Playing with Tradition
In October of 1998, a co-worker and I had an unconventional idea to celebrate Halloween in the office. We encouraged everyone in our workspace to dress in costume and decorate their cubes. Then we invited peers from other departments to wander through this improvised, silly and disjointed maze. We did not know it at the time, but this spontaneous event which we playfully named Cubes of Abomination, would become the longest running cultural tradition within our Marketing & Sales division.
This year, Cubes (that’s what the cool kids call it) celebrated its 24th annual performance. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, a band of Team Members once again boldly lived out our value of fun in the workplace; although like last year the 2021 event was in video format vs live.
Organizational culture is defined by our shared behaviors at work. Traditions are formed when the best of these behaviors are sustained and transmitted forward for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations within the organization.
Traditions contribute to strengthening culture by providing moments to celebrate things that matter. They instill feelings of warmth, family and fun. The best traditions are those which are aligned with purpose, mission and values. Beyond amplifying the fun, Cubes provides participants a "best-of-tour" of the values and behaviors we aspire to demonstrate everyday within our company.
As I celebrate my 24th anniversary within my organization, it's been my experience that most of our established and emerging traditions are built on the foundations of fun, celebration and community. It is through the heart of workplace traditions that we are given the permission to work, laugh and play together.
While culture is created by groups of people over a long periods of time, traditions can be created by individuals; started immediately and by anybody. Here are some examples which might inspire you to start a new tradition of your own;
- Give back to the community by gathering teams and volunteering together biannually or quarterly.
- When working in the office, host Friday morning breakfasts within you departments (or across departments) rotating hosting responsibilities.
- Celebrate big sales and achievements with a "moment"; ringing a bell or playing a song.
- Find fun ways to network - consider monthly rotations where everyone gets to meet for coffee (virtually and/or in person) with different people within your division or across divisions within your company.
- Start an annual mentoring program pairing learners and leaders.
- The holidays spawn conventional traditions like pot-luck luncheons, adopt-a-family drives and gift exchanges. One leader invites her team to an annual holiday dinner party and white-elephant exchange within her home to underscore the sense of warmth and family.
Dan is a Sr. Director in Sales and celebrated his 24th anniversary with Universal Orlando this year. He is also a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach with a passion to drive engagement by helping Team Members discover their natural talents and productively apply them in the workplace.