Let the Celebration Begin
Tom stopped by Sally’s office about fifteen minutes before the celebratory luncheon. He felt it was really important for the team to see Sally at this special milestone celebration. The team had reached an important half-way point in a critical company-wide project.
“Sally, would you like to walk to the luncheon with me?” Tom asked as he poked his head in Sally’s office door. “What luncheon?” Sally asked as she looked up from the stack of reports that covered her desk. Truthfully Tom was not surprised that Sally had forgotten the celebration. Well actually he suspected she was pretending to forget the celebration. Either way, her behavior was not a surprise. Sally had really taken some convincing to allocate some project funds for this special team celebration. Her comments about the celebration included:
- “What are we celebrating for, we are not finished YET.”
- “If we let the team celebrate now, they will slack off.”
- “If we celebrate now and the rest of the project does not go well, can we ask them for lunch back?” (She was only half joking.)
Sally was not initially onboard with the idea of celebrating a milestone. She was not really in favor of an end of project celebration either. Her style was more along the lines of “you did your job, now get back to work.” Tom was able to win over by showing her articles from the Harvard Business Review and other publications Sally trusted to help reinforce the business value of showing teams’ recognition and appreciation.
It really was good for the team that Tom was on their side. He understood that most team members become more engaged when they feel like they are part of something that matters. Celebrating progress and achievements is a way of showing the team that their contributions are important. Ignoring accomplishments like Sally wants to do is dangerous to team morale. If Sally is allowed to consistently ignore team accomplishments and continue on with that “you did your job now get back to work” attitude, there is a significant risk that many team members will lose their motivation. In fact that loss of motivation could become contagious.
Sally would have been dismayed if she understood the degree to which Tom worked to keep team morale high. He did not just encourage big celebrations like this milestone celebration luncheon. Tom also celebrated some of the small events. When there was a week where all tasks were completed on time, he celebrated with a special treat. Sometimes he brought in bagels and sometimes he left everyone a quick “Way to go” voicemail. When part of the team resolved a difficult issue, Tom found a way to celebrate. After the team had been working together for 90 days he held a ‘Happy 90 Day Anniversary’ ice cream party for the team.
None of the team accused Tom of being silly. He took his sincere appreciation for his team of skilled professionals and turned it into many small (and some big) celebrations. In doing so he gave them a positive and rewarding work environment. While Sally might say, “your celebration is payday”; Tom would say “Let the celebration begin!”
Posted: August 20th, 2012 under Job Performance, Leadership, Professional development.
Tags: celebrate milestones, celebrate with your team, employee appreciation, get back to work, let your employees celebrate
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