Michael Norton: How Rituals Can Transform Your Team’s Connection, Happiness & Performance


In our every day experience at work, we attend innumerable events – team meetings, orientations, employee recognition events, etc.) – that all have the potential to become really tedious & uninspiring simply because they feel routine & therefore joyless.

But there’s an extremely powerful way of reinvigorating these kinds of events & making them truly meaningful to people. According to Harvard Business School professor, Michael Norton, adding rituals “can convert ordinary acts from black & white to technicolor.” 

Rituals are symbolic actions or ceremonies that hold special meaning within a team & help create a shared identity amongst everyone on it. When teammates participate in consistent rituals, they end up feeling more united to a common purpose, values & each other.

In his new bestseller, “The Ritual Effect: From Habit to Ritual, Harness the Surprising Power of Everyday Actions,” Norton stresses that rituals are a powerful tool for leaders to use in fostering team bonds & connection.

Starting every team meeting with the same brief ritual, for example, or awarding the identical prize to employees whenever they attain a certain right-of-passage, proves to have a powerful effect on engagement & even motivation. That’s because rituals reinforce positive behaviors. When teams celebrate achievements or recognize individual efforts in the exact same way every month, people on the team will work very hard to ensure their own performance is called out & honored.

In this wildly informative discussion, Norton brilliantly explains why rituals so often yield deep meaning for people. And he shares several specific examples of the kinds of rituals workplace managers would be highly enlightened to introduce to their teams!

By Mark C. Crowley

Mark C. Crowley is the author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century which has been taught in 11 American universities. He is a global speaker, leadership consultant and thought leader on the topics of workplace culture and employee engagement.