March 18, 2010

Your Morning Ritual and the Message it Sends


We each have morning rituals that start our day.  Yours might involve coffee and the paper, tea and Twitter, or hitting the treadmill followed by a protein shake.

Organizations (or more precisely, their staffs) have rituals as well.  How the day starts says something about what people value in how they approach their work.

In my first association job, we had a morning ritual I came to deeply appreciate over time.  Our small staff gathered each day at 8 a.m. in our break area.  We quickly offered updates on what had transpired since our gathering the previous day, passed on relevant information about our efforts for the day ahead, asked for help from colleagues where it was needed, and often did some quick brainstorming around a question posed either in advance or on the spot.  These quick gatherings lasted no more than 20-30 minutes and usually included a fair amount of laughter and good-natured ribbing.

The messages this simple ritual sent were powerful:

  • We're all in this together.
  • We start our days off as a team.
  • It is important to keep your colleagues updated.
  • Ask for help and you will get it.
  • Soliciting input from others is important.
  • We should have fun as a team.

Our morning meetings probably did more for teamwork, collaboration, and achieving greater results than most of our off-site retreats.

So often I am in offices where the mornings start with individuals going about their own business with little interaction with (or connection to) their colleagues.  Many times people walk right pass others' offices without so much as a morning greeting.  Perhaps it works well for them.  For me, it sends messages of independence, not interdependence, and I'm not sure how sustainable that is nowadays.

What messages do your morning rituals send and how are they supporting the results you want to achieve?

2 comments:

David M. Patt said...

Some people don't want to start the day with a group exercise, and that should be OK. The ritual, if there is one, will depend a lot on the culture of the individuals.

Jeffrey Cufaude said...

Not sure I would call this a group exercise that individuals would feel the need to opt out of. It was a modified staff meeting and not participating in that should not be OK in my book.

And I think an organization has the right to establish a culture that it expects individuals to support within reason.