s delve into a few reasons why it could be a valuable investment of time to adjust some of your workplace behaviors:

Enhances our ability to engage and influence.

The way we behave significantly affects how we relate to and connect with others. Unfortunately, with the pace of business today, so many professionals are working on auto-pilot, seemingly unaware of how they come across.

Think about the person in your office with a directive, impersonal communication style who is seen as abrupt or uncaring. Or maybe you work with the classic “informer”—someone who just relays directions and assigns tasks without a hint of transparency or sharing the rationale behind decisions. These people are getting their jobs done, but they may not realize the impact they are actually having on others.

If we are deliberate about paying attention to the way we’re perceived by others, we can adapt our behavior to improve our impact. And when we do that, we’ll foster deeper connections and build greater trust with our colleagues and employees.

Helps us stick to our boundaries.

Ever found yourself accepting meeting invitations day after day because you think you can’t decline them? It’s easy to get caught up in feeling guilty about saying “no.” But here’s the thing: Who says we don’t have ANY agency over what gets our time and attention? Instead of feeling trapped, what if we took a moment to assess the real cost of our habitual “yes’”?

Shifting the way we think about our daily commitments can put us back in control. That involves pausing before we agree to every request and reflecting on whether it’s really necessary. When you get into that habit, I bet you’ll discover numerous obligations that don’t truly need your direct involvement or immediate attention. 

Frees us from what may be holding us back.

Many of us have habitual behaviors that hinder our growth. Whether it’s staying silent in meetings due to fear of disrupting the flow or over-perfecting every task at the expense of personal development, these patterns can be like roadblocks for our progress. Once we recognize that tendency, we can make the choice to eliminate certain behaviors and pave the way for personal and professional growth.

Unlocks the hidden key to meeting goals and objectives.

While strategies and tactics lay the groundwork for reaching organizational milestones, they often overlook the behavioral shifts needed to truly drive success. By pinpointing and refining behaviors that are crucial for achieving company objectives, employees can see more compelling reasons for behavior shifts that can amplify their impact.

Now that you’re clued into the transformative power of tweaking behaviors or habits, let’s look at how you can make those pivotal shifts:

1.      Self-Assess: Before you can move forward to make meaningful change, you need to know where you stand right now. Ask yourself:

  • How often am I working on autopilot without regard to how others are experiencing me?
  • Do I struggle to draw the line at work, often feeling like I have no agency over my calendar or to-do list?
  • Am I in a comfort zone that favors old tasks over new challenges?
  • When I consider a new goal, do I work to uncover the individual or collective behavioral shifts needed to make it a reality?

2.      Speak It to Make It Real: Declare your commitment to change. Share your goals with a colleague, your boss, or even your entire team. Seek their feedback, ask for their patience, and maybe even request a nudge if they notice you slipping back into old patterns.

3.      Dive into Action: Choose one behavior to work on. Then seek out chances to make some positive changes—or let that behavior go and embrace a new one. Maybe you pick a weekly meeting where you’ll actively share your thoughts. Or the next time a meeting invitation pops up, you’ll weigh the value of attending against the opportunity to tackle a more pressing issue.

Shifting behaviors might be a challenge, but the rewards in personal growth, team synergy, and overall success are worth every effort. With self-awareness and a proactive mindset, you can unlock new potential and begin to enjoy a more fulfilling experience at work.

Until Next Time,

Sara Canaday

About the author

Sara began her journey working full-time while she earned an MBA. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America, she repeatedly observed a surprising phenomenon: the most successful people weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ or best job skills. She recognized instead that career advancement was much more closely linked with how people applied their knowledge and talents — their capacity to collaborate, communicate, and influence others.

Today, Sara is happily fulfilling that commitment as a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. These venues have given her the opportunity to mentor and support thousands of people in diverse situations, inspiring many of them to move from insight to action with dramatic career results.

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