All organizations have rituals - from the mundane everyday routines such as coffee breaks to less frequent events like annual meetings and farewell parties. Leaders have long understood that rituals are levers for improving the organization’s performance. At the team level, rituals can also transform team performance in four ways: it creates a shared identity, it makes things more personal, it stimulates emotions and reduces anxiety, and it triggers positive behaviors.
As setting up your rituals with your team can be a challenge, here is a framework to help you go through with it.
- Plan in advance: set in the agendas all the management rituals for the next 12 months
- Explain: explain to your team the objective of your management rituals
- Remain disciplined: be always on time and never cancel an individual or team meeting
- Set your management rituals:
- Manage day-to-day: check-in & 1:1 meeting [weekly or bi-weekly]
- Facilitate collaboration: team meeting [weekly or bi-weekly]
- Review performance: objectives setting & review [quarterly or bi-annual]
- Support development: career and training discussion [annual]
- Share vision and values: offsite, workshop [at least once a year]
Plan in advance
The first thing you need to do is to design your management rituals. That is answering the question: what are the rituals I want to put in place with my team to manage day-to-day, facilitate collaboration, drive performance, support development as well as share vision and values?
Depending on your company, some of these rituals can already be set or recommended by HR but we think it’s important to start by taking a step back and put down on paper or on a spreadsheet what the year will look like for you and your team. The sooner you plan and block dates the more efficient these rituals will be.
The next thing you need to do, and which too often is forgotten or taken lightly, is to explain. Why are management rituals important? Why did you design your management rituals this way? What will be the benefits for each of your team members?
The right forum to have that conversation could be an onboarding meeting for a new team member, a one-to-one meeting or a team meeting. The important thing is to have that conversation and to explain your convictions. If your team feels how crucial these rituals are for you as a leader, they will invest into them. If they feel you are going through the motions because you are simply following what HR is asking you to do, they will see these rituals as senseless chores.
Your vision as a leader begins with your management rituals.
Rituals create a shared identity and reduce anxiety through repetition. They are also a reflection of your vision of management. If you lose discipline and start canceling these rituals, the message your team will hear is that they are not that important to you (the rituals, or worse, themselves).
Even when it’s tough, urgent priorities, periods with more work than usual, disappointing results, you should always try to keep your discipline. Remember that your team members experience your management through these rituals first.
Set your management rituals
Here is our template for management rituals.
Weekly or bi-weekly check-ins and one-to-one.
We are strong believers in the check-ins and one-to-one meetings as the core ritual between managers and team members. It is a great way to set the cadence, have regular checkpoints regarding objectives and priorities, have meaningful discussions about successes and challenges. When put in practice, it will become the backbone of your management.
Weekly or bi-weekly team meetings
May it be a quick stand-up meeting, a more in-depth roundtable, having a regular team forum is key to align on priorities and foster collaboration. Meeting collectively and regularly will create a sense of belonging among your team over time. It can also create opportunities and support your activity. “I’m meeting with John from Company Z this week” “Oh wait, I went to school with John, I can surely help you get that deal done!”: situations like this often happens during team meetings.
Quarterly or bi-annual objectives setting & reviews
Setting objectives for your team is a particularly important moment. Whether you set them using OKR or SMART methodologies, top-down or bottom-up, these objectives will be driving your team during the year. Our recommendation is to at least set and formally review objectives twice a year.
Regarding objectives setting, your goal should be to achieve mutual buy-in. For reviews, your goal should be to have an in-depth conversation, prepared on both sides, where there were absolutely no surprises. Why? Because your regular one-to-one meetings will have given you the framework to check in on objectives, share feedback both ways as well as getting a sense of the evolution of mood during the period. If you achieve this, your team will not view reviews as a feared meeting with an uncertain outcome but as a constructive conversation.
Career and training discussion
Leaders make their teams grow. A great way to make sure you are doing so is to plan a formal career and growth discussion at least once a year. Dedicating an hour to these topics will give the opportunity to better understand your team members goals, how they can align with the company’s goals and how your team members could grow within the organization.
One of the most satisfying aspects of management is to see your team members grow as individuals and professionals. Members who grow will be more engaged and motivated and will trigger positive behaviors throughout your team and organization.
Share vision and values
It is sometimes useful to take a day off, go outside of your usual work environment and step back. This is what offsites are for. At least once a year, we recommend planning a day to reinforce vision, values and bonding. It is best to plan this day when the workload is lower, to plan and communicate in advance to make sure everyone will be able to be fully dedicated to the day. An agenda mixing looking back at the past period, projecting on the next, working together on specific tasks and a moment to have fun together usually does the trick.
To wrap up, leaders set management rituals with their teams with the full calendar year in mind. Mixing regular rituals to manage day-to-day with less frequent events such as career discussions or offsites will help you turn your management beliefs into concrete actions, create a sense of belonging and define your team culture.