Three generations have been forever changed because of my dad’s childhood at the orphanage and because of this we’re a family obsessed with peanut butter.
I picture my dad, about the age of 10, looking skyward and making a promise that he will one day eat as much peanut butter as he desires. This likely came about on a Sunday when the nun dispersed the weekly tablespoon of peanut butter.
Jump ahead twenty years and you would see my father teaching his children that one can never have enough peanut butter while he slathers it on his peanut butter cookie or offers it to us at the dinner table.
This tradition has carried through to our adulthood and into the next generation and is now being introduced to a third generation.
Traditions arise for many reasons, but what they ultimately can bring to relationships, whether family or workplace, is the ability to bond. To build better relationships. To create an atmosphere of fun. To create common values. To bring about trust within the group.
If nurtured and done in just-the-right-way, traditions can change the face of an organization, increase retention and productivity, and even increase happiness amongst the group.
Let me ask you.
How often do you get together with your workplace team or department? If less than bi-monthly, shame on you! That means you are leaving to chance the organizational values and mission. It’s likely team spirit has fizzled, and people are not feeling connected with each other nor the organization.
Fostering connection amongst employees is one of THE biggest oversights of an organization. When employees have better social bonds at work their focus, passion and loyalty can increase along with a decrease of sick time.
Here’s what you can do. Create a tradition. Traditions give purpose and can bring people together.
- Celebrate successes, e.g., on Taco Tuesday’s. And make sure each person knows the impact of their contribution.
- Celebrate mistakes. Keeps employees from fearing retribution and, instead, allows them to unleash their individual brilliance (The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman, PhD).
- Volunteer together. Empower staff to determine with whom.
- Gather in communal workspace on a regular basis. Call people together to share news, check-in, create an attitude pick-me-up by asking the team, “what’s going well?”
- “It doesn’t really matter what your values are. Get them and align the organization around them.” (Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos) Revisit at a yearly retreat.
- Onboarding new employees with some pizzaz! Create a welcome that will blow their socks off. Trust me, it doesn’t take much. Most companies fall way short on this one.
- Dump the boring meetings. Stop talking AT the staff and get the team engaged and participating.
My suggestion? Stop holding back! Engage your team to help create new customs and ways of doing things. Over time, those customs will become traditions that just may give your team its edge.
Tonight when asked, “what’s for dinner?” I wonder if your response will be … “peanut butter.”