Unique Cultural Traditions and Why They’re Important

by Scott - 3 Comments

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One thing I love hearing about is unique cultural traditions within companies. They provide a window into the actual “company” beyond just the product. This is usually pretty opaque and far more interesting to me. Building a good product is cool, but building a company that people love to work at  is way cooler. Ideally you want both.

It’s easy to lump cultural traditions as a gimmick to make work seem more fun or interesting. But I think they’re so much more than that.

One aspect that separates one company from another are the people and the things that you do together. When you do fun, rewarding things as a company, it’s awesome. And when those things feel unique to your company, I think they’re all the more powerful. Just like a distinctive uniform, uniqueness emphasizes that you’re part of a team. No one gets to wear Yankees pinstripes on the diamond unless you’re a Yankee. And when you feel part of a team, it inspires the feeling that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. This cultivates a far more authentic allegiance than a fat paycheck and pushes you to press on when faced with adversity. That’s why engendering a sense of  team is so important.

Unique Cultural Traditions -> Greater Sense of Team -> Serves Employees Both Individually and as a Team Well -> Serves the Business Well

I wanted to highlight a couple of unique cultural traditions I think are pretty cool:

SinglePlatform

We do a lot of cool things at SP, but there’s no doubt the staple is our Gong. Every time a team (Product, Sales, BD, etc) hits one of their monthly goals, they get to hit the gong. A new employee’s first sale or exceptional accomplishment also warrants hitting the gong.

Unique Cultural Traditions
 

Celebrating each other’s success is something we all really enjoy and has definitely brought us closer together as a team.

We’re also starting a guest speaker series. Each month, a guest speaker who is doing some cool things will come in and speak to the company…A few of us also do pushups.

Greatist

Fittingly, every friday the good folks over at Greatist do a fitness, health, and/or happiness activity together as a team. Examples of this have included ice skating, parkour, crossfit, tai chi, dyeing easter eggs, and even a hike with intermittent wine tasting. They call these  “gractivities.”

This pretty cool version of a happy hour that aligns with their goal to live the life they champion. Pretty cool stuff.

Tough Mudder

When they’re not building kickass mud runs, Tough Mudder employees get to partake in the “Tough Mudder University.” Each month employees read a Harvard Business School case study then come together to as a company to have an intellectual discussion in the style of an HBS classroom.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKXzw01_xSs[/youtube]
 

You can read more about Tough Mudder University here.

Savored

One cool thing about being in the MLB is that your theme song plays when you step up to the plate. Turns out you don’t need to be able to hit the long ball to have a theme song.

As a member of the savored sales team, you get to pick a theme song and every time you get a sale, they play your song for the company to hear. They might have a gong too…

Signpost

Every Friday the Signpost team has an all hands on deck meeting. At the beginning of the meeting they hand out small pieces of paper for people to write notes or props to each other. They fold up the papers, put them in a hat, and at the end of each meeting, two people read the “Signpost Snaps” aloud. They can be serious or jokes.

Lawline

The entire Lawline company holds a “Huddle” to start the day every morning. A different employee each morning is assigned to present something motivating or interesting for 5 minutes to their fellow employees.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRAC7G_Pcrk[/youtube]
 

I believe they also have a quick Q & A for the presenting employee in order to promote transparency within the company across departments. More about the lawline company culture can be found on their awesome company culture blog here.

Cultural traditions can yield benefits beyond simply progressing the sense of “team”. As evidenced in the examples above they also be used to:
  • Motivate employees to excel
  • Encourage personal and professional development
  • Recruit employees

Creating a place where people love to work may be the most important thing you can do. And cultural traditions are one way to enhance this.

I’d love to hear other examples of unique company traditions or elements of culture. Please share in the comments if you have any.

 

Big thanks to Nicola, Derek, Andrew, and Sam for their help with this post.

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