What Are Rockefeller Habits and How Businesses Can Implement Them

The “Rockefeller Habits” are among the most regarded business strategy frameworks that have been practiced by numerous executives and entrepreneurs for the last 2 decades to make their businesses flourish.

After reading the biography, "Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.," Verne Harnish, a business coach and the author of "Scaling Up," became inspired to organize his teachings in a series of 10 routines.

According to Harnish, Rockefeller, the richest man in American history, actively practiced these 10 habits which contributed to the growth of his influence and business. 

By implementing this framework, every manager, executive, and entrepreneur can witness important benefits such as:

  • Better time management
  • Harmony in teams
  • Improved internal communication
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Faster execution of strategies
  • Increased goal completion rate
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Overall growth of the company

Why Routine Matters for Your Business

Adhering to routines helps businesses grow rapidly. By reaching milestones faster and getting more things done than your competitors, you pave the way for your organization's growth. On the other hand, the absence of routines results in overworked employees and unachieved targets.

Following the 10 habits below will ensure your entire team sticks to the right path and achieves those Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs).

Although the habits seem to be basic and straightforward, it’s important that businesses use them to increase their productivity and growth opportunities. The following habits are just a few examples of how to help your business meet strategic goals:

  • Better time management leads to better organization which translates into increased task completion rate. This will eventually lead to faster execution of strategies
  • Increased customer satisfaction will increase business and revenue
  • Employees with higher engagement are more likely to stay at the company for a longer period of time, which in turn increases their productivity

Who Should Use This Habits Checklist?

The successful implementation of the Rockefeller Habits depends on the cooperation of the entire organization, but it’s the leadership team who communicates and brings this new method of operation into effect.

The framework is designed with the most influential members of a company in mind (e.g., the CEO, senior executives, presidents, vice presidents, and board of directors).

It’s important to mention that the first and most important Rockefeller Habit is concerned with the alignment of executives. The other habits can be implemented in any order.

The habits are further broken down into simple actionable steps in this checklist. You can refer to it and share it with your employees and team members during implementation.  

10 Rockefeller Habits and How To Implement Them in Your Company Strategy

Habit #1: The Executive Team Is Healthy and Aligned

Harnish calls this the most important habit as the rest can be tackled in any order. 

According to The State Of Leadership Development’s survey, "only 29% of employees say their leader’s vision for the future always seems to be aligned with the organization's."

If a leader feels that they don't believe in the company values, they should candidly express their concerns. Harnish suggests a weekly executive meeting for strategic thinking and resolving cultural, operational, and behavioral issues. 

To improve bonding, executives should learn about each other's differences, styles, and priorities. Participating in monthly executive education is also recommended. 

Implementation

It's a given that aligning the executive team will not mean the same thing for every organization, but you can start with this executive alignment framework to address the misalignment issue. 

Ask the right questions to measure alignment and then take steps to eliminate the misalignment. 

Habit #2: Everyone Is Aligned With the #1 Thing That Needs To Be Accomplished This Quarter To Move the Company Forward

Consult with your team and come up with the #1 goal that's crucial to the growth of your business. Achieve it as quickly as possible and move on to the next. Contradictorily, when Gallup reviewed data from 2.2 million employees, they found out that only half of the employees knew what was expected of them.

The very 1st goal can be a critical figure. For example, suppose that you can generate additional revenue of $1 million next quarter through the introduction of a new service

The next step should be to identify the top 3-5 activities that will contribute to achieving this goal. Also, announce a quarterly theme and plan to reward those performers who bring these goals to life. 

Implementation

To align everyone with the #1 goal, keep everyone in your organization up-to-date through quarterly presentations and weekly team meetings. The quarterly theme will further enforce the cause. 

A collaboration tool like Breakthrough can help you communicate goals and get feedback in real-time. 

Habit #3: Communication Rhythm Is Established and Information Moves Through the Organization Accurately and Quickly

This habit facilitates the smooth working of Habit #2. It's designed to fix communication problems between teams at various levels of the hierarchical chain. 

When done intentionally, meetings save everyone's time, make communication smooth, and help everyone understand their priorities for the day, week, and month.

Implementation

To ingrain this habit, hold:

Habit #4: Every Facet of the Organization Has a Person Assigned With Accountability for Ensuring Priorities and that Company Goals Are Met

To make sure every department is staying true to its priorities, appoint a key person responsible for each part of your business. 

Verne argues that if more than one person is accountable, no one is accountable. Similarly, when senior leaders stop holding people accountable, things crumble. According to a TalentQ report, 2 out of 3 managers are seen as not holding people accountable. 

Implementation

To ensure the right people are accountable:

  • Use a Functional Accountability Chart. It groups people according to the specific function they perform; one person is assigned as the leader. 
  • Fill out the Process Accountability Chart. Identify 4-9 key processes and make one person responsible for each of them. 
  • Make sure that each of your key 3 to 5-year measurable sub-goals support your market positioning and have a corresponding expert on the advisory board.

