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  • Anna Weltner

Five industries, five inspiring team-building rituals

While researching team rituals, we came across many ideas aimed at office and remote workers. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a monthly pizza party, a virtual coffee date, or a Tacky Tie Tuesday. But what team-building rituals might be taking place on a film set or football pitch, and what can we learn from them?

For your inspiration, here are five great team-building rituals from five very different fields.

Team of men and women colleagues high-five

1. “That’s a wrap” — a filmmaking ritual

We’ve all heard this common phrase directors announce when a film has finished shooting, and it’s usually met with applause and cheers from cast and crew. But did you know that filmmakers often “wrap” individual actors, crew, and even inanimate objects who have just completed their last scene, even if the film is far from finished? The “wrap” ritual allows a team to pause and show gratitude, while alleviating the anxiety or sadness felt by the departing individual. Researchers at Stanford have even applied this practice to relieve burnout among hospital staff.

2. “Good game” — a sports ritual

If you’ve played sports, you may recall a common post-game ritual of shaking hands with and congratulating the opposing team for their efforts. This ritual is a display of sportsmanship, a key value athletes are taught from a young age. Rivalries aren’t always so clear-cut in the office as they are on the field, but celebrating others’ achievements and showing humility at your own “wins” creates a better work culture.

3. The closer’s note — a food service ritual

After a night working in a busy restaurant, the “closer” is the last employee left to settle the till, wash the dishes, and clean and prepare the space for the next morning. Closing duties can seem to go on endlessly into the night, yet any overlooked tasks can be viewed harshly by the “opener” in the light of day. A common closer’s ritual of leaving a note for the next shift helps to communicate any unfinished items (“we’re out of towels, but there’s more being delivered at 10”) but often evolves into a medium for sharing funny anecdotes, drawings, and warm greetings with the next person, alleviating any tension felt in this otherwise silent hand-off.

4. The backstage warm-up — a performing arts ritual

Backstage is a place for performers to transform from their outside selves to their stage selves. Often, this transformation begins with physical and vocal movements to loosen the body and warm up the voice. One particular activity some performing arts teachers recommend is “shaking the sillies out,” a moment of physical and vocal free expression to release pent-up energy. The effect is cathartic, freeing, and fun, and can be a great way to shake off energy after a big meeting or before a presentation.

5. The failure award — a tech industry ritual

Google, gaming giant Supercell, and other innovative workplaces have made waves in the past for their policy of rewarding failure. PG&E also has a “Heroic Failure Award.” The idea behind such a dubious sounding award is that innovation requires risk, and that employees who take on this risk should be celebrated, rather than shamed. The award recognizes creative thinking regardless of outcome, thus maintaining the level of psychological safety workers need to make their big breakthroughs.

Opposing football teams shake hands


Image credit: Shutterstock


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