Throughout history, and in virtually every society, you will find traditions. Every culture has special traditions that help define who they are, and what they value. Their traditions can be used to celebrate, grieve, worship, and recognize. They surround birth, death, coming of age, and numerous achievements and celebrations. Families have traditions too that are carried on from one generation to the next.
Each organization has its traditions too. But keep in mind that individual departments are the micro units of the bigger organization. You have the opportunity to create traditions for celebration and recognition that help boost morale. Your traditions can be simple little actions that help unite your team, even for a few moments, around what is important.
We have some traditions at the Baird Group to celebrate new employees, birthdays, new business, and other things. I have a handmade bronze hand bell perched on a shelf outside my office. When I ring it, the sound travels down two hallways alerting the team that something good has happened, and it’s time to gather to share the good news and to celebrate, even if for just a moment. Together.
Sure, I could send an email announcing the good news, but it’s not the same as ringing the bell. I can’t imagine my team members talking 20 years from now about an email tradition they had at Baird Group, but they will very likely remember the bell. The tradition is more than just a sound traveling throughout the building – it’s a gesture that signifies that we are a team, we value each other, and we celebrate together face-to-face.
Traditions can be silly or dignified. Think about what is most important to your team, and how you align the work with the values of the organization. Then begin a tradition that helps define and celebrate the values. You’ll be amazed at how even the smallest traditions can help align a team around its goals and accomplishments.