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Why Firm Traditions Are Important

By Joey Havens

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As I complete our State of the Firm (SOTF) presentations this year, I’m reflecting on how energizing it is for me and so many team members. Much like the State of the Union address, this annual presentation reflects on the previous year and outlines our plan for growth in the current year. In a four week period, we are face-to-face with everyone in our firm and for me, these are really special times. It’s a privilege and blessing to have the opportunity to see every team member, build and renew connections, and start new relationships.

As I visit with team members, many share with me so many personal milestones, celebrations and challenges. I strive to be intentional in letting each team member know I want to know them and care about them as a team member and as a person. One of the greatest ways for me to serve our firm is to care for our team. 

Why is this tradition so important? As a firm, we invest this time and energy for a lot of great reasons. Understanding the reasons why, also helps sustain our energy and focus on how important this ritual combined with Sunday lunch (our phrase for getting together to socialize and eat) is to who we are.

Here are my top ten reasons why traditions like this are so important to our firms:

  1. Celebrating progress – I believe that teams who celebrate together win more, passionately pursue their mission together and simply have more fun. Sharing stories of progress and wins fuels positive energy and highlights the behaviors you want to reward.  
  2. Communicate – There are so many things that we are able to communicate and reinforce with each SOTF presentation. People want and need to be informed. People receive information in different ways and at different times. The SOTF also puts a priority on the communication so that it is received by a higher percentage of the team.
  3. Appreciation – This is our opportunity to share how much we care and appreciate each team member. One of the primary basic needs and many times unmet needs in our profession, is sincere and timely appreciation. 
  4. Windshield view – This allows us to share a vision for our future. Communicating a compelling vision is critical to having team members engage on your journey. This format not only allows communication of the vision but details on how we are going to do this together.
  5. Focus – We are able to focus on what’s really important and the SOTF helps us understand that focus. It is so easy to get distracted and as people get busy, they lose focus on what is critical for the mission.  Our SOTF allows us to communicate again, our critical pathway. 
  6. Accountability – As a firm, it demonstrates our accountability and transparency to each team member for what we committed to do. Team members respond well if you met your goal or you didn’t.  They do not respond well when they never know how the team did and you start a new race.  Accountability actually inspires your team to rally for the goal line.
  7. Connecting – We always try to experience some fun things together and spend a Sunday lunch. People have a need to have a sense of belonging, when you have connection events and opportunities for the team to know each other personally, it provides more connections, thus engagement.
  8. Learning – This presentation allows us to learn together. Today’s pace of change means we should never miss an opportunity to engage and learn together.  When we have the entire firm learning the same skills at the same time, we develop even more synergies. 
  9. Feedback – We use our SOTF to gather transparent feedback from each team member. This feedback helps us to be even better.  Every voice counts and this also helps increase our buy in for our windshield view.  When you provide team members a confidential and transparent way to exercise their voice on the culture and their personal experience, you identify areas to work to be even better.  This process also stresses how important their opinion is. 
  10. Mission – Our opportunity to continue to stress our mission and share the stories where we are making a difference in so many ways.  Every organization should keep their “WHY”, their mission, front and center for the team.  If you don’t communicate it, prioritize it, show case it, how can it be important? 

What firm tradition connects your team to your mission, vision and core values?