July 4, 2016

Team Essentials Part 1 – Celebration


Last week’s blog introduced a series of posts on five essential skills for building a strong, healthy, fulfilling team. At the top of the list is celebration.

I live in Georgia, and summertime in Georgia is hot! One morning last week, I went outside to check on the flowers my wife has on our front porch. They had not been watered for a couple of days, and it showed. The leaves were drooping, the colors on the petals were muted, and the soil was dry and hard. Though still alive, the flowers were in bad shape. Unfortunately, this can often also be the case for teams; functioning day to day but lacking the vibrant life that brings fulfillment and lasting results.

That same morning, I watered the flowers generously and went about my day. A bit later I walked by and was somewhat surprised to see a complete transformation. Leaves that were low and listless just a few hours before were now green and crisp. The colors of the petals were vivid and bright. The flowers were thriving because water brings life. For teams, celebration and encouragement (next week’s topic) have the same effect, and the transformation can be just as dramatic.

Celebration shows appreciation. It acknowledges, out loud, the value found in people, and people need to feel valued. Celebration brings life.

Here are four tips to consider as you think about elevating the role of celebration in your team:

  1. Celebrate big and small accomplishments – Recognizing the completion of projects, the achievement of goals, and the accomplishment of major milestones is important. It provides the much needed opportunity to reflect on a job well done and make much of those who put in the hard work. And, it’s fun! At the same time, don’t underestimate the value of taking time to celebrate the small steps along the way. Big accomplishments are built on small accomplishments and both should be celebrated.
  2. Celebrate who people are, not just what they do – Celebrating who people are helps them feel known and appreciated for their intrinsic value and unique set of strengths, not just the tasks they complete. In addition to communicating to the individual that he/she is valuable, celebrating who people are builds community in the team. It requires team members to get to know one another more deeply. True community is a secret sauce that can exponentially improve results and increase the level of fulfillment.
  3. Schedule opportunities to celebrate – While celebrating is as important to the life of a team as water is to the life of a plant, its value may not always seem as obvious. So, it is important to schedule time to celebrate.  Build it into the project plan.  Reserve a time slot at each staff meeting.  Schedule a birthday breakfast once a month. Plan for it, or it is not likely to happen.
  4. Celebration doesn’t have to be expensive and time consuming – There is a time for the big blowout, and allocating time and money to celebration lets the team know it is important. But, don’t let the assumption that celebrating must be a major event prevent you from incorporating this practice into your team. Oftentimes a box of doughnuts, team lunch, or moment of recognition is all it takes.

Think about your team. Is celebration a common practice? When was the last time something you did was celebrated at work?  When was the last time you celebrated someone else? This week, I challenge you to find something or someone to celebrate.  Have fun!

by Rusty Chadwick

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