Time to Celebrate?

by Kevin Eikenberry - Date: 2007-01-16 - Word Count: 732 Share This!

We celebrate all sorts of things in our lives; birthdays, anniversaries, championships achievements of all sorts. We celebrate all of these things individually or with our family and friends and they bring us great joy and satisfaction. We all like know "how" to celebrate, but many of us wonder about celebrations in our organizations and on our work teams.

If you read any book on teambuilding you will read about the virtues of celebrations. In my experience, team and organizational celebrations rarely live up to our individual - or non-work - celebrations. While there are many reasons why this might be, I believe the timing of celebrations is part of the reason.

Organizations tend to fall into one of two groups when it comes to celebrations: The "we-don't-celebrators" and the "we-celebrate-at-the-drop-of-the-hatters." Let's discuss each group's philosophy.

Why Celebrate?

There are a number of reasons why some teams and organizations don't place celebrations high on their priority list. Some of those reasons include:

- "We are too busy already, we don't have time to celebrate."

- "We are all adults, we don't need to celebrate."

- "People know what they have achieved, celebrations aren't necessary."

- "The only celebration our people care about is more money in their paycheck."

- "People know we appreciate their effort."

- "Teams can celebrate if they want to."

- "We don't know how we would celebrate."

There is truth in many of these comments, yet each of them falls short of describing the full situation. In short, just because people come to work, they are still people. When they have accomplished something they are proud of, a celebration of some sort is in order.

Before we go too far in our celebrations though, let's consider the other group of organizations and how they look at celebrations.

Why Not Celebrate?

This group has a very different view. They believe in the power of celebrations. They want people to feel recognized and yet, in many cases, their celebrations, while frequent, aren't all that effective. The reasons why include:

- Celebrating so often for things seen as small or insignificant, that the celebration loses its value.

- Celebrating when a team would rather move forward - so the celebration is a bother rather than a perk.

- Celebrating too soon.

- Celebrating because a leader read that "they should celebrate" - rather than because there is a genuine desire to celebrate.

- Celebrating in ways that may appeal to the leader, but not to those being honored.

Finding the Sweet Spot

Celebrations are a great thing for individual and organizational health and morale. And while they are valuable, as with many other things, too much of a good thing isn't necessarily good.

Our goal then should be to find the celebration sweet spot - the right balance of when and how to celebrate that will work best for your organization. Here are a few things to consider as you search for this balance.

Make it real. The reason for the celebration should be understood. If you haven't celebrated in a long time, you can find a small, but tangible reason to start.

Allow it to be spontaneous. It doesn't have to be a "big production." Buy a box of donuts and gather people for a quick recognition. Raise a coffee cup to success and your celebration may be complete!

Pick your spots. Don't call for a celebration when the workgroup has a big deadline, or some other issue is in their minds. If that happens, your celebration will be seen as a hindrance rather than a cause for happiness.

If you have read this as a leader, and realize how you can implement some of these ideas, great! If you have read this and think "I need to get my manager to read this", you're missing an opportunity (though you can still pass it on to others!). Remember that regardless of our place in the organization we can create celebrations. Admittedly the celebrations created as a front line employee might be different than those created by an executive, but that doesn't change their value.

If your organization typically falls into the "we-don't-celebrate-anything" category, I challenge you to find something to celebrate in your workplace in the coming days. If you generally fall into the "celebration-overload" category, I challenge you to look at your rationale and make sure you're celebrating the right things at the right times.

In either case, celebrations are a great thing - when done effectively. So I raise my coffee, well actually my tea, cup to you and say pass the donuts!

Related Tags: leadership, teamwork, professional development, kevin eikenberry, unleash your potential

Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. To receive your free special report on Unleashing Your Potential go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/uypw/index.asp or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.

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