And then, my gratitude turned into inspiration. My team presented me with two treasures: a custom photo-book with letters of well-wishes and gratitude and a canvas filled with words, appropriately titled “PEP [the acronym version of our team name] Team = PEP Family”. The words on the canvas may seem like just words to the anyone else, but to me, the canvas was filled with special, lasting memories. We all laughed together as we pointed out some of the words and reminisced about the stories behind them. This wasn’t just a canvas—this was 10 years of my life with people that I had grown especially close to.
These treasures were a display of the power of lasting memories. We work hard (or should be working hard) to create powerful and lasting memories for our families—memories that our kids will hopefully remember fondly with their kids when they are older. But do you work to create lasting memories with your team?
At first, you may think this sounds a bit overboard, but if that’s the case, why do corporations spend so much time and money on team-building exercises? The relationship people have with others on their teams greatly affects retention and engagement. Creating powerful and lasting memories together is one way to improve that relationship.
There are many great team-bonding exercises you could do (some costing lots of money and others costing little—if you need recommendations, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org), but what I noticed when I was taking in my beautiful canvas was how many of those memories came up spontaneously through regular work experience. The ones that made us laugh the hardest happened when we got through a challenge together or created an “out-of-office” experience.
Want to cultivate lasting memories with your team? Here are some tips on how:
- Make sure that there is time for your team to connect informally. This “water cooler” talk is often lost in our quest for increased productivity, but is really important for bonding. Not yet convinced, check out this HBR article and see what happened when a manager changed the break schedule so that the team would all go on break at the same time.
- Assign your team to collaborative projects, and give them time to talk to you about them (as a team). This not only helps them grow and think through things, but it enables them to listen to each other in a different way, and gives you a chance to ask questions to could spark new ideas.
- Celebrate lasting memories as they happen. Sometimes we move from one thing to next so quickly that we don’t realize a lasting memory just happened—which means that the memory may not last at all. Pointing it out, giving everyone a chance to reflect (and retain) that experience can help create it’s lasting power. Better yet, foster an atmosphere where everyone calls out these memories as they happen.
- Record and share these memories. The photo book and canvas give me a chance to remember these opportunities more frequently, and remind me that the lasting memories I have from my work team contribute to who I am as a person—both at work and at home. These keepsakes also give me another opportunity to talk to my kids about the work that I do, and the fun people that I get do that work with.
While remembering these lasting memories is bittersweet—as I’ve changed teams—it also reminds me that I’m leaving that team with not only lasting memories and friendships, but with the opportunity to create lasting memories with my new team.
So have fun creating memories—and let me know if you come up with other fun ways to create lasting traditions with your work team!