Enjoy this excerpt from our new book, Healthy Leadership.
Back in your childhood, you may have belonged to a club that had a secret handshake. Just knowing that handshake made you feel like you were a part of the group, right? It was a “belonging” factor that made you feel connected. The handshake was something special that only members could do or know.
In your work life, feeling like part of a team provides that same sense of belonging. When this need goes unmet, however, you feel alone and disconnected. If you don’t feel connected to others, you come to work each day, but you leave your heart at home.
Rituals make members feel connected to one another through unique yet common experiences. As a result, they create strong and long-lasting personal connections that are group specific.
Healthy rituals fit your leadership style and the chemistry of your team—they feel natural. And they are performed with 100 percent reliability. If you celebrate team members’ birthdays monthly on “Last Friday Birthdays,” but you forgot to do it twice last year, then it’s not a ritual. Healthy rituals are reliable and positively anticipated by teams.
Here are a few ways you can use team rituals to enhance a sense of belonging:
To be intentional about your team rituals, start with a specific team need, and then determine if you already have a ritual in place that reinforces that need. If not, create one.
For example, at one client, the sales and marketing departments were very siloed and not communicating about important prospecting data. To resolve this, the manager started a Taco Tuesday lunch where both the sales and marketing teams ran through the prospect list and their respective plans to garner the new business, aiding in collaboration and coordination between departments. Not only did members of each team get to know each other and work better together, but they were able to close more sales.
Rituals that are well-designed stand the test of time; even so, occasionally a ritual can become “stale” or it no longer reinforces the need. In that case, change up the elements that aren’t working or replace the ritual with a new one.
If you do not have a ritual in place, get creative and develop one that feels fresh and organic. Then systematize it so it’s easy to sustain. Finally, make sure to involve your team in this process—they are often the best source of ideas for rituals.