No matter who you are or where you come from, we all have traditions that we know and recognize. Some are fun and some we do because we honor our families. When you are growing up you might look for certain traditions at specific times of the year and then when you are older…well those traditions may be memories of the past.
What happens when we find our partners and form a new family…and your traditions aren’t the same? Do you share your traditions with each other and then decide which ones you keep and which ones become memories? The truth is that traditions connect people and it makes the relationship a sweeter one. Imagine sharing a tradition along with the stories that go along with it. Here’s an example…
My husband and I are of two different religions. We have the same values and see things in the same way, but our religious beliefs are different. When we got married, we combined two families and shared traditions of each to make it even a more special evening. We now have two times the holidays and celebrations and of course our kids and grandkids are excited with two times the presents. We share the foods we grew up with and it’s interesting to see who tastes some unusual dishes and how his family will eat some of my traditional foods that even my family doesn’t enjoy. We share the stories of how and why we do what we do and it’s always fun when one of our kids will be the one to share the stores and recipes.
So what does this have to do with business and can we really incorporate traditions? What is a tradition anyway? The definition of tradition is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past. What if you created a culture that had its own unique traditions that would encourage others to participate and invite others to join? For women, when we are looking for a position in a company, we are also looking for a home. A place that complements our real home that is inviting and safe and a place to grow. We want to belong and traditions can do just that.
Creating traditions in that environment can help to recruit talent as well as retain it and they don’t have to be religious or expensive. They can be about the culture of your business. Maybe it’s how you reward your people for a great job or celebrate their success or even help them to be better.
When I was an Agency Manager in Insurance, one of the traditions I started was a pizza night. Every other Wednesday, I brought in pizza and we all sat around the conference table and talked about our week and any challenges that we had. We talked about our triumphs and we all celebrated them. And almost every time we were together, one of the agents that was having a great week would talk about what was working for them and got up and “taught” us a thing or two. Inevitably one of the agents that was struggling would latch onto that agent and ask them to sit with them on their next phone call and listen to see how he or she could be more effective in getting appointments. Do I need to tell you what happened? If you didn’t guess, by the end of the evening we had dozens of appointments made and the next week was huge for everyone. The pizza party became a tradition in my offices and it wasn’t something that was very expensive financially, but priceless emotionally.
Another tradition called “The FedEx Day” is one that creates an environment ripe for creativity. I suggest this to all my clients and have done it as well. One day a month or quarter, whichever works in your business, everyone meets in the conference room. If you don’t have one, just make sure you are all away from your desks, computers or any other distractions. The goal of the day is to brainstorm together about ways to improve the business, increase revenue or come up with something that will set you apart from your competition. You can use white boards or flip charts or anything you have that will not hinder your creativity. Lots of crayons and markers with different colors will round out that space.
Once you have identified a few ideas, you now tweak them and polish them up because the next step is the BIG one. You absolutely, positively have to present it to the rest of the team by 10:30 the next morning…hence the name. Some of the greatest ideas come out of this day and the tradition of having this on the calendar gives people the freedom to be part of creating the future of the company.
Of course there are always the fun traditions like Fabulous Fridays when all you eat is cake and feel fabulous or Customer Appreciation Day where you shower your best customers with food and gifts. Whatever you decide to do, you are creating a tradition for your employees or your team. What better way to let them know that you care?
Remember, your culture is your brand.