Leadership and human resources management -

Team rituals: Creating a sense of unity in the team

Als Führungskraft sind Sie für Ihr Team verantwortlich. Wir zeigen Ihnen Beispiele für Rituale und wie Sie ein Wir-Gefühl im Team schaffen

Image source: Cherrydeck on Unsplash

Focusing on purely business meetings is very popular in some companies, the number of pure "fun events" seems to managers to be a waste of time and money. Yet it is precisely these rituals that promote motivation, that weld both management and project teams together and allow work to rest for a short time. Rituals exist in the family environment, in personal daily routines as well as in business life. A ritual is an action with a high symbolic content and socially significant repetition that takes place according to predefined rules.

  • Provide orientation
  • Structure timelines
  • Reduce complexity
  • Strengthen affiliation
  • Cushion negative emotions

In companies, rituals often arise uncontrollably, e.g. in the coffee kitchen, during regular morning hallway conversations or when arranging to have lunch together. It is the task of the manager to control rituals and thus make them a management tool, because especially in economically uncertain times, rituals give employees structure and orientation. Depending on the occasion, managers have different ways of structuring meetings. Such rituals can also create incentives for employees to forgo home office opportunities and come to the office more often.

Five rituals that build team spirit

1. Staying tuned ritual

The first point on the agenda is called "Small Successes", and the meeting starts with all participants reporting on their own - albeit small - successes in a predefined period of time.

Our tip
Distribute the agenda with the feedback of the small successes to all meeting participants in good time so that all participants can think about the successes achieved in advance and go into the meeting well prepared.

2. Learning ritual

For future error prevention, all participants comment on an error that has occurred, usually caused by themselves. The important question here is how the mistake can be avoided in the future, in order to achieve a learning effect for the future, not only for the person affected, but for all those present.

Our tip
Before the meeting, use a checklist to collect information from the participants about mistakes made in the past. During the meeting, the topics are dealt with anonymously and solutions are worked out together.

3. Creativity Ritual

The classic brainstorming as an instrument to promote the creativity of a team: Everyone expresses his or her ideas in key words, which are first collected on a flipchart but not evaluated. After all participants have expressed their ideas, they are sorted and prioritised.

Our tip
Written recording of ideas followed by open brainstorming and discussion.

4. Attention Ritual

At the beginning and/or at the end of the meeting, the participants briefly say in turn what is on their mind.

Our tip
Relate these emotions only to the professional and not to the private situation, otherwise this agenda item will take up too much space in the meeting and there is a risk that the meeting will get out of hand.

5. Red Cross Ritual

Participants can ask for support from those present: "What help do I want in the next week that will help me move forward - and from whom?"

Our tip
Put up a symbol for this topic. For example, a red cross made of cardboard that the person can put in front of them.

Rituals for sales

Especially in sales, it makes sense to introduce rituals that visualise successes. Because here, the motivation of the employees is particularly important. One possibility is the best-practice ritual, in which a key account manager reports on a successful customer meeting. The colleagues benefit from his or her experience. In addition, the sense of unity is strengthened - a very important factor, especially in sales. The problem: online meetings do not necessarily make team leadership easier. Colleagues who are rarely in direct contact can only develop common goals, values and norms with their manager to a limited extent. Increasing project work at different locations also makes it difficult to establish common rituals. But precisely because of their stabilising function, they are indispensable, because they secure the identity of a team. Last but not least, attention, appreciation and recognition by the manager are the real performance doping. When these factors manifest themselves in rituals, they have a double effect and the entire team draws motivation and new strength from them.

Rituals in companies - examples

  • The head of an organisational department gathered his staff every Friday afternoon after work for a little drink. There was little talk about work and a lot of laughter. All the employees liked to come to end the week together. The drinks were paid for out of a joint cash box.

  • The monthly regulars' table of a management consultancy, where the company paid for the drinks, offered the consultants, who mostly worked at the client's premises, a cosy setting to meet and exchange ideas about their projects. Besides the resulting "we-feeling", the meeting was also an ideal platform for know-how transfer.

  • In a trading company, the employees organised a Secret Santa every year at Christmas. Everyone had the task of getting a gift worth about five euros for a colleague who had been drawn beforehand. In this way, each individual was challenged to look into the interests of their colleagues. The person receiving the gift, however, did not know who it was from. The small ceremony lasted no longer than 30 minutes and promoted the working atmosphere.

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Read more articles on the topic of leadership management

Source Examples: Gisela Bolbrügge: Rituale als Führungsinstrument, in: Digitale Fachbibliothek Management und Führungspraxis, hrsg. v. Lutz Becker, Symposion Publishing

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