In this season of unlimited celebrations, and all the good feelings that accompany them, I often wonder why we limit our celebrations the rest of the year.
I like a good celebration—birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births and graduations are all great occasions to celebrate. It's wonderful to gather family and friends and share the joy.
What about the people you work with—don't they like to celebrate too? We spend about a third of our time with these folks, yet most companies provide little time to celebrate small accomplishments or major victories. That's a big mistake in my opinion. Work shouldn't be a joyless part of life: it should be a place where we can be excited, enthusiastic and passionate about what we do.
Why celebrate at work? First, it creates camaraderie, and that is essential to teamwork. Second, a celebration recognizes and commemorates something worthwhile or important. Third, a celebration can reward an individual or team for the good work they've done. And fourth, it is just plain fun. Fun not only makes the workplace more enjoyable, it raises energy levels as well.
Most companies don't celebrate enough when times are good. They definitely don't celebrate enough when times are tough. With budget cuts and belt-tightening, lots of good things disappear. I can make a good case that celebrating during the difficult times might be even more important.
Celebrating individual success proves how much you value the person. I've yet to work with a company where employees told me the company celebrated them too much. More often I get the comment that "...no matter how hard we work, no one seems to notice."
Organizational success needs to be celebrated. Business is off 30 percent this year? Maybe you should celebrate that it isn't off 50 percent! I am pretty sure that the downturn your company is experiencing isn't your fault, or the fault of your employees, so why not celebrate that you're still standing?
Bolstering morale is even more important when the chips are down. It can't hurt for people to feel better about themselves and where they work. And they'll feel more optimistic about the challenges and travails of the times.
Here's a crash course in becoming a world-class celebrator:
1. Celebrate frequently. You're familiar with the old adage, "Life is short. Eat dessert first." I think we should also remember: "Life is short. Celebrate often."
2. Celebrate big and celebrate small. Most people are familiar with the expensive celebrations (off-sites, restaurants, sporting events, invite your spouse, etc.) How about the little celebrations? A Monday morning donut party can celebrate another week that you're open for business.
3. Celebrate creatively. Don't just think dollars (cost), think different (creative). Throwing money into a celebration won't necessarily make it a success, and in times like these, that probably isn't an option anyway. Instead, consider what little things you can do to note, recognize and reward individual and team success. Start with the basic 3Fs: food, fellowship and fun. How can you enhance each when you celebrate?
4. Involve others. Rotate who is in charge of celebrations. Don't get caught in a "party committee" trap like the television show "The Office." Different people will bring different perspectives on how to celebrate.
5. Don't worry. Some celebrations will be silly, a little goofy or imperfect. So what? I'd rather be occasionally silly than permanently rigid. While I am a big believer in results, celebrations are a good example of how intentions can sometimes be as important as the outcomes they create. Most people will appreciate the intention behind a good celebration, even the imperfect and silly ones.
In his book TeamBuilt: Making Teamwork Work, my friend Mark Sanborn tells the story of a supervisor who threw a pizza party for her team after their company had hosted a huge recognition event for achieving outstanding results. He asked her why she had the smaller, informal party after the big gala. Her response was insightful. She said, "The big events won't keep happening. We'll keep doing great work that may or may not get recognized and celebrated in the future by upper management. It is my responsibility as a leader to always celebrate my team's success."
Mackay's Moral: Finding a reason to celebrate isn't hard work—hard work is a reason to celebrate!