Wins are a key part of sustained productivity and personal satisfaction. Celebrating wins is even more important when you’re trying to keep your employees motivated, happy, and focused.
Of course, there is a very large spectrum of activities referred to as “celebrating.” Email shout-outs, employees of the month, and even winning prizes all fall under the wide umbrella of professional celebrations.
The question is, what is the most valuable way to celebrate a win on your team? How can you get the most out of your celebratory activities? Here are a few suggestions to help you take your team’s celebrations to the next level.
1. Start with the Right Mindset
When celebrating a win, it’s important to focus on highlighting value rather than pampering emotions. Celebrations too often become fixated on emotional highs. Instead, gear them toward bringing out the best in people.
Jason Jaggard, CEO of the executive coaching firm Novus Global, put it best when he said that “the primary purpose of valuing people is not to make them feel something, but to make them unleash something.” The CEO is well-known for his ability to provide feedback that calls people forward rather than calling them out.
Jaggard’s point is as applicable in times of celebration as it is in times of performance review or feedback. It’s important to differentiate between gifts designed to make a person feel good versus giving them things that actually honor them and serve them in their capacity to bring value to themselves and others. That doesn’t mean you can’t provide a gift or a physical reward for a job well done. On the contrary, a well-placed gift card or bonus can speak volumes. However, you don’t want the celebrations to stop with a dollar sign.
Whatever you do to celebrate a win, you must consider the genuine value that it is providing to your team. Sugar-coated celebrations can only get you so far. Purposeful praise, however, can serve to motivate your team. It fills them with pride and spurs them to strive to emulate the same behaviors in the future.
2. Help Your Team Accept Praise
Along with a value mindset, Jaggard goes on to point out the critical way that his team delivers positive feedback. After giving encouraging words about a performance or another celebratory remark, they ask the recipient if, well, they received the praise.
This focus on healthy self-affection is a crucial step in a successful commemoration of success. It ensures that acknowledgment isn’t lost on those to whom it is bestowed. Instead, it helps your team members truly accept that they have, indeed, accomplished something special.
Don’t make your celebrations a group-focused spectacle that takes place at the expense of individual achievement. Instead, make sure to deliver each piece of positive feedback in a distinct and purposeful manner. Follow up and make sure that each member of your team fully understands what it is that you are celebrating.
CEO of Personiv, David Lesniak, shares a similar vision. He suggests that while it’s important to individualize the celebrations on your team, involving the entire group in recognizing achievements is a key aspect in maintaining good work culture.
As they begin to associate their accomplishments with a positive understanding of their abilities, it will pave the way for future success.
3. Choose Constructive Rewards
Why is it the case that if a child eats a good dinner, we reward them with dessert? In a scientific culture where the inherent value of healthy food is well-established, why do we reward with the unhealthy?
We could say the same thing about celebrations at work. Why so we reward a job well done with pizza, an unimportant parking space, or a flash-in-the-pan party?
Instead, look for constructive celebrations that provide a unique and engaging sense of empowerment. For example, you can recognize successful colleagues in impactful ways by:
- Providing monetary compensation through a raise or bonus for a job well done.
- Recognizing individual achievement in a public forum through verbal praise, an employee of the month award, or other group recognition tactics.
- Giving unique and special responsibilities, such as the leadership of a project or a chance to travel on a coveted business trip.
The best celebrations are those that emphasize the connection between good work and perpetuated success. They show both gratitude for past achievements and an investment in a future repetition of that success.
The concept of “celebrating a win” is a classic workplace activity. However, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds when going about recognizing a past victory for your team. Shallow material rewards can become focal points while the recognition of value in and of itself slips into the background.
It’s important to resist this tendency by approaching your celebrations with a constructive, forward-thinking mindset. Consider ways to highlight the genuine value of your team members. Encourage them to accept your deliberate and thoughtful praise. Offer them rewards that reinforce a connection between success on the job and the furthering of their careers.
Try to saturate your celebrations with purpose. If you can do this, they will become more than one-time flings geared toward shallow commemorations. Instead, each celebration will become a meaningful, constructive opportunity to reinforce desired behavior. It can even go further by cultivating a motivation throughout your team to perpetuate the acknowledged success in the future.