The Secret Rituals and Traditions That Bring Teams Together

Last Updated Dec 20, 2010 2:01 PM EST

One option: the ugly Christmas sweater party
'Tis the season for traditions that bring families a little closer. Often it's the little things, such as a particular meal or shared activity, that seem to matter the most and give everyone a shared identity.

It's no different in business. Rituals and traditions bring organizations together and define your culture. Plus, they help your business stand out from the lowest-common-denominator sameness of corporate America, which makes a big difference if you want to attract top talent.

Why not use this holiday season to adopt new company traditions? Here are some of my favorite examples to give you inspiration:

  • Gentle Giant, a Somerville, Mass.-based moving company, hosts "The Stadium Run" up and down the stairs at Harvard Stadium. The tradition has become a rite of passage for new movers and a deeply ingrained part of Gentle Giant's culture, which celebrates hard work.
  • At Australian-based Atlassian, engineers receive a day off each quarter to tinker with a pet project. The tradition's only stipulation is that the engineers must present the results of their day in the lab to the rest of the company the next morning. Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes calls these "FedEx days" -- a nod to the shipping company's promise to deliver overnight.
  • Joanna Pineda, founder of Arlington-based Matrix Group International, holds a Halloween pumpkin-carving contest each year for all employees. Most companies do something around December, but celebrating Halloween allows Pineda to stand out in the minds of her employees.
  • Stouffville, Ontario-based Strategic Information Technology hosts an annual kids' Christmas party with an official visit from Santa just for the children of employees.
What traditions give your company a sense of togetherness?

More from Built To Sell:

John Warrillow is the author of Built to Sell: Turn Your Business into One You Can Sell. He has started and exited four companies and was named one of America's most influential marketers by BtoB Magazine in 2008. Think you can sell your business? Take the Sellability Index Quiz.






Flickr photo courtesy of TheUglySweaterShop, CC 2.0
  • John Warrillow

    John Warrillow is the author of Built to Sell: Turn Your Business into One You Can Sell. He has started and exited four companies. Most recently, he transformed Warrillow & Co. from a boutique consultancy into a recurring revenue model subscription business, which was acquired by The Corporate Executive Board. Watch this video to hear John's thoughts on starting and growing a business you can sell.

    John and his book "Built to Sell" have been featured in CNN, MSNBC, Time magazine and ABC News. John was recognized by BtoB Magazine's "Who's Who" list as one of America's most influential business-to-business marketers.

    John now divides his time between homes in Toronto, Canada, and Aix-en-Provence, France. He is a husband and father of two rambunctious boys.