Rituals for a Better Culture

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Who is Jacob Aldridge, Business Coach?

“The smart and quirky advisor who gets sh!t done in business.” Back independent since 2019.

Since April 2006, I’ve been an international business advisor providing bespoke solutions for privately-owned businesses with 12-96 employees.

At this stage you have proven your business model, but you’re struggling to turn aspirations into day-to-day reality. You are still responsible for all 28 areas of your business, but you don’t have the time or budget to hire 28 different experts.

You need 1 person you can trust who can show you how everything in your business is connected, and which areas to prioritise first.

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Transcript

Back in Episode 6 of Blackboard Fridays, we talked about a framework in a structure for creating a winning culture. One of the questions I’ve gotten because of that was around the how, specifically some of the behaviors and rituals that I encourage businesses to use. Now rituals in a culture are almost by definition unique and personalized to your business.

The idea is that your team, who are unique, have unique rituals, that make them feel like they belong. They don’t want to go and work for any other business and the right people will be attracted to work for your business because of those unique rituals. But I’ve been asked to some examples so I’m going to share five examples here today. Now these aren’t being shared with the view to you implementing these specifically in your business. I just wanted to take a few of the more interesting or extreme examples of cultural rituals that I’ve seen with my clients and my businesses to help you understand this is a real opportunity to push those boundaries and have a little bit of fun.

Let’s go through number one, a Hobby Horse. This is a sales business and many sales businesses have got a tradition of a bell—you know when they sign a new deal, they ring the bell and it really energizes the whole team, everybody wants to be the person that gets the chance to ring the bell next. Well, these guys took it to another level. Instead of a bell, they’ve got a Hobby Horse—the sort of thing you might buy for a child, and when you squeeze the ear, it made a sound like a horse. Instead of ringing a bell when they go to sale, the salesperson was responsible for going out the back, grabbing the Hobby Horse, squeezing that ear, and then riding it around the office until the noise has stopped. They loved it; it was fabulous. I tell you when I share that story a lot in the context of culture rituals, nine times out of ten people laugh at the story and think that would be way too crazy for them. One out of ten, they go looking for a Hobby Horse.

Number two, gentlemen’s jackets. This is a business I worked with for many years and one of their traditions was that whenever they had a conference, whenever they like the whole business together spread out across the country, they would have a formal sit-down dinner and gentlemen would wear dinner jacket. They had a specific rule that the gentleman could not remove their jacket until the chairman of the board had removed his jacket. The chairmen over time, they change, but they all had a whole lot of fun. Every time, they kind of got up to grab a drink, they slowly start thinking about their jackets, put it back on, knowing that every other man there was keeping an eye on them to see when they could take their jackets off. A good fun little thing and one that really brought us together.

Number three, swearing. Some businesses have very strict policy about not swearing. I had one client that built into their culture strategy paper that rule that they were allowed to swear at work. As I say, these aren’t recommendations, things that will apply for your business, but it was something that they felt was part of what made them special, and they wanted to solidify that.

Number four, new date idea. How’s this for a little bit of fun. Once a month of their team meeting, this business each person has responsible for one month out of six for coming to that team meeting with an idea for a new date. It’s there for something that they, as individuals can take their partners on, it’s a little bit of fun and it’s something that they then share with their clients as well so it’s a great conversation piece and the great way to keep them as a business engaged with their local community.

Number five, this is something we do with businessDEPOT—Friday bingo. Once a month, we get together on a Friday afternoon, a few drinks, knock off at half past four, and we play a game of bingo. Now you think that that might be a little bit old-school, a little bit naff, but it’s an awful lot of fun. It’s a great simple exercise that brings the whole team together in a casual way, have a little bit of fun. It’s one of those things that make us as a business unique and it’s something that our team enjoyed. It’s something that makes them more engaged with us as a business, and that leads to all the benefits of a great culture—loyalty, extra contribution, and a whole lot more energy, and motivation when they come into work. Friday. Blackboard Fridays. That reminds me. Seventy six, seven and six. Was my beautiful wife worth every penny? 76. 

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