Creating Business Traditions in Non- Traditional Businesses

Do you have any unique traditions that you celebrate?

Our family started a tradition around Groundhog’s Day.

It was my husband’s idea. And it was a stroke of genius.

Many years ago, on a fateful February 1st, he gave each of our daughters a brown sock. “It’s for the Great Groundhog,” he explained. If they put the sock at the foot of their beds, then the Great Groundhog would fill it with candy at midnight, on his way to Punxsutawney.

Obviously, any excuse to get candy was worth a shot. They set their socks out and went to sleep.

And sure enough, the socks were filled to the brim with candy in the morning! They were ecstatic. 

But Anna, our oldest, was furious when she returned from school that afternoon. “Nobody has ever heard of the Great Groundhog,” she announced. “Do you have any idea how stupid I felt when I asked my friends what they got from the Great Groundhog, and they laughed at me?” She crossed her arms.

We hadn’t anticipated this reaction. “I’m so sorry! What did you say?” I asked.

She shrugged. “I had a ton of candy in my backpack. Why would I care what they think about the Great Groundhog?” And she grinned.

Word traveled quickly, and the Great Groundhog began visiting a lot of her friends in the following years. Apparently, nobody likes to be left out when candy is involved. If you ask the neighbors today, they’ll insist that the Great Groundhog has always stopped at their houses, because the neighborhood is on the way to Punxsutawney.

Traditions can be hard to trace. But even when you can’t pinpoint exactly where they came from, they’re important.

Traditions help us understand who we are- where we came from, and where we’re going. We define our values through traditions- what we stand for, and the things that matter to us.

Traditions connect us with a broader circle of people- whether it’s a family, or a neighborhood, or a team. They give us a sense of belonging. We’re a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves.

Traditions connect us to our culture.

We often think about traditions and culture in the context of families and communities.

They’re just as important in a business setting:

  • When employees feel like they belong, they’re going to stick around.
  • When everybody is on the same page, people function as a team.
  • When team members share the same set of values, they’re able to move forward together.

Leaders can use traditions to reinforce their business culture. But talking about traditions can feel counterintuitive, especially if you’re working for a new, cutting-edge company.

Traditions are not:

  • The “old way” of thinking, even after we’ve learned a better way to do things.
  • Resisting change and innovation.
  • Focused on the past and ignoring the future.

 

That’s because traditions have nothing to do with how the business runs its operations.

Traditions are all about nurturing people

The opposite of tradition is taking people for granted. Nobody wants that.

Regardless of where we find ourselves, humans have a lot in common: we share struggles, fears, needs, desires. Traditions enable us to stay true to our human roots. When we remember who we are and where we come from, we move forward with humility and wisdom.

Companies need traditions because people need these connections. We need to remember how far we’ve come as a team and look forward to where we’re headed. Leaders are intentional about creating these traditions for their businesses.

Traditions often begin with Mileposts: Celebrating the day the company was founded. Employee birthdays. Annual picnics. The 5K race that somebody talks everybody else into running… or walking… or cheering for. Meeting a sales goal. Welcoming a new client.

What traditions do your employees look forward to celebrating? How do you celebrate?

The best thing about traditions is that you can create a new one whenever you feel the need to disrupt business as usual. There’s never a wrong time to celebrate.

Just ask the Great Groundhog.

Here’s to Creating New Traditions!

Are you ready to celebrate a tradition?
Let us help you create a Milepost Moment!

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