8 Reasons You Should Grab The Celebration Bull By The Horns

bull

There’s a pretty good chance that your workplace is negative.

Based on findings from the 2014 Towers Watson Global Workforce Study, 24% of employees are disengaged.  Another 36% can be described as either unsupported or detached.   That means that 6 out of every 10 employees lack the elements required to be highly engaged.

One key to boosting engagement is celebration and appreciation.  The research firm OC Tanner  has found that lack of appreciation is the number one reason people leave jobs (78%).  On the flip side, they also found that appreciation is the number one thing (37%) people say causes them to do great work.

In an ideal world, you’d have leaders and bosses who get it – who get how important celebration and appreciation is.  But if they don’t (and many don’t), why wait for it?  Why not grab the celebration bull by the horns?

Consider the case of Jane.  Jane is a project manager in a mid-size consulting company. Jane managed a major engagement with one of her firm’s largest clients.  The size and scope were massive–30 live events run in 10 cities for 2000 people, delivered in just over a month.  Each event had custom components that had to be tailor-managed.  The client continued to make revisions right through the first week of deployment, and in order to keep the planes flying smoothly, Jane was putting in 70 hour workweeks.

The project ran without a single major problem.  The client and their 2000 people were thrilled.

When the project ended, Jane hoped that the partners in her firm would stop and celebrate the work done by the team: about 30 people in total.  While Jane had influence with the team, she had zero authority.  None of these 30 people reported to her.   Which senior person would stop and recognize their accomplishment?

Jane quickly realized (based on past experience) that no one was going to fill the vacuum.  So she sent out an email to the entire team:

Dear Team,

Today marks the end of our project!  

Kudos to everyone involved on the experience.

Thank you to each of you for being so strong in your role.  As we all know, there were lots of updates and things to learn on this project.  Together, each working expertly within our roles, we accomplished the goal that makes a huge difference to our client.   I’m so relieved everyone on our team made it their assigned sessions and that each event and delivery has received rave reviews.

Here’s to working as a team.  It’s an honor to work with each of you,

Jane

Jane’s email started a “reply-all love-fest” that everyone got involved in.  The positive energy was infectious.  One member of the team was so inspired by Jane that he wrote an email to the entire firm, providing context and details so the larger company could also join in the celebration.  In that email, he singled out Jane for her superb leadership and going above and beyond the call of duty.

In speaking with Jane afterward, she told me:

I could get upset about the fact that our team wasn’t being recognized the way I wanted it to–or I could do something about it.  This experience taught me that I have a lot more power than I realize.  

It’s easy in a company to think that “They” should see this, and “They” should recognize the good work being done.  Ideally, yes “They” should.  But who exactly is “They”?  Those “They” are often overworked, stressed out leaders who are fallible humans.  If they don’t celebrate with you, what stops you from getting the party started without them?

If you grab the celebration bull by the horns, here are some of the benefits:

  1. It motivates you colleagues (and yourself) to keep doing good work.
  2. Reminds the team that we do in fact win.
  3. Focuses on a positive story (what’s working) vs. a negative one (what’s broken).
  4. Helps the team to rally around a common goal.
  5. Reminds people of the big picture as to why you do what you do.
  6. Opportunity to connect with colleagues outside of “task-mode”
  7. Build energy for you and your team towards the next project/milestone.
  8. Initiating recognition and celebration are hallmark leadership qualities. When you do this, you build up your personal “leadership brand”.

What have you done to celebrate in a culture that might otherwise skip over recognition? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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