Beyond the workplace it is easy to think of examples where rituals unite, motivate and ready a “team” to excel together. Imagine a sports team repeating a specific chant (with hand motions) before running out onto the field. Picture the cast of a play saying “Break a Leg” as their places are called. Think of a ritual your family has around a favorite holiday.
Rituals also have a place at work, both in small working teams and at the organizational level. In fact, rituals help define our cultures and increase employee engagement.
For this article, a ritual is defined as an action or behavior regularly followed by a group that is designed to increase employee engagement.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways rituals positively impact our work teams:
- Rituals help people to feel more deeply involved in an experience, which in turn heightens its perceived value, according to Heidi Grant, Ph.D. at Neuroleadership Institute.
- People who perform rituals report feeling better, writes Carmen Nobel, Harvard Business School.
- Rituals give us a greater sense of control.
- Rituals help us cope with loss and disappointment.
Consider the following list of examples of workplace rituals to get you thinking about what you might like to implement with your team and/or organization:
Rituals to Celebrate Success:
1. Reward and milestone celebrations
At the end of a project, end of the month, or anytime a major milestone has been completed, celebrate with the team. Pass out gift cards, order pizzas, give out certificates of appreciation, make special t-shirts, create a celebration dance or rap – anything that is celebratory and appreciated by the team.
2. Pass a trophy to the employee of the week (or month)
Each week someone on the team who has gone above and beyond receives the “trophy” for that week. The following week they get to pass the trophy to the next winner. Come up with a unique trophy – something that is special and symbolic for your team. It could be a stuffed animal or a microphone or a toy car.
3. Ring a bell when something is significant is accomplished
When a sale occurs, a deadline is reached, a positive comment about a team member is received, ring a bell so everyone hears. People will want to know why the bell was rung and will all come out of their work spaces to hear the announcement and cheer each other on. This allows you to provide immediate recognition to the deserving party.
Rituals to Build Relationships:
4. Welcome new employees in a special way
On the first day (or week) a new employee begins work, be sure they are assigned a buddy to take them out to lunch, decorate their work space, or hold a special huddle to welcome them first thing in the day.
5. Schedule weekly, monthly or quarterly team events
Plan regular times to get together to talk about the team or just to socialize. This could be over a meal, or might involve doing a fun activity together outside of work, such as an Escape Room or TopGolf. Name this event something fun such as, Wonderful Wednesdays or Fabulous Fridays.
6. Recognize birthdays and anniversaries
Look for a fun way to celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries. Decorate someone’s cubicle or door, give them something funny to wear (a hat, shirt, or necklace that says “It’s my birthday!”), sing them a song, or bring in a cake to share with everyone.
Rituals that Promote Growth:
7. De-personalize failures by discussing lessons learned
At the end of each meeting or project, spend a few minutes discussing what worked well, and what are opportunities to improve. This promotes a ritual of learning and providing positive and constructive feedback to each other.
8. Sponsor monthly or quarterly lunch and learn workshops
Plan regular micro-learning sessions. Ask team members to share their skills and talents, or bring in outside specialists to share topics of interest. Build this around lunch (and provide lunch when possible) to create a fun atmosphere.
I challenge you to talk with your team about the existing rituals you have, and the ones you would like to create. Rituals are more likely to be embraced when the team collectively creates them together.
Please share your team’s rituals in the comment section below.
About the Author:Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field, Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are highly productive and positive. Learn about her Better Teams Model and Team Assessment here.
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