My favorite hockey team was down by four goals. Suddenly, they put together an offensive rush and scored a goal. The team celebrated. I fumed. How dare they celebrate a goal when they still had so much work to do? Then I realized this backward thinking could quickly kill the culture in any organization. In fact, I immediately thought of three reasons to celebrate team wins.
Success Breeds Success
It takes a series of small wins to generate bigger ones. They add up, enabling a team to hit short-term goals, like quarterly goals, just on the horizon. And those quarterly goals add up to win a year.
Success around long-term goals depends on repeatedly doing little things well. Scoring a goal in a lopsided game won’t help a team win, but it gets the team back on track. They start making the adjustments necessary to achieve the larger objective.
Why Does Celebrating Matter?
Even when the odds seem insurmountable, the power of celebrating does three things for a team or an organization:
1. Acknowledging Successes Builds Trust Among a Team
I don’t know about you, but I learn more from adversity than success. Teams that overcome obstacles build trust with each other, and high-trust teams are high-functioning teams. Patrick Lencioni outlines this phenomenon in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
Team members who trust each other know their teammates will pull their weight. They willingly ask for help and accept it. They don’t waste energy worrying about backstabbers or office politicking.
2. Celebrations Telegraph the Right Behaviors
Nothing shapes behavior more than a specific and timely public recognition of a task completed or a metric hit. When someone accomplishes a task that moves the needle for the team or company, celebrating demonstrates what success looks like.
Want a team to build more widgets faster and with fewer errors? Celebrate the fastest widget builder and watch the other team members go.
Napoleon Bonaparte said, “No amount of money will induce someone to lay down their life. But they will gladly do so for a bit of yellow ribbon.”
3. Celebrations Build Employee Engagement
And engaged employees are sticky and productive.
When you let people know what success looks like, they have the guidance to make great decisions to continue to be successful. Engaged employees are more productive and less likely to leave a team or a company.
Words of affirmation tell an employee that you care. Great leaders know that authentically caring about their employees is the most important leadership quality.
So what impact does celebrating small successes have on a team? My favorite hockey team went from under .500 to the playoffs that year. All because they gained traction toward their goals with small wins.
So the next time you wish your organization had more success, thank a coworker and see what happens. If you want to gain even more traction in your organization, use the free EOS Vision/Traction Organizer™.