Investing in Performance Habits For A Higher Return on Payroll

By Patrick Thean

Return on payroll

At Rhythm, our secret to successful implementation is helping companies implement performance habits. With good performance habits, people provide more value to themselves, their teammates, and their company.


Unfortunately, implementing new habits requires change management. Most people do not realize how crucial change management is when it comes to bringing in new processes and habits. This is why most implementations fail.

Our Rhythm System provides significantly greater value to a company as more teams use the system, receive value, and evangelize other teams. As part of our implementation and change management, we have scripted a journey that takes users through different stages of increasing value. I refer to these as our Five Levels of Mastery:

  • Level One: I do because my boss told me to
  • Level Two: I do because I get value
  • Level Three: I do because my team gets value
  • Level Four: I do because the teams we work with get value
  • Level Five: Mastery: We all do, resulting in the company seeing high performance and cross-functional success

A long time ago at my first job at Oracle Corporation, I learned the importance of giving value to users and customers. That’s why we have created a value journey that moves through different stages. As people receive more value, they are more likely to take the next step and accept the changes that come with that next step. Hence the term change management. You’re not going to be able to go from Level One to Level Five overnight!

Focus First on Level Two: I Do Because I Get Value

When you implement a new system, everyone starts at Level One: “I do because my boss told me to.” Rhythm is successful in our implementations because our teams are extremely focused on making sure everyone receives personal value. We work to move people from Level One to Level Two as soon as possible. We want them to graduate from “I do because my boss told me to” to “I do because I get value.” 

Trained in our methodology and software, a new Rhythm user will start reflecting on their priorities and commitments. By habitually reviewing their goals every week, they will realize earlier on in the quarter–perhaps in Week Two or Week Three–that they’re going to have trouble hitting a commitment. Before Rhythm, they may have only realized this in Week Five (the turn of the month) or when someone asked them for a status update. Since they now recognize trouble earlier, they are able to figure out their problem and achieve their commitment. 

With a little awareness, users will realize that they are receiving value through an early warning process that encourages them to notice issues earlier. And by taking action earlier, they have increased their own probability of success. If they appreciate this point of value, they can find joy in knowing that their success rate has improved. They have just received personal value! They have just made it to Level Two!

If we can get someone to go from Level One to Level Two, the journey has begun towards change. They have been rewarded for the efforts they took. Change is now valuable and perhaps more fun and rewarding. Since they have begun to receive value, they can enjoy the journey for themselves–not for someone else. 

Sharing the Value

A Rhythm user who regularly does their status updates and makes comments will begin to have a strong collaboration with other members of their team. Users may begin to realize that collaboration with other team members actually accelerates the achievement of their own goals as well. When that happens, the user experiences value that goes beyond themself. Value has overflowed to their teammates! They are now at Level Three! 

A major challenge that growing companies face is the unintentional development of silos. As new teams and departments sprout up and people try to get more focused and “stay in their lanes” in the name of efficient execution, teams become misaligned with each other, survival instincts kick in, and walls come up. Bam! You suddenly have silos. Rhythm was developed with cross-collaboration in mind, as the most important priorities tend to be company-wide and require the skills and expertise of multiple teams and departments. 

Level 4 is reached when teams use Rhythm to share, collaborate, and plan across department lines, thereby combining their execution skills to achieve mutual success. If Rhythm is a lightsaber, then using it to collaborate across departments makes you a Jedi knight who breaks down silo walls. Recently, a client CEO described how it feels to work at Level 4 today: “We enjoy working with other teams, and work seems fun and gets done faster and done right.” Value is now being felt across all teams.

This success creates a pull effect. Teams who are not using the system now want in. Finally, when the whole company is using the system effectively, we have an operating system and a single language that unites the whole company. It feels magical–because it is. Very few companies achieve Level 5 mastery of execution. Those who do achieve it find that their execution truly gives them an unbeatable advantage in their industry. 

Success is not built overnight. Rather, success is built through developing the right habits that give tangible value. One-click at a time, you turn your change management flywheel and gain momentum.

return on payroll

Invest in Habits to Get a Higher Return on Payroll

The implementation process should take a few quarters. It’s about people adopting the right habits that lead to high performance and high team health. Habits always take time to develop, because we must follow a change management process. We must help our customers adopt the right performance habits to get them to execution mastery.

When people talk about Return on Investment (R.O.I.), think about Return on Payroll (R.O.P.). Every month, you write payroll checks. That amount is committed. The only way to get a better R.O.P. is for your people to be more productive and higher performing. This is why developing high-performance habits in your teams is so important. When your team starts delivering more value, it will show up on your bottom line. 

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Return on Payroll

Invest in Coaching to Accelerate Change

If you work with us to implement software, then you already have missed the point. Don’t work with us to install and implement software. Invite us to help you accelerate your business value. We want to accelerate your value and deliver complementary results, first for each individual user, then for their teams, then for the whole company. That’s how true and sustainable improvement in performance happens.

 –Patrick Thean


Other blogs I've written:

Harvard Business Review Article: How to Give (and Receive) Critical Feedback

“Our Silver Bullet”: How Arbill Protects Lives

Four Ways to Love People and Win Their Hearts and Minds

Learn more about the Rythm System

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

Patrick Thean is an international speaker, best-selling Author, and serial entrepreneur and is currently the CEO and co-founder of Rhythm Systems. Visit to learn more. 

Patrick Thean


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images