Today’s unsanctioned behaviour is tomorrow’s standard

Jim Barksdale had had enough. The CEO of Web browser pioneer Netscape was tired of waiting for the company’s night owls to wander in for the regular morning meeting.

Finally, he took action. When the meeting time arrived, Barksdale locked the door, shutting out one of the most notorious repeat offenders.

It might not have been a big deal except for one thing. The man whom Barksdale chose to lock out was none other than Marc Andreessen, one of the company’s founders.

It took guts to do what Barksdale did, but his rash move got results. From that point on Andreessen became one of the most punctual members of the team.

In some respects, Barksdale was lucky. By the time he finally locked the doors, it may have been too late to change Andreessen’s dysfunctional routine. Today’s isolated bad actions have an uncanny knack of turning into tomorrow’s bad habits. Learning isn’t easy, but unlearning is even more difficult. Anyone who’s had a hard time kicking a habit knows this all too well.

That’s why establishing some basic ground rules at the workplace – right from the start – can be so important. It may seem like overkill at first, but when problems arise, you’ll be glad you did.

Get it right the first time. Once you do, you can devote your attention to more important things.