[February 20, 2014] Rituals are a special part of daily life … a pattern of habits that allows us predictability. Rituals can be defined as a stereotyped sequence of activities that are designed to achieve a desired (and predictable) goal. Leaders need to be aware of them and encourage the good rituals.
Rituals can be simple things like having a cup of coffee with your friends each morning at work. Or, it could be a Wednesday “hump day” luncheon. These allow us to take in a special part of friendship from a pre-determined event.
Regardless of the formality of a ritual, leaders should be aware that rituals do help people. There are positive feelings in these patterns that produce a wished for outcome. One way leaders can help is by not interrupting or banning these rituals; unless unsafe.
Years ago, I once had a crusty old sergeant working for me who every time we went to the shooting range, he would lick his thumb and brush the front barrel site before he shot the target set. I asked him why he would do this before shooting his rifle. I asked him, “was it to see the target better?” He told me that by thumbing the barrel site he “just knew” that his scores would improve because this was the way he’d always done it.
Rituals can be good and beneficial to people. Encourage safe and healthy rituals. They help us accomplish our goals, even if they have no direct impact on those goals.