How can we create new rituals to strengthen relationships between colleagues in spite of the distance? Interview with Louise-Véronique Sicotte, oral communication and work rituals trainer at UQAM Continuing Education.
From a simple toast to the celebration of a wedding, rituals are part of our traditions and allow us to mark the various important stages of life. In business, these milestones can take different forms, such as a ‘roasting’ for the departure of a colleague, thematic dinners or the annual planning session where we gather to think about the future of the organization, explains Louise-Véronique Sicotte.
But above all, you have to distinguish between ritual and routine, she says. “In a ritual, everyone experiences the same thing at the same time. In addition, there is meaning behind what we do, unlike a routine, which we do automatically.” Thus, the fact of making a symbolic gesture together “increases cohesion and allows us to forge links”, says the trainer.
So in the context of remote work it is even more important to plan for rituals not only because they strengthen relationships, but because they also bring “well-being, reassurance and a sense of solidarity.” To do this, the trainer suggests coming up with ways to carry on the company’s traditions in virtual mode, by arranging a remote exchange of Christmas gifts or by sending small, personalized messages to welcome a new recruit.
Focus on talent and creativity
Louise-Véronique Sicotte also suggests creating rituals that help people get to know each other. The fact is, informal discussions have been injured by the pandemic. There are a thousand and one ideas to make this happen, such as organizing virtual meals where everyone presents their favourite recipe, or even remote karaoke sessions. “You could also think of activities that highlight employees’ talent.” she says. “For example, on Fridays, they could share their passion for music, yoga or cooking by organizing a workshop.” “Don’t forget the humour.” she adds.
Short of ideas? “Why not ask your team members for their ideas on the type of virtual rituals they like”, suggests the trainer. “This leaves room for everyone’s creativity, while ensuring that everyone feels heard and that the ideas on the table meet their needs.” Also plan surveys to make sure that these activities are really useful and, if not, take the time to adjust the focus.
In short, rituals mark the passage of time, in addition to becoming an opportunity to strengthen ties between colleagues, thanks to their repetitive nature. “It is very important for companies, because these kinds of moments let you breathe,” observes Louise-Véronique Sicotte. “You don’t just identify with an organization by what it produces, but also by its ability to take care of its team and the relationships that form within it.”
This is why we must not “neglect the pleasure factor”, which must become a… tradition!