Traditions are symbols of passion. Whether in your routines or life, a tradition amplifies to your audience what’s important to you.
Every September I host a meeting with Climbers (our term for employees) at PG that have received our coveted Sherpa Award. The Sherpa award is given annually to a Climber we feel has guided us by modeling who we are and exemplified our Value system better than anyone in our community.
Our annual meeting has one objective: we come together and debrief for an entire day to evaluate the previous year and determine how we can enhance the culture we protect.
I always set aside two days. On Day one, we slow down and zoom out. We do a reflective team exercise by simply asking ourselves some simple questions:
- What are we feeling great about?
- How are we doing better today than the last time we met?
- What do we need to Start, Stop and Continue doing to make our Culture even stronger in the next year?
We are painfully transparent and we agree on a plan of action to make our climb together even more fulfilling.
The second day is always play. We don’t take ourselves too seriously at PG and we celebrate what really matters in life –connection.
This second step is where I’ve witnessed Leaders in organizations miss an amazing opportunity. Most will plan a meeting with a team building event, but the event will lack the pizzazz to support the primary message the Leader wants their team to hear – to become more cohesive. They’ll choose a team building event and their people immediately dilute it by viewing it as just that – a team building event they have to do.
I try to do the opposite by asking: How can I create an experience they will want to talk about?
To create the story I’ll pick a new location to host our meeting where few people would plan to go on their own. Then I’ll plan a unique event they may never do on their own that will create a lasting memory. To build suspense leading up the meeting, I won’t announce the secret location – instead, I have them submit guesses for this year’s event. (This always gives me good ideas of where to go in future years too). When I announce the secret location two weeks prior, I don’t disclose our event. Up until the night before they are all talking among themselves trying to figure it out – adding more lore.
It puts the responsibility on me to deliver and it takes a few extra steps – the same thing any Leader must do to build a strong culture.
One of the most important part of building culture is getting people to tell the stories you create together. You as a Leader must create the experience that they want to talk about and others want to hear.
It’s not the extra step that takes time, it’s all the extra work you have to do because you didn’t take the extra step.
Past Sherpa Trips
In the beginning, I took the Sherpa Award-winners for the year on a trip with me. Then in 2017, I began a new tradition, inviting all the Sherpas, past and present. As the group continues to grow, so do the stories.
2018: Portland, Oregon
2017: Santa Fe, New Mexico