Retrospectives

How to improve TEAM PRODUCTIVITY with ATOMIC HABITS

There's no question that good team productivity is key to a successful business. But how can you make sure your team is working as efficiently as possible? In this post, you will learn how Atomic Habits increase your team's productivity!
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How can you be more productive as a team?

Hi there, I am Arthur, also known as Agile Arthur and if you're a little bit like me, you're always looking for ways to improve your own and your team's productivity.

Well, then you will like this video because in it you will learn how to get more done with less stress for your team and boost team productivity with the help of Atomic Habits.

And I have also created a Miro template that you can use to start building better habits with your team today.

This is one of the many books that I have read about productivity and which principles I have used to help over one hundred teams to improve their team productivity.

Now, if you're not familiar with the book from James Clear, Atomic Habits are basically these small changes that you make in your life that have a compounding effect over time.

This means you don't have to change everything at once and can start building slowly over time, just focussing on trying to get better one percent every day.

But before we talk about how to apply the principles of Atomic Habits to your team, let's play a little game first to really grasp why it's worth investing in these small changes.

Why is the compound effect important?

Okay, so imagine you have two options. The first option is one cent.

But wait, it's not an ordinary cent, it's a magical one. The power of this cent is that it doubles in value every day, for a month. In other words, when you wake up the next day, you miraculously have two cents; on day three you have four cents; on day four you have eight cents; on day five.. Well you get the point by now right?

How much do you think the magic cent is worth after 31 days?

And that's important because option number two which you can choose is a one-time payment of one million euros.

So which one would you take? The Magic Cent or the one million euros?

Let’s look at how this works out.

After five days the magic cent is only worth 16 cents.

Day 10 it's worth five euros and twelve cents.

Do you want to swap already?

That might seem like a good idea because if we jump to day twenty the magic cent is worth over five thousand euros and you might doubt your decision if you chose the magic cent.

But then the magic happens on day twenty-eight because on this day your magic cent is already worth more than one million euros! (€1.342.177)

And it still keeps doubling for three more days which means that after thirty-one days your magic cent is worth more than ten million euros!

Compounding effect for teams

So how does this compounding effect apply to your team’s productivity?

I think it's safe to say that most of us want to be more productive. You want to get more done in less time, so you feel more ownership over how you spend your day. And wouldn't it also be great if your teammates were more productive too?

But the problem is our habits. Not all habits of course, but the ones that get in the way of actually being productive and those that put your focus on the wrong things. That makes you feel you're too busy doing the thing right, that you don't take time to reflect if you’re actually doing the right things and how you can maybe do them better and faster. You’re focussed on the one million euros instead of the magic cent.

The answer lies in creating atomic habits with your team, and focusing on small changes that will result in a huge compound effect over time.

And the great thing about that is that studies show team productivity increases by 42% when team members are developing their habits together.

Atomic Habits for teams

So how do you build these atomic habits with your team? In Atomic Habits, James Clear teaches us how to build better habits and break our bad ones, so that we can be the best version of ourselves.

Let's talk about five big lessons you can take from to book and how to apply this with your team to start developing better habits together.

1. Small Habits lead to big changes.

This is the compounding effect that we talked about earlier from the Magic Cent example. In the book, James Clear explains that if you focus on becoming one percent every day, then at the end of the year you have improved yourself thirty-seven times.

If you want to do this with your team, you can make use of this Miro template to run a team meeting.

Step one is to write out all the habits that you want to build and break. Step two is to group ideas that are similar, and step 3 is to do a quick voting session, and vote on the one habit that you want to work on together that week.

This is the small habit that you want to change that week.

And the last step is to plan a weekly team meeting, which I will explain in a bit, but first lesson two:

2. Focus on who you want to be, not the outcome

If you know who you want to be, and what you and your team stand for than the outcomes will follow. You can do that by asking your team what are the core values - the most important principles - that they want to share within the team. The whole team should agree on values, so do a voting session, talk about the results and make sure everyone accepts the final set.

These are a number of examples of team values ...

Then, every week in the team meeting gives everyone on the team a chance to report how they're living those values.

3. Focus on Systems (HOW), not on goals (WHAT)

Because lesson three is that you need to focus on systems, and not on goals. The system is how you do it, the goal is what outcome you hope it will give. An example of a system is how you want to improve productivity as a team. Having a dedicated moment to talk about how you work together as a team builds in accountability and an opportunity to focus on one small improvement every week. And if you or your team members are having trouble with a habit, you can brainstorm ideas together on how you can support one another.

So by focussing on the system and how you can improve it, you will make it easier for yourselves to stick to your new habits and benefit from them even years from now.

The same goes here, write down all the systems that you want to build or improve, vote with the whole team, and then focus on one that you want to work on next week.

4. Four Laws of Behaviour Change.

Once you have decided on the habit and system that you want to change, it's time to break down how you can actually build better habits. And that's where the four laws of behavior change come to help.

If you want to break a bad habit, you do the same steps but inverse all the questions.

5. Have Patience.

And the fifth lesson you can take from the book is to HAVE PATIENCE. For your habits to pay off you need to be persistent long enough. Remember that the Magic Cent was only worth more than one million euros after day twenty-eight. Be consistent in your habits and after a while, you will see major improvements.

So you really should celebrate the individual and team wins along the way. Make these weekly team meetings a time to recognize team member successes, and not just talk about development opportunities for next week. Celebrating here and there will help team members get into that habit of recognizing each other's success and that will build team trust and team strength over time.

Productivity = happiness

But most importantly, it will increase the happiness of the team.

And team happiness is probably a lot of what team productivity is about. If your team isn't getting along well, you can maybe deliver results but it's not going to feel like you're making much progress.

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