James Clear's expertise isn't just for individual performance - teams can lift too!
Okay, so it's widely known James Clear's global bestseller "Atomic Habits" is a goldmine of insights for individuals wanting to build or break habits. After all, 15 million people bought the book!
But businesses, especially those looking to drive team productivity and morale, can also greatly benefit from improving the habits of their people.
Fresh from our James Clear events in Australia and New Zealand, when he brought “Atomic Habits” to life on stage, let’s give a taster of how organisations can adapt Clear's ideas to rejuvenate their teams before 2024.
1. The Power of 1%
One of the most iconic tenets of "Atomic Habits" is the 1% principle. Clear argues that improving just 1% every day can lead to significant results over time. Conversely, deteriorating by 1% daily can lead to negative outcomes.
This principle underscores the importance of consistency and persistence. The incremental improvements, though small, compound over time, making the process more important than the end goal.
Business Action: Initiate a program where each department commits to a 1% improvement in a specific area each week. This can be as simple as reducing response times, improving product quality, or increasing client interactions.
2. The Four Laws of Behaviour Change
Clear simplifies the habit-building process into four actionable laws:
· Cue: Make it obvious
· Craving: Make it attractive
· Response: Make it easy
· Reward: Make it satisfying
By focusing on these four aspects, habits can be built or broken. For example, if you want to start running every morning, instead of waiting for motivation lay out your running shoes (cue) the night before, find a beautiful running route (craving), keep your gear ready and minimise barriers (response), and reward yourself with a healthy breakfast after each run (reward).
Business Action: How do the Four Laws of Behaviour Change apply to business? Hold workshops to train managers in the four laws. They can then identify cues, cravings, responses, and rewards relevant to their teams and work on forming habits that boost productivity and job satisfaction.
3. Identity-based Habits
Perhaps the most transformative idea in "Atomic Habits" is the shift from goal-oriented actions to identity-based habits. Rather than saying, "I want to write a book," Clear suggests the reframing of: "I am a writer."
In one of our favourite quotes from Atomic Habits, James Clear says:
"Your habits shape your identity and your identity shapes your habits."
By adopting this mindset, habits become a part of one's identity. This is crucial because when behaviours are tied to identity, they are more likely to stick. It's a profound shift from "doing" to "being."
Business Action: Encourage employees to align their roles with their identities. Instead of "I code," promote the idea of "I'm a software developer." Instead of "I have some leadership responsibilities" switch to "I'm an emerging leader." This shift can boost responsibility and enthusiasm.
4. Habit Stacking
Clear proposes the idea of “habit stacking” by taking advantage of existing habits. For instance, if you have a routine of having coffee every morning, and you want to develop a reading habit, stack it.
You can say, “After I have my morning coffee, I will read for 15 minutes.” This strategy provides a structure that can make it easier for new habits to fit into your life.
Business Action: Identify common routines within teams and introduce habit stacking. For instance, after the daily morning meeting, a team could have a 10-minute brainstorming session, stacking creativity onto an existing habit.
5. The Two-Minute Rule
Procrastination is often the enemy of habit formation. Clear introduces the two-minute rule to combat this. The premise is simple: if a new habit takes less than two minutes, do it now. This helps to overcome the inertia of starting. Over time, these two-minute actions can serve as gateways to more extended and productive activities.
Business Action: For tasks that seem daunting, teams should break them down into two-minute starters. It can be as simple as starting a complex report with just writing the title or introduction.
6. The Environment Matters
"Atomic Habits" places a considerable emphasis on the environment as a determinant of habit formation. If you want to eat healthier, don't rely solely on willpower; remove the junk food from your pantry. By engineering our environments, we can make the cues that trigger bad habits less obvious and the cues for good habits more apparent.
Business Action: Reassess the workspace. Is it conducive to in-office attendance, or focus and collaboration? Maybe introduce plants, declutter desks, add a basket of fruit and snacks, or reorganise the seating arrangement to encourage better communication and a keenness to get back-to-office.
7. Habits and Community
Clear points out that we often adopt habits that are customary in our community. If everyone around you is health-conscious, you're more likely to adopt healthy habits. Surrounding oneself with a community or group that embodies the habits or values you want to adopt can be a game-changer.
Business Action: Create or strengthen team-building activities. Foster an environment where healthy habits, be it in work ethic or personal wellness, are recognized and celebrated.
8. Tracking and Accountability
As James Clear will explain further at his in-person event, he is a firm believer in the power of tracking one's habits. By keeping a log or visual measure, individuals can see their progress, which serves as motivation.
Along with tracking, having someone hold you accountable can be beneficial. This can be a friend, family member, or mentor who checks in on your progress.
Business Action: Implement tools or software that allow teams to track their progress on projects. Also, monthly check-ins where teams share their achievements can help create a culture of accountability.
James Clear's "Atomic Habits" isn't just for personal development; its principles can be a guiding light for businesses to create happy teams and high performance.
By adapting these insights to the corporate world, companies can bring about transformative changes within their teams.
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