Thriving organizations are driven by the power of collaboration, and companies that promote collaborative work are five times as likely to be high performing. Collaboration is just one of the positive team habits that play a significant role in the success of your organization.
While individuals can take charge of creating positive habits for themselves, scaling those habits across teams and organizations can be daunting. So, how can leaders foster better team habits to bring about meaningful organizational change?
In this article, we’re discussing the science behind habit formation, plus a few strategies to help you get your team started with implementing positive habits in their work.
The Science Behind Habit Formation
Our brains view habits, even bad ones, as protective measures for survival that allow us to conserve energy for future use.
If we perform an action for long enough, frequently enough, our brains begin to think that the action must be beneficial in some way (otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it). This pattern creates a subconscious habit around that action — a habit loop — that enables us to preserve energy.
This habit loop makes our habits become second nature, even without conscious thought, as the brain aims for efficiency. While this mechanism can be helpful, it can also make breaking habits within teams much more challenging.
5 Tips for Implementing Habits in the Workplace
Since unfavorable habits are difficult to break, consider implementing new good habits that counteract the bad ones rather than attempting to break your team’s negative habits. For instance, if your team is always late to meetings, establish a habit of reviewing calendars at the start of each day or scheduling recurring meetings at the same time each week.
Regardless of what positive habits you’re implementing in your workplace, here are five tips to help you succeed.
1. Set Clear and Specific Goals
At Arootah, we support our clients by empowering them to get clear on the habits they want to build or eradicate. These habits drive their actions. To make changes across your organization, you must provide your teams with similarly clear expectations around habit-building. Instead of giving vague instructions such as “make a habit to get more organized,” for example, set specific goals for them, such as “complete these specific tasks each Friday.” By providing explicit instructions, you avoid confusion and misinterpretation.
2. Focus on Small, Incremental, Repetitive Changes
It’s unrealistic to expect to change the habits of your entire team in a day, or even a month. Setting small, incremental changes will empower your team to gradually ease into a new way of performing, with the least resistance and greatest chances of success possible. Start slow and remain consistent. For example, at Arootah we encourage our clients to start with some smaller actions for several reasons:
- Changing habits can be difficult and if you start too big, there’s a good chance you’ll give up if the process is too difficult.
- Success breeds confidence — and confidence can be your best friend when you’re working to build or break a habit.
- Momentum matters and there’s no better way to create momentum toward your goals than by starting with easier actions first.
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3. Identify Measures of Accountability
Hold your team accountable for meeting clear and specific goals. This accountability can involve leveraging technology to track habits, using checklists, or enlisting outside help, such as a coach. Encourage your team to not only hold themselves accountable but to hold their peers accountable as well.
4. Evaluate Progress
To ensure that you are on track with your goals and to make necessary modifications to the process, it is crucial that you assess your progress. Consider scheduling routine meetings to review workplace changes, examine why and where failures occurred, and identify potential paths to success. It’s critical that you motivate your team to search for opportunities to grow and improve, rather than allowing excuses to get in the way of your success. Here are some methods of measurement you can use to evaluate your progress:
- Measure progress towards cultivating or eradicating the habit, which informs you whether you’re making progress toward successful completion of the goal.
- Measure progress on action items for team members relevant to the plan, which can help you understand overall progress.
5. Reinforce Commitment Through Recognition and Rewards
Leveraging accountability and monitoring your team members’ progress may not sufficiently motivate them to change their habits, which is why it’s important to offer them other incentives that drive them toward success. You may consider rewards such as sharing successes publically, offering summer Fridays, hosting catered lunches, or even distributing gift cards. You can also ask your team for suggestions on these types of incentives. Use whatever you can to motivate and inspire them to persevere.
The Bottom Line
Team habits are vital to organizational success. By employing strategic approaches to overcome resistance and ingrained habits among team members, leaders can create long-lasting, positive transformations in their organizations.
If you need support in improving your team’s habits or improving your own leadership skills, take our quick assessment to determine strengths and areas for growth.