“Let’s take the entire team out for lunch,” “let’s cut a cake for everyone born in the same month,” or “let’s drink together,” are a few but very popular ways to celebrate a special occasion in today’s corporate world. Great leaders have understood the power of celebrations for better work productivity. Kouzes and Posner’s famous leadership guide, The Leadership Challenge, has ‘celebrate often’ as one of the most important factors for leaders to be able to lead successfully.
Who doesn’t like appreciation and celebrations? Think about a time when someone appreciated your effort after a job well done. These little appreciations energize and encourage people to their core when their milestones are celebrated. Successful leaders never miss a chance to celebrate the small successes and to appreciate their people. But here’s food for thought for all the leaders: are your efforts touching people’s hearts? Are we really utilizing the opportunity to motivate someone through these celebrations? Do these celebrations make our people feel special? Are these celebrations fulfilling their main purpose?
Here are 5 questions that every leader must answer before planning a celebration.
At Sea World trainers make a 1-ton killer whale jump little over 3 feet above the surface. They achieve this daunting task by appreciating the whales (by offering the food they love) whenever they go over a rope placed under water. Trainers never fail to notice whenever a whale crosses that rope. Then, little by little they shift the rope that ultimately goes a few feet above water and they get those whales do the impossible.
Have you missed any act that is worth celebrating?
2. What Should We Celebrate?
What do you celebrate more often – results or effort? We often hear that we never fail: we always learn and grow even with unsuccessful attempts. So, what if a teammate puts forth exceptional effort to do his best and doesn’t get an immediate result? Can’t his effort alone be a reason to celebrate and set the right example for others? When in doubt, just think about the whale trainers of Sea World. Every appreciation has a snowball effect.
One of our clients in the power sector holds a huge workforce at their power plant. Their HR team does something really special to touch their employees’ hearts. On a birthday of every employee sharp at 8:00 am they send a bouquet of flowers along with a cake that has a personalized message highlighting the achievements of that person. This lovely gesture lets the entire family know how important the person is for the company. This one act is a sure fire way to make the employee feel good even before he or she reaches the office.
Last year, we had hectic official travel schedule and most of our team members were away from their families for a long stretch of back-to-back travel. When I returned home I received a warm hug from my partner. Of course it wasn’t the first time when I was hugged but that day there was something special in that. Later, I learned that my wife received a handwritten note from my director mentioning,
“Thank You Aarti, without your support and patience we wouldn’t have done this.”
This one gesture emotionally pushed me to give my best back to my organization.
Every celebration has a hidden message. These celebrations create magical memories, unforgettable stories, and reasons for people to be their best. This extraordinary feeling fizzes out when leaders try to deliver a direct message that reflects their transactional expectations. As a leader your job is to create an enchanted moment for your teammates and just leave them with that feeling. Have patience and you will see them paddling hard to give you the best in return.
Let’s create better and stronger individuals with each unique celebration!