Departments - Editor’s Insight

August 29, 2019

The saying goes habits can be hard to break. But when does something become a habit? 21 days.

I learned last month that 21 days of something becomes a habit. I don’t know if this was common knowledge, but if it is, I missed it.

Brian Horn, editor, Lawn & Landscape

This nugget of information was disclosed to me in Boston during the Higher Level University, which was hosted by Chenmark Capital Management, a Portland, Maine-based investment firm with a portfolio of landscaping companies.

Higher Level is a National Association of Landscape Professionals peer group facilitated by Bruce Wilson & Co., an industry consulting firm that contributes regularly in Lawn & Landscape.

There was great education at the event, but the 21 days statistic stood out to me the most. A speaker from outside the industry said her company checks up on employees after 21 days. Why? Because after 21 days, you can get a feeling of the good and bad habits they are developing.

Like any good reporter, I went to the Internet to do some research on this factoid. According to some, 21 days is considered a myth created by a now deceased plastic surgeon. I don’t have the space to get into details, but apparently there wasn’t any actual research done to back up this number.

So what does this have to do with your company? I’m sure you have a number of processes you want your team to turn into a habit of carrying out. Sure, three weeks might be suitable for you to get an update on some initiatives, but others will require weekly, even daily meetings.

For instance, you wouldn’t wait 21 days to investigate if a new safety protocol is succeeding.

Do new employees pick up on your desired safety protocols in 21 days? If so, should they be picking them up sooner?

As you look back on the busy spring and summer, think about how uch you monitored changes you wanted to implement in 2019.

Myth or not, there was an important lesson I took away from the 21 days message. The company, which is very successful, picked a number to revisit with new employees, and they have stuck with it. It hasn’t changed and I don’t think it will. It’s worked for them, and even though the habit part may be a myth, it’s a reality at the company.

As you look back on the busy spring and summer, think about how much you monitored changes you wanted to implement in 2019. Did you follow up enough to make sure these became habits? If not, try using the 21-day method moving forward.

It could be a winner for you. – Brian Horn