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Complete, Celebrate, Close: Ceremonies to end your team's year well!

Has anyone else noticed that closing out of this year is so different to the comparative years prior to COVID?

Today is the last ‘office-working’ day before most offices close for Christmas.  It feels very different.

I remember this day traditionally being a concentrated day of excitement, celebration and completion.  Don’t get me wrong, it was never really a productive day, but one marked more by people ducking out for last minute shopping, coffees with colleagues and a champagne or beer at lunch, followed by the ‘half day’ closure before returning home to family and friends to celebrate the holidays. There was a buzz, an air of celebration, a sense of completing the year together and an all-out feeling of ‘this year is done!’

 

Flexibility and hybrid working communities brings a new feeling for me.  It feels more dissipated:  a quieter, more protracted ending that kicked off last week, and has been petering out since.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  Umano is now intentionally building a remote-first company culture and I love it.  In this transition toward our new reality, it’s simply of year of noticing the ‘firsts’ as these rituals and annual holidays pass us by.

The call-out for me is a reminder to be intentional on how you’re closing out the year with your team, if you haven’t already. There are many holidays which occur in December, the last month of our Gregorian calendar year. Whether you’re in the Hanukkah club, Christmas spirit, Yule time cheer, Kwanzaa harvest celebrations or the oh so spartan Festivus, there are some sorts of gathering & celebrating happening.

In addition to celebrating these cultural traditions, don’t forget to celebrate your team’s success this year. 

Whether you're looking to build a sense of momentum, enhance predictability or simply clear the decks for what's next, nothing tastes as sweet as finishing feels! Whatever the case, celebrate the energy of completion.

Professional sports teams adopt such rituals to close their season.  Generally, it’s a huddle to acknowledge the season has ended and finishing wherever you ended on the ‘ladder’. It is what it is.  Learnings are acknowledged, wins are celebrated, and growth since the beginning of the season is named and claimed. It’s finished.

 

This act allows players to switch off.  The cognitive load and the brain can let go. The end is named, and space is created before the ‘rebirth and renewal’ of a new season ahead.

In the simplest of ceremonies, gather the team either around the lunch table with colleagues or in your end of year celebrations. Introduce a tradition of an end of year ‘retro-lite’.  Have team members reflect on their year and share on what went well, what wasn’t achieved and where you actually go.  Call out the ‘shockers’, the perceived failures and reframe what you learned. It’s a shared moment to be vulnerable, build trust, have a laugh at yourselves and move on.
 
This small ceremony brings mental closure, and the opportunity to hit reset with the commencement of the new season to come in 2023.

Happy holidays from down-under everyone, and congratulations on closing out 2023, where ever you got to.  You made it.  It’s time celebrate!

Screenshot 2022-12-23 at 11.16.01 am.png

1 comment

Adaptavist is a UK company at its heart, and the UK, while not a particularly Christian country (a news story this year was that less than half of us, are, for the first time, not ChristIan), really throws itself into the idea of a "Christmas break".  The country effectively shuts down for a couple of weeks, and gets away with yelling "It's Christmas" for a lot of things.  We have stuff like "your company gives you 25 days holiday a year", but 3-6 of them have to be taken at Christmas because we shut the office

Adaptavist have always had a wintertime celebration around this time of year.  When we were smaller, we got the handful of non-uk people to fly to London to join the main group!  My first Adaptavist Christmas was learning how to make cocktails in a pub in Farringdon (I'm not sure that it was a good idea, as I've been drinking proper martinis and negronis ever since, because, oh, they taste so good).  For the next one, Jamie Echlin joined us and distracted everyone, including our first couple of US hires.  And it carried on getting bigger.

Obviously, Covid clobbered 2020 and 2021, but this year, we arranged for our largest four regions to get together to socialise with the people near them.  I think there were about 250-300 of the UK mob accumulated in Windsor (plus Harp, who is technically a Canadian member, but seems to be able to get himself invited to all the things, everywhere, because we all want him to be there)

But, yes, our teams have taken time to reflect.  The people organising our parties told our management to give teams time together.  There were deliberate slots in the calendar for "team time", and I saw a lot of teams make time to talk to each other.

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