According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts. If there are more negative thoughts happening for us to repeat, then it stands to reason that we will spend longer thinking negatively than we do positively.

So, taking these findings one step further, it would appear the art of celebrating success does not come easy to us. 

I felt that I was constantly gravitating towards the negative a few years ago and, while I must admit to still having moments when negativity takes over, I have largely learned how to readjust my thinking and, as a famous singer once sang, “Always look on the bright side of life”. (Eric Idle – 1989) This is not an easy thing to do, especially when it comes to thinking about your colleagues, your team, or the clients you are working with. Here are a few thoughts on the subject. 

What does it mean to celebrate success? 

What motivates you? What motivates your team? How have you been celebrating success in your working life so far? These are all questions that need answering before true celebrations of success can begin. Celebrating success is a systematic view of the different values and personal motivation factors that drive individuals/teams to increase performance. It helps us recognise teams and individuals that have performed well and to join them in rejoicing and taking pride in their achievements. 

A contact centre client I have previously worked work stated that they had never recognised performance because that was not how it was done and wondered why there was such a high turnover of employees.  After just 4 months, coaching and restoring morale, employee retention was increased by 58% and productivity had risen by 38% on a daily average.  Due to the higher engagement, employees were now keen to improve the business and this led to being a finalist in Employee Engagement Awards for Best use of Technology in 2017.  

I look at celebrating success as a key motivational tool. This has received some criticism in the past, with clients asking me, “why should we reward or recognise people just for doing their jobs?” My reply to that is always that if you are recognising people’s achievements correctly, you would not need to spend money on me coming into help increase your team’s performance and motivation. A little praise goes a long way. Simple recognition of a job well done will gain the following benefits: 

  • Reinforcement of good behaviours and reduction of unwanted behaviours 
  • Motivation for teams and individuals to continue working on improving their performance 
  • Public recognition of strong performances and tangible rewards for teams and individuals for their hard work 
  • A stronger sense of team spirit, sense of fun and comradeship in the workplace 

How to do it right? 

When it comes to celebrating success at work, the key thing to remember is that everyone is individual. We all have different ways in which we like to be rewarded and recognised for our efforts. Some people like to be paraded in front of everyone with bells and whistles, while others will prefer a quiet, genuine “well done”. While some people dream of a 50ft super yacht as a reward, others will be satisfied