Habit #5: Ongoing Employee Input Is Collected to Identify Obstacles and Opportunities

All executives and managers should aim to have a start/stop/continue conversation with one employee every week.

This practice will provide executives and managers with crucial data from frontline workers. 

The objective of each meeting will also be to collect feedback on what’s going right and what’s going wrong for employees. According to a Gallup survey, "only 32% of employees feel actively engaged at work." It's evident that employees feel a need to be heard.

Once the data is gathered, the mid-management team should close the loop by providing guidance and solutions to the lower-level employees. 

Implementation

Prepare before the meeting to set a clear agenda. This will save you and your employee time. The right approach will help you get all the crucial data and also establish a human connection.

Habit #6: Reporting and Analyses of Customer Feedback Data is as Frequent and Accurate as Financial Data

The second most important source of data after employees is your customers. 

Thus, companies should make a routine habit of speaking with their customers to gather market and competitor insights. 

As a rule, executives should talk to at least one customer weekly, which yields more data than customer surveys. 

To get the maximum benefit, executives and mid-managers should have a weekly 4Q conversation with a consumer. The gathered insights should be shared with other executives in weekly meetings.

Implementation

Executives and managers should take some time to gather insight from customers. The insights can prove pivotal for goal-setting. 

Here's a guide on how to conduct meaningful customer interviews.

Habit #7: Core Values and Purpose Are “Alive” in the Organization

A company’s core values influence the day-to-day operations of the organization. All the major and minor tasks should align with the core values and purposes.

The employees should be rewarded or reprimanded according to their ability to act according to the company culture. 

Also, hiring and firing should be done with the core values in mind. 

Adhering to a systematic approach will build trust among your employees and improve customer service, benefiting your organization in the long run. 

In too many companies, the reality is different. For example, "only 41% of employees strongly agree with what their brand stands for.”

Implementation

This habit is realized through periodically "reminding" employees about the company’s core values and business principles through communication and experiencing them yourself. 

Also, don't create confusion by creating conflicting values. For example, the chefs of a restaurant might get torn between two decisions if the restaurant has conflicting values like "experimentalism" vs. "traditionalism" when it comes to preparing a recipe. 

You can use communication channels and conduct meetings to communicate your values and goals with your employees and collect feedback to measure employee alignment

Habit #8: Employees Can Articulate the Key Components of the Company’s Strategy Accurately

This habit has to do with how well your employees are aligned with your organization's strategy

Ideally, your employees should be able to instantly describe:

  • 3-5 priorities and brand promises
  • Profile the core customer in less than 25 words
  • The BHAGs of your organization
  • The company’s elevator pitch 

This habit will benefit your organization by eliminating confusion about priorities and help employees do things faster.

Implementation

A simple way to make sure everyone is aware of your branding is to make such information readily available. A tool like Breakthrough can accomplish this task easily. 

Posters can be used to display brand promises, the mission and vision, and the elevator pitch. Daily huddles can be used to occasionally remind employees of the company’s core customers and BHAGs. 

Habit #9: All Employees Can Answer Quantitatively Whether They Had a Good Day or Week

It's the job of every person working at an organization to hold themselves accountable. And asking them "whether they had a good day or week" based on a key performance indicator (KPI) is a good reality check. 

Not getting enough guidance from managers can leave employees questioning their performance. According to Gallup, "only 32% of employees agreed that their managers help them with goal-setting."

Implementation

To have a quantitative answer about daily/weekly performance:

  • Each employee should identify 1-2 KPIs and report on them in a weekly meeting
  • Assign each employee with one critical number that contributes to the organization's critical number
  • Assign each employee/team with 3-5 quarterly KPIs that align with those of your organization

Habit #10: The Company’s Plans and Performance Are Visible to Everyone

A scoreboard or accountability program keeps everyone on their toes. 

Making plans, performance and constructive criticism transparent will help employees gauge their performance and adjust accordingly on a daily basis. 

The practice also involves sharing the company’s values, purpose, brand promise, and KPIs, as well as cascading priority items to keep employees well-informed. 

Implementation

Both business leaders and employees should be aware of their scores. You can do this in a variety of ways. Also, communicate scores on a weekly basis or in monthly and quarterly meetings. 

Team leaders in the head office can hold members accountable for their performance and give details about performance and the core processes as necessary. 

Breakthrough: One of the Best Platforms to Help Your Business Grow

Business coaches and businesses swear by the advantages and effectiveness of these 10 Rockefeller habits. And the habits are simple enough to be implemented by businesses of any size. 

Sharing the company vision, mission, brand promise, annual goals, and customer profile will give a huge boost to strategic planning and the successful implementation of these habits.

A tool like Breakthrough makes collaboration on the strategic plan much easier compared to traditional methods and planning. It has tools that streamline the process of working with your team and foster relationships and communication. 

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