For new clients getting started with Rhythm, one of the most difficult things to master is establishing new habits for execution and accountability. Learning our methodology and how to use the software is not difficult; the hard part is integrating a new set of habits into your weekly and daily life. The clients who are ultimately successful are the ones who do just that - build a rhythm of accountability and habits of preparing and participating effectively in the Think, Plan, Do process. Our expert coaching team can spend extra hours on the phone and share our best stuff with clients, and our R&D team can put out fabulous new software features, but if our clients don’t integrate some basic habits, then they will not be successful using Rhythm.
So, how do you build new habits for success for yourself and for your company? In Charles Duhigg’s book Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, he outlines some simple facts about how our brains work to build habits. To build a habit, first find a simple and obvious cue, and then, clearly define the rewards of the new behavior you want to develop. The best way to establish a new habit is to change an existing one. For example, if you notice that everyday when your 2:00 pm meeting ends, you automatically head to the vending machine for M&Ms. Consider what drives this craving. Is it low blood sugar, stretching your legs by walking down the hall, or the casual social interaction with colleagues who are also heading to the vending machine? If the reward for you is the snack, then pack a piece of fruit. If it is the exercise or the social aspect, then go for a walk around the building with a colleague instead. Engaging someone else (or a group) to help you with the new habit is key; Duhigg explains that finding a group to help you believe that change is possible and to keep you accountable to the new habit you want to establish exponentially increases the likelihood of your success.
One of the critical habits for implementing Rhythm is effective preparation for weekly adjustment meetings that enables the team to maximize their time together to solve problems. Effective preparation involves setting aside time the day before the meeting to gather the needed data and insights to update the status of each KPI and priority and to think through and record comments with action plans for anything that is not on track. Also, completing the Week In Sync note allows you to prioritize your week ahead and identify the most important thing to accomplish for a successful week. Finally, effective preparation involves reading the comments from your team prior to the meeting and thinking about how you might be able to help them with areas where they are stuck.
When helping your team to establish a new habit of preparing effectively for weekly adjustment meetings, you will be most successful if you can do these two things:
1. Set up cues in the environment to trigger the desire to prepare for the meeting. Maybe you send a calendar invitation to your team the afternoon before the meeting as a reminder to set aside time to prepare. Maybe you post a reminder in the break room or put sticky notes on people’s desks.
2. Clearly communicate the reward of preparing effectively. If the team can see the benefit of preparation, they will be more inclined to build the habit. Eventually, the return on preparation will show itself in your ability to make adjustments to achieve your strategic goals, but our brains are typically not as motivated by rewards that aren’t immediate. Maybe you reward those who do prepare effectively with praise or donuts in the meeting.
As you establish the new habit, your team members can rely on one another to remind and encourage each other, and your Rhythm coach is your accountability partner to help you stay on track. Duhigg talks about “keystone habits” as ones that impact other good habits. For example, studies have shown that people who make their beds every morning are more productive throughout the day and better at sticking to budgets than those who do not – while making the bed does not cause these other traits, it seems that making this shift starts a chain reaction that helps establish other good habits.
I believe that establishing a rhythm of preparing for your weekly meetings effectively is a keystone habit that will start a chain reaction that can change everything over time. Think of what your company could do if every time your executive team and each of your departments sits down for a meeting you are all focused on solving the most important problems facing the team. You would be unstoppable!