Leaders need to teach routines, create the rites and rituals appropriate for their organization.
In 1975, a young, inexperienced second lieutenant reported to the 1st Armored Division in West Germany. The Division headquarters were in Ansbach with brigade units in the neighboring towns of Bamberg, Illesheim, Fürth (Nuremberg), Schwabach, Katterbach, Crailsheim, Erlangen, and Zirndorf. It was part of NATO’s Central Army Group.
Escorted to his new desk by the departing officer, he was handed a “turnover jacket.” This simple list was the routine. It listed the daily, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly and all the scheduled events. “Follow this and you’ll be Ok.”
Family businesses need rites, rituals and routines.
Wikipedia states the following:
“A rite or ritual is an established, ceremonial, usually religious act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories:
- rites of passage, generally changing an individual’s social status, such as marriage, adoption, baptism, coming of age, graduation, or inauguration;
- communal rites, whether of worship, where a community comes together to worship, such as Jewish synagogue or Mass, or of another character, such as fertility rites and certain non-religious festivals;
- rites of personal devotion, where an individual worships, including prayer and pilgrimages such as the Muslim Hajj, pledges of allegiance, or promises to wed someone.”
In the first phase, people withdraw from their current status and prepare to move from one place or status to another. “The first phase (of separation) comprises symbolic behavior signifying the detachment of the individual or group … from an earlier fixed point in the social structure There is often a detachment or “cutting away” from the former self in this phase, which is signified in symbolic actions and rituals. For example, the cutting of the hair for a person who has just joined the army. He or she is “cutting away” the former self: the civilian.
The transition (liminal) phase is the period between states, during which one has left one place or state, but has not yet entered or joined the next. Having completed the rite and assumed their “new” identity, one re-enters society with one’s new status. Re-incorporation is characterized by elaborate rituals and ceremonies, like debutante balls and college graduations.
Family businesses need to have processes. One of these should involve the on-boarding of employees. They need a process to permit family members to join the business. They need simple turnover jackets, to protect the business when people go on vacation.
Phil Crosby talked often about the difference between a ballet and a hockey game. Many businesses run like a hockey game, better businesses preform like a ballet. In a ballet there are defined roles, and predefined time slots.
Leaders need to teach routines, create the rites and rituals for the organization. We need to celebrate events: 30 days, 1 year anniversary…. We need to share data and keep everyone involved in safety, quality and numbers.