Social rituals for culture change
How are leaders in your organization reinforcing your desired culture?
Most leaders spend more time on their team or company’s products and services than they do to their organizational culture – yet culture drives everything that happens in your team or department, good or bad.
Effective workplace environments – where performance and values are equally measured, monitored, and rewarded – require the leader’s intention and attention, daily.
One effective way to to be intentional about the quality of your team culture is to use social rituals.
Human communities have used social rituals for centuries. Rituals can help embed and reinforce your team or department or company’s purpose, values, and valued behaviors.
However, few leaders leverage workplace rituals as an intentional strategy to define and reinforce a company’s desired culture. Rituals are a proven approach that’s fun, easy, and powerful.
Effective social rituals in the workplace are events which communicate and reinforce desired performance and values. Common rituals in workplaces around the globe include:
- All-company meetings
- Department celebrations
- Voicemails or videos from leaders
- Anniversary/Service award events
- Customer conferences
These events vary in how effective they are at reinforcing your desired culture. Emphasizing just one of these might not have the strongest positive effect! A variety of social rituals will have a more far reaching, deeper affect.
Intentional efforts ensure that all of your workplace rituals create a common bond, inspire commitment and innovation, and build the “finely woven cloth” of a high performing, values-aligned culture. Humans need a source of workplace connectedness or they lose focus and engagement.
Organizations are Human Systems
Your team or department isn’t just the structure, systems, and output. Organizations are made up of humans who perform needed roles to deliver products and services that meet (or exceed) customer’s requirements. Humans – hearts beating, brains pondering, skills being applied – are the core of your business. Just as your automobile needs the engine tuned and oiled, the tires inflated properly, the brakes adjusted regularly, etc., the people in your organization need proactive tending to maintain peak performance and inspired engagement.
Two vital social rituals include communication and celebration.
Communication rituals focus on educating participants about your business strategy, market environments, opportunities, company performance, insights about customers, new solutions in process, celebrating efforts and accomplishments, etc. Powerful communication rituals address these primary outcomes while building human connectedness.
Effective leaders communicate often. An update once a week is the minimum required. Some leaders do a daily huddle – a live, standing five-minute meeting each morning to update team members on successes, opportunities, projects, and such. When team members are geographically dispersed, they do a daily voicemail to everyone.
As noted above, sometimes communication rituals include celebration elements, which is a great thing. Celebration rituals are not exclusively the responsibility of “all company” events – these rituals are very powerfully utilized by leaders of teams, departments, and regions. Celebration rituals include:
- Service Anniversaries
- Project completion
- Small wins (along the path to project completion)
- “Open Forum” lunches that feature Q&A on how things could be done better on the team
These social rituals can not only shift your organization towards your desired culture but they are critical pieces in maintaining your desired culture.
Don’t leave the quality of your workplace environment to chance. Embrace these social rituals to help your people feel valued, connected, and informed about the opportunities ahead.
Repurposed from a December 2010 post on Driving Results Through Culture.