Developmental Tasks

Once there comes the day when you realize that you want to get rid of a habit that hampers your work progress.

For example, my friend Igor, who works as a creative manager, is constantly making spiteful remarks at meetings with his colleagues, and they don’t approve of his sarcasm. He wants to change his behaviour, but this model is so much a part of his personality that he won’t be able to get over it by only following a new direction of his thoughts. So, it’s high time to call his colleagues into service and work out a Developmental Task!

How can I create this developmental task?’ — Igor asked.

Step zero: realize your desire to change yourself

When — only when — Igor feels a desire/intends to correct his behaviour in some way, it is allowed to work out a Developmental task. It is a crucial condition for all the next steps.

Step one: identify the habit

Igor needs to tell his colleagues whom he trusts which habit he wants to root out/bring in and why. He should also ask them to help him do it.

Cool! They will have a wonderful reason for mocking at me. Won’t they chew me out in front of everybody if they notice this habit? I won’t stand this humiliation!” — worries Igor.

This is a very important remark for the next step!

Step two: entrap the habit

At first, it is important to have a conversation with your team and say that the Developmental task in aimed at mutual support and progress, not at finding fault with somebody. It will help to avoid mockery, which is Igor’s concern.

It is important to agree in advance about some signal! It is necessary for the colleagues to indicate Igor’s old habit display when they see it. The ideal signal would be the one that makes everybody laugh, and it is not offensive or abusive.

For example, the colleagues may clamp their noses with their fingers and stare at him when they see that he is being sarcastic or is making some spiteful remarks. In this way, they will show him that his habit has manifested itself.

Well done! And what should I do if I have given way to my habit, and the colleagues have spotted it?” — worries Igor.

Step three: punishment

It is important for Igor to make a small “punishment” for himself when he or his colleagues have spotted the display of his unwilling habit. It will help him to reinforce the desire NOT to do it. The punishment itself should be easy to fulfil, but Igor should really not want to do it in front of the others all the time.

For example, when he is spotted having made some spiteful remarks or having been sarcastic, he should jump on one foot 10 times wherever he is. Once he jumps like that at a meeting with the superiors, he would not be willing to jeer for a long time.

Woah! It’s harsh, but interesting. But if there is punishment, there must be praise?” — Igor is puzzled.

Step four: reward for restraining

A reward for making effort is very important in order to reinforce the new habit. To receive it, Igor should agree with his colleagues to show them a signal when he has contained his desire to jeer or make sarcastic remarks. And his colleagues should do something rewarding in return.

For example, Igor can agree to make one clap when he restrains from sarcasm. In reply, his colleagues can show thumb up.

In a couple of weeks, you can discuss with your colleagues the progress in fulfilling the Developmental task; it may be necessary to coordinate the signals and give clean feedback to one another. Some of the colleagues might want to take on a Developmental task to root out some harmful habit or bring in a useful one!

Important! You may not only make a Developmental task for elimination some unwilling habits, but also for implementing new ones. The steps are all the same, but you should realize which old habit would be substituted by the new one. Your new habit will be the developing action in the fourth step.

If you have any questions or you need help in working out Developmental tasks, be as brave as to write to

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