Our youngest child finished high school this spring, and one of the West Michigan traditions that we observed was hosting a graduation open house. We actually observed a bunch of them since were invited to the open houses of all her friends! From Memorial Day weekend to the end of June we spent our Saturday and Sunday afternoons making the rounds to celebrate this milestone for her classmates. 

It may come as a surprise to some of you to learn that this is somewhat of a unique West Michigan tradition. If you have family or friends out east or down south you will find that hosting an open house for your graduate is a foreign idea. It is part of what makes West Michigan unique.

Open houses are a great opportunity to showcase and celebrate the meaningful things that have been a part of a student’s life. There are often picture boards, awards, photo albums, and memorabilia on display. Even for the kids we know really well, going to these open houses helped us to have a much clearer picture of their lives and values.

One great idea that has been successfully used by organizations to communicate vision as well as build great teams is to host an open house for their company or their department. (Yes, this often involves food, and no, most of the time people do not bring gifts!). Team members invite spouses, significant others, children, grandparents, neighbors, and friends into a really significant part of their lives. 

It is an incredible way to build pride and promote purpose and to let your team feel important. This is a relaxed and fun time for people to say things like: “Here is where I work” and “See what I do” and “Let me share with you what we do and why it is important.”

It doesn’t just have to be family and friends that you invite. This kind of company or department open house can be a place to invite customers, suppliers, and vendors.  And just like graduation open houses, these kinds of open houses are a great venue to showcase and celebrate the meaningful things that are a part of work life through awards, photo albums, and tours. This also provides for some great relationship building and networking for those who may not know each other.

What would an open house look like for your department? How could this make for a great opportunity for you to cast vision, and promote your purpose and values? Who would be important stake holders and other relationships to be included in invitations? What could you do to make this a really fun and proud time for your team?

Some of us as alumni are from organizations that have hosted a chapter of LEAD 365 for a day. Through that we have already had a taste of this experience of inviting guests in something of an open house. 

Yes, open houses are a somewhat unique feature of West Michigan. So is the caliber of leaders in our area. Thanks for helping develop West Michigan into the Silicon Valley of leadership. If an open house would help you and your team to do this, consider planning a first one of these. We’d be glad to help!

Lead on,

Image by David Siglin on Unsplash.