Touching the Traditions
In 1970, I purchased the above-pictured plastic serving tray for about $2.00. With inflation accounted for, that same purchase today would cost approximately $15.52. I recently looked on eBay and discovered the same (1970) tray is selling for $19.99 + an $11.00 shipping charge. Making the cost of the tray $30.99, meaning the value has almost doubled. When you realize that it took 53 years to do so (and that the tray has been put to use nearly every one of those 53 years,) then you understand its inherent value is even greater. “What should we put in the ‘N’ this year, Nana?” “What did you used to put in the ‘O’ in the olden days, Nana?”
You get the idea. It is about tradition, connection, and a jumping-off point for conversations bolstering camaraderie. “Do you remember the year we accidentally poured olive juice on the cookies?”
There is that “something” about having a tangible object to see and touch that helps reinforce traditions.
Most of us are pretty good about using objects in our personal lives (especially during the holidays) to reinforce family traditions – menorahs, advent calendars, collections of tree ornaments, mezuzahs, special plates, holiday foods, dreidels, and so on.
Holding Workplace Traditions
Workplace tradition has to do with company culture. It is the beliefs, customs, attitudes, values, and characteristics of your construction business. It is about shared information, behaviors, practices, and visible standpoints of leadership and frontline employees.
Passing on workplace traditions is made more accessible by using tangible objects. Visual and hands-on cues provide a quality that is hard to achieve otherwise.
Perhaps the most essential place of traditions in our personal and business lives is that it gives us something to look forward to and reminisce about. Company traditions foster a sense of unity and identity.
You likely already observe milestones, anniversaries, and other important occasions. Adding an object that reflects those achievements is one way to highlight and clarify them. Beyond the longevity of your employees, here are a few other occasions to bring on the traditional celebrations.
The most lucrative job of the year
The most fun job of the year
The midway point of a massive project
Choosing the Objects of Tradition
Some objects will be brought about organically, like the Golden Banana Award used by Hewlett Packard. Others will only be achieved through a purposeful look at what is desired and the intended outcome.
If you haven’t heard the saga of the famed Golden Banana Award used by the folks at Hewlett Packard, here is a summary.
Get your team involved. Encourage them to think about the shared values, goals, and identity found in your construction business. Open discussions may lead to places you haven’t considered, allowing your team to make meaningful contributions and a deeper connection to the chosen symbol.
Choosing a physical object that best represents your construction company’s culture can profoundly impact the individual team members who have been inspired and will be inspiring to those who follow them.
Some Tradition Examples to Inspire
Think about things you already joke about. That raggedy, old pair of work gloves Hector won’t give up until every last stitch has broken can be spray-painted bronze and presented to him as a symbol of his tenacity. Later, that symbol (much smaller bronze work gloves) becomes a key fob employees seek to receive annually.
Consider using a symbol of overcoming adversity. Something went wrong on your worksite. Say a broken excavator halted work during the completion of the first major profitable project you undertook. Now, you have a large plaque proudly hanging in your office. It has a representation of that broken excavator at the top. The names of individuals who most recently overcame various obstacles in your most recent projects are displayed beneath it.
Here are a few other objects to consider:
Wooden puzzle piece – team player
Blinged-out magnifying glass – problem solver
Shadow-boxed measuring tape – good judgment, evaluator
Using Objects Associated with Traditions:
Keeps everyone connected.
Are important parts of our identities.
Create a sense of comfort and security.
Reflects core values.
Helps to increase employee satisfaction and productivity.
Reflection: How will you use the power of objects when celebrating your construction company’s traditions?
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Clients and customers
Employees and subcontractors
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