Friday Business Mentoring Tip – Create rituals

February 16, 2012Post by Laura Humphreys

FINALLY back from my holidays… 6 weeks in total… where on earth did February go???  So back to posting business tips for all of you who appreciate a daily morsel of practical business advice.   This one is a goodie and absolutely crucial if you have a team of people around you.

Rituals are the glue that holds the culture of an organisation together.  They are the things that you do together as a team on a regular basis.  The rituals of your company become the elements that give your team a sense of certainty and define how you all work together.  A good team will work together, laugh together, be serious together and have a lot of fun together.  Your rituals can create the environment for them to do this.  So what do I mean by rituals?  Let me give you some examples.

At my advertising agency we had a number of rituals, some came in the form of regular meetings.  We always met on a Monday morning for Work In Progress.  Fresh muffins were put out for everyone to share. Every person in the agency except the receptionist was required to attend this meeting as we went the progress of every job in the system.  At the beginning of this meeting we would do WIFLS… What I Feel Like Saying.  Each person in turn says how they are feeling about the week ahead.  They are allowed a maximum of 2 minutes and no-one is allowed to interupt.  The purpose of this exercise is twofold:  Firstly to allow an individual to let the team know what headspace they are in and secondly to get the person themselves ‘present’ and focused in the room.  So if someone says “My dog died on the weekend and I’m feeling very sad”, everyone knows to treat the person with some compassion, maybe take things a bit easy with them.  If someone says “I’m on fire, ready to go, going to bust through all my goals this week’, you can expect to have a high energy week from them and they will in turn expect to live up to their own promise.   I learned about WIFLS when I studied with Robert Kiyosaki years ago and have done them with every team I’ve had… it may sound a bit flakey but believe me, it really works.

Another ritual we had at Red Rocks was to have a morning tea for everyone on their birthday.  We always got a big cake and candles and made a fuss of the person.  A small thing, but again… part of who we were as a company, showing we cared about our people.  We also gave people a day off the week of their birthday as our company gift to them.

We always stopped work at 5pm on a Friday and gathered around the meeting area for drinks and a celebration of ‘wins’ for the week.  My senior people were encouraged to lead a discussion about what achievements we’d had during the week and to be sure to acknowledge any team member who’d done something noteworthy that week.  The purpose behind this ritual was to leave the week on a positive note and to make sure we had a culture of encouragement and celebration.

Another ritual was getting all new people to do a piece of artwork in their first 2 months with us.  All the staff artwork was framed and put on a wall in one of the meeting rooms.  The subject was always “your view of Red Rocks” and in most cases the art was pretty abstract… there was no pressure for anyone to feel like an artist.  We have them materials to help them.  When a person left the company, we presented them with their artwork as well as a card made by our creative department (which were usually very funny).

As you can see, some thought was put into creating a sense of belonging within the company.  Rituals do this within any group environment.  Think of your own family and how kids get their sense of belonging through the regular things you all do together.  Kids love structure and rituals, and so do staff.

Have a think about your team.  How bonded are they? What rituals could you put in place to encourage a sense of belonging?