Creating Strong Habits in a Workplace

In his book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” James Clear explains the fundamentals of habits. Watch the video summary HERE.

Habits play a huge part in every aspect of our life. Using some of Clears insights, I want to share how habits can positively and negatively affect our organisations, the people in them, and how to create change.

Clarity Vs Motivation

“Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity…” James Clear

In an organisation, it’s important to identify and provide leaders with ways to increase clarity. This drives performance and improves alignment to ultimately increase the bottom line. One way to increase organisational clarity is to make sure all employees understand the values, mission, vision, strategy and priorities.

Be clear and transparent on where the business wants to be, and how to get there. State when, where, and how you want to implement habits in the organisation to reach the goals. Having a clear plan allows you and others to gain clarity, removing the need to feel motivated to do something.

Compounding Results

Small changes can make remarkable differences in business long term. Imagine you made 10 sales calls every week. On average 2 out of 10 of those calls become a customer. That’s 104 new customers a year.

Now let’s say you increased it to 12 calls a week. This gives you an another 21 customers per year. Over 5 years, those 2 extra calls per week add up to an additional 105 customers.

“It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action. Improving by 1% isn’t particularly notable – sometimes it isn’t even noticeable – but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run.” – From the book: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Studies show that 45% of our daily behaviours are automatic. This means that almost half of our day is spent doing something we aren’t even aware of. Some habits can serve us well, and keep us on the road to improvement. However, it is easy to fall into the trap of bad habits, and it isn’t until later that we see the negative effects of these built up over time. This is especially important in an organisation, as these poor habits can lead to an unhealthy culture.

“Habits are the compound interest of of self improvement – It is only when looking back two, five or ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones become strikingly apparent”– From the book: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Outcomes And Processes

Most goals we set in business are focused around outcomes. We want results – to increase profits, improve retention, reduce costs, increase conversion. Outcomes are good for setting goals, but without habits and systems they won’t be achieved.

Processes on the other hand, are about what you do – creating and implementing systems to reach those goals. Finding new customers, reviewing and reducing overheads, introducing cross selling/up selling. Building and executing systems for these is ultimately going to lead to the desirable outcomes.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” – James Clear

The 4 Laws Of Habits


It’s impossible to begin to change a habit if you are unaware of it. It’s also easier to start a new habit if you have the right environment around you. Have a look at your office environment. Pay attention to the visuals – is it productive or distracting? What stands out?

This is what the people in your organisation (and you) see all day, every day. Our brains are continuously scanning and analysing our surroundings and when we see the same things repeatedly, we will begin to form habits, good or bad.

Make sure the office is set up in a way that people can be productive, this could include:

  • Have the right tools and equipment to perform the jobs efficiently. (Adequate printers/copiers, ergonomic chairs, noise cancelling headphones etc)
  • Ensure the temperature and lighting is comfortable, and there is access to fresh air.
  • Have a decluttered environment – this makes it easier to find what they need and avoids distraction.


Making organisational change is hard, and is often resisted. This is because the opportunities gained from the change aren’t necessarily attractive to people. It’s important to make change attractive – and something they want to do.

Team members have a very strong influence on each other. If you are making a change, it’s important that the team spend time working on it together. This creates the mentality that they are in it together – making it attractive. It is especially vital that your leaders are a part of this, as they have the greatest influence over others.


Habits are formed easiest when there is less effort required, and friction is removed. Many businesses put too much emphasis on the finish line of a big goal. Focus more on the start line, and instead keep the goals small, but consistent. It’s all about repetition.


Implement rewards to change behaviours. Most organisations will jump to bonuses and salary increases, however these are delayed rewards in the future. It’s important to have immediate, small rewards also that will solidify good behaviours and give a feeling of instant success.

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Strategy and Execution Business Advisors and Scaling Up Coaches in Brisbane & Australia
Ted Bonel – Strategy & Execution Advisors

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