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Time to celebrate accomplishments

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Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed. — Mia Hamm


Most of us have a love/hate relationship with meetings. We know that most of them are necessary, but that doesn’t make them any more fun.

I have advised many businesses on how to improve this situation. One step is both easy and effective. That is, state ahead of time what type of meeting it is. Is it a meeting to solve a problem, or to create a plan? Is it a reporting meeting, or a meeting to reprimand poor performance?

While this simple step is a good idea for any organization, doing so oftentimes reveals a kind of meeting we rarely if ever have, but one that we should have regularly. It is a meeting to celebrate.

OK, maybe you wouldn’t call it a meeting; maybe it’s a gathering, or a party. But the point is, organizations rarely celebrate enough.

Theory holds that for every one time we kick somebody in the backside, figuratively, we should pat them on the back five times. Most people spend too much time on one or the other of these. But most organizations simply do not celebrate enough.

For one thing, a pat on the back might occur in a one-on-one conversation, but a celebration should occur as a group. Celebrating should be a team event. People need positive feedback, and a celebration is a way of illustrating what performance is desired and to congratulate group performance. It is a powerful form of positive reinforcement.

Celebrations need not be fancy, or expensive, or long. They can be as simple as healthy snacks at break time, or a giant thank you card made out of tag board attached to the wall of the break room.

I have been mightily impressed with the creative excuses people give not to celebrate. “Oh they really don’t care.” “Not everyone was part of the success, why should they be part of the celebration?” “They’re just doing their job, why should I spend money to thank them for that?”

Such thinking uses ill-founded logic and fails to recognize the roles we play not only as managers and leaders, but also as human beings.

Celebrations make people feel good about their job. It makes them want to be a part of the team and to improve the team’s performance. Even individuals that did not play a key role in the success that is being celebrated will want to perform all the better the next time. If they do not, clearly there is another problem that should be addressed through a formal performance valuation.

Celebrations make people want to work with you. It promotes positive thoughts and conversations. Celebrations help team members want to do more and more. And they help us all to feel just a little more human.

Some examples of things to celebrate:

  • An employee’s employment anniversary, particularly 5, 10 or 20 years
  • Hitting a monthly goal
  • The release of a new product or service
  • Hitting a production or sales goal
  • The completion of important training
  • When a team or individual went above and beyond; where they exemplified company values
  • Praise from a customer
  • A big order.

When asked why a manager doesn’t hold celebrations more often, a common answer is simply, “I forget.” Form a habit of watching for things to celebrate. Enlist the help of someone that might be better at watching for celebration-worthy developments. Set a budget for celebrations, and have this be one expense when it is a problem if it is NOT spent!


Dave Bartholomew is the founder of Ascent Advising LLC, working with “corner office” people around the globe to define and achieve their unique definition of success. He and is wife, Nancy, co-founded Simply Living Farm, a shop in Leavenworth providing goods for a sustainable life. He can be reached at Dave@AscentAdvising.com.