Standing on Ceremony

What does it mean to “stand on ceremony?” That’s a term to denote holding fast to an ideal, principal or idea that holds meaning to the person “standing firm” on it. You may think this only affects people in their personal life, or religious, cultural and political communities, but the term is applicable in your workplace too – especially for small businesses.

How does standing on ceremony affect your business?

As a small business owner, you know it is important to have a diverse employee base, and that your clients come from all walks of life. Today’s smart entrepreneurs know that simply having a good product or service is not enough to stay in business. You must also be aware of the things that matter to your staff and clients – the things they are willing to take a stand on – so you can be as welcoming, inclusive, diverse and tolerant as possible.

How can you find out what matters to the people that drive your business?

A certain level of finesse is required. You cannot crudely ask about a person’s lifestyle, religion or cultural practices! For example, to find out what each member of your staff considered important, you can ask if there are any days, traditions or ideals that they honour, and if they would like to share those traditions, if appropriate, with the office. Don’t say, “I see you are a woman of colour. Can you bring in jerk chicken and curry for Cariwest Days here at the office?” That is incredibly insensitive. You can say, however, “We have a multicultural day at the office once a quarter. Please feel free to bring in a dish for the potluck.”

You may also wish to ask your staff, politely and in-person, if there are any work days they need off for certain events or traditions.

For your clients, keep a general awareness of what may or may not be offensive. If you deal with small, non-profit organizations, don’t flood them with invitations to fundraisers where the tables cost $1,000 each. If you deal with a shop specializing in Halal meat, don’t gift the staff a large pork roast for Christmas.

Other important types of ceremonies

A“ceremony” is not just a wedding, funeral or cultural event. It means any formal gathering to mark, observe, or celebrate an occasion. Your work culture should include ceremonies, as they reinforce your mission and values, and show your staff and clients that you pay attention to, and care about, the details.

Your ceremony does not have to be a big, flashy and expensive one. Just be sure to observe things like the milestone anniversaries of your staff (1-year, 5-year, 10-year, etc.). A presentation of a certificate and a thank you from the management in a meeting is a great way to say thanks. If your client has an acquisition, your assistant has a baby, or a supporter is retiring, send a card or flowers.  Have a protocol in place to celebrate the things that are important to others.

Stand on ceremony

The word ceremony is often overlooked and misunderstood, but it’s important for your business. Figure out what is important – outside of work – to you, your staff and your clients. Then create your own ceremonies to honour that.

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