Thirty years ago, I joined a staffing and recruiting firm as marketing director and began working my way up the ranks. I eventually became a partner in the organization.

In 2005, I learned about the Rockefeller Habits and began practicing them in both my personal and professional lives. For the uninitiated, the habits were developed by Verne Harnish based on the business practices and principles of John D. Rockefeller, the renowned business magnate who founded Standard Oil. Simply put, the Rockefeller Habits involve planning and setting goals, and then executing small, achievable tasks to reach those goals in a given amount of time.

When I realized how helpful the habits were in setting and achieving my personal goals, I was eager to share them with the rest of the team. I knew our company had some bad habits and we could all use a shot in the arm to create greater alignment internally and set the organization on a path toward growth.

By 2015, however, we had drifted away from the habits. That is when I decided to find a business coach who could work with us to reimplement the habits and hold us accountable. In 2017, we began working with Andy Bailey of Petra Coach.

Some members of the team — especially those who were newer to the company — were unsure about the prospect of change, specifically with regard to revamping our established culture and communication processes. However, after our initial coaching session, something clicked in the team and the methodology began to stick. As a result of our work over the next year, we saw our employee Net Promoter Score (NPS) increase from 15 to 54 and our customer NPS increase from 13 to 51. We also saw our bottom line improve by 300 percent. All of these improvements were attributable to the goals we set and the changes we made through implementation of the Rockefeller Habits.

Here are four lessons we learned along the way that can help you implement the Rockefeller Habits in your own company and take your business to the next level:

1. Core Values Set the Course

A core purpose is a mission statement that tells your customers why you do what you do. You core values outline the ways in which your organization lives out its core purpose, and they are key to communicating the mission of the company. Reinvigorating our core values gave the team a whole new focus and drive. With the coach’s help, our team rewrote our core values to give them new meaning. We came up with:

  1. Do the Right Thing: Be honest, ethical, and genuine in the work that we do.
  2. Value the Individual: Promote the freedom to grow personally, the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, the freedom to work hard, and the freedom to be yourself.
  3. An Attitude That Works: Have a positive attitude, which is the most important part of workplace success, and view challenges and obstacles as opportunities to learn something new.
  4. Healthy as a Whole: Dedicate ourselves to the safety, health, and financial success of each client, employee, field associate, and the company as a whole.
  5. Red Hot Chili Pepper Urgency: Act with hustle and responsiveness both internally and externally to get things done accurately, and work to meet all deadlines in a timely manner.

Now, we practice these values every single day. We celebrate team members who exemplify our values through a hall-of-fame employee-recognition program, thank-you notes, and weekly announcement videos that highlight successes.

2. Make Goals and Wins Visual

We use an online platform to track priorities and goals for both individuals and the company as a whole. This helps the whole team stay aligned, and it gives each of us an understanding of what our fellow team members are working on so we can keep each other accountable.

The platform also helps the team stay focused on our company’s larger goals. It prevents us from getting bogged down in our day-to-day work and encourages us to look at the bigger picture: How is our daily work affecting the company and our clients overall? By entering our goals and our clear steps to achieve them into the platform, we can track both our progress and our results. The team is more engaged than ever before, and the company’s recent successes reflect that engagement.

3. Focus on the Right Things

The “right things” will likely be slightly different for every organization, but one that is common across companies is people. The team’s personal and professional well-being should be the top priority for your company, which is why we made it one of our core values. Along with recognizing our team’s hard work and success, we have implemented company social events like bowling parties and comedy shows to keep employees satisfied and morale high.

Our community’s well-being is also critical to our success, so we have implemented philanthropic projects that involve our team members in meaningful activities outside of the daily work routine. We strive to build and maintain a culture that is attractive, exciting, and fulfilling to those who already work with us and those we hope will join us.

More and more people are looking for jobs that allow them to make both a social and a business impact in their communities. For this reason, it is critical for a company to have both a social strategy and an acquisition strategy. This is especially true for recruiting and staffing firms: If you don’t have a solid strategy for recruiting and retaining internally, you can’t expect to recruit and retain the best candidates for your clients.

4. Get Everyone Involved in Change

For a change initiative to succeed, everyone must get involved. Furthermore, a key part of the habits is making sure company leadership and the broader team are aligned with one another.

It was a challenge to get buy-in from the entire team, but bringing in a third party tremendously helped get the process started. Our leadership was encouraged to be more candid with the rest of the team; once the team was able to understand and embrace the company’s mission, they felt more committed to the organization’s overall success.

In the staffing industry, you must set your company goals and align your own team behind them before you can help build your clients’ teams. Take the time to invest in the growth of your team, open up communication, focus on your company culture, and set goals and execute them as a team. There is no substitute for doing the work, and once you do, you will have fulfilled team members and the kind of company growth you could only dream of in the past. Are you ready for the challenge?

Mark Lancaster is the president and CEO of EG Workforce Solutions, a Michigan-based staffing and recruitment firm.

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