How we turned ineffectiveness into effectiveness with Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People training.

Barbra Uittenbosch
Barbra UittenboschProduct ManagerMore about Barbra

For profit-oriented companies, it’s very tempting to mainly focus on production (results). However, we shouldn’t forget that the main driver behind these outcomes are the production capacities like assets, resources and people. Sooner or later, results will be negatively impacted if we don’t pay enough attention or care to these capacities. None of this is rocket science, yet unfortunately, on average, 40% to 60% of employees feel undervalued at work.

At Bannerconnect, we strongly believe in the importance of keeping production and production capacities in balance. More than a year ago we started with Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People training, which in essence teaches you how to be (more) effective and live a (more) satisfactory life. Implementing the 7 Habits at Bannerconnect helps us define and live by a clear purpose in our daily roles as a parent, partner, friend, relative, employee, community member and most importantly ourselves. Let’s take a closer look at how each Habit positively influences our results:

Habit 1: Be Proactive
Being proactive is taking full responsibility for all your results and acknowledging the fact that you have a choice. It starts with your paradigms (how you see the world) which influences how you will behave and which results you will get. To get the results we want, we change our underlying paradigms and shift focus from our circle of concerns (the things we can’t control) to increase our circle of influence; where differences CAN be made.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
What do you hope people will say about you on your last working day or on your 80th birthday? We all fulfill multiple roles within our lives and within each role, our contribution might differ. Knowing our purpose by defining our mission statement, ensures better decision making and more effective results within these roles.

Habit 3: First things First
It’s very easy to be swayed by the issues of the day. Before you know it another week has gone by and on your way home you’re comparing the gazillion things you’ve done with its worth and contribution. Did you dedicate sufficient time to achieve your end in mind(s)? Planning our weekly big rocks is the first step on how we prioritize and focus on what really matters. Sticking to these weekly commitments is the second step, where the growth in effectiveness begins.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Ever heard of the scarcity mindset? It’s the belief in everything being limited: “the more you get, the less there’s left for me”. As a result, all actions deriving from this mentality focuses on getting the biggest piece of the pie. We learned another approach; “enlarge the pie together so there’s more for both of us”. Having the right mindset and a balanced courage/consideration helps us agree on mutually beneficial partnerships. When benefits end up not being mutual, it’s simply a “no deal”. There will be no hard feelings when expectation management is correctly applied.

Habit 5: Seek to Understand before Being Understood
Long-lasting and effective relationships are founded on trust, which can only exist with full mutual understanding. Instead of listening with the intent to reply based on our autobiography (what we’ve been through), we first listen with the sole intent to fully understand. When the time is right, we then respectfully communicate with the sole intent to be fully understood. A traffic light can be used as the analogy: speak when it’s green, prepare to listen when it’s orange and re-understand when it’s red. A new level of understanding arises when you empathically listen.

Habit 6: Create Synergy
Relationships are often based on compromises. If you want A and I want B, let’s meet in the middle by either doing half A + half B or doing A/B now and B/A the next round. Wouldn’t it be better to create a third alternative, option C, which is much better than A and B combined? Synergy can only happen when we value each other’s’ differences and believe there’s something better out there. We acknowledge that the whole is more than the sum of its parts and in a creative way, we achieve our mutual end-in-mind together.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Remember the importance of keeping production and production capacity balanced? How can we be great, if we don’t invest time in our growth? How can we take good care of others, if we don’t take good care of ourselves?  It’s about achieving daily balanced renewals or -private victories in four areas of life; (1) physical, (2) social/emotional, (3) mental and (4) spiritual. Dedicating time to self-preserve is how we can make Habit 1 to 6 happen.

Please keep in mind that people need at least 21 days to break a bad habit (Maltz, 1967). However, a broken habit doesn’t mean it’s never there. In essence, you’re actually forming a new pre-potent response (which can take up to 250 days) and making the old habit less dominant. Although we tend to believe so, there are no quick-fixes to break bad habits nor have they been proven to be effective in the long run. These techniques end up to be not as deep-rooted as we thought, bringing us back to square one when life-changing events or major challenges occur. Successfully making bad habits less dominant and forming effective new ones requires time, willpower and discipline.

If you’re interested in implementing Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People training, remember then that a company’s culture is the culture created by its people. The culture within a company always exist, the main question is: “are you consciously steering it in the right direction?” A decade ago Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Even the best strategies will not lead to change when you don’t pay serious attention to your company’s culture. Create a uniform, company fitting and transparent framework. Make sure there is a certain point of structure, yet be flexible and apply off-course corrections when necessary. Most importantly let leaders lead by example. To create trust and own will with employees you need to consequently show the right example and fairly withhold company unethical behaviors.

Sources:
Maltz, Maxwell. 1976. Psycho-cybernetics: a new way to get more living out of life. N. Hollywood, Calif: Wilshire Book.

Here’s a small fraction of our employees’ feedback after participating the 7-Habits training:

“Before knowing much, I was skeptical of the 7habits being a trick-method to increase efficiency and diminishing fun in my life. However, after experiencing I can tell the fun has increased by providing meaning, stress has been lowered by making the right choices and overall, I get the things done I care about the most.”

 “I thought I had problems with discipline, but Covey taught me that I lacked motivation instead. Just one of the inspiring paradigm-shifts I had!”

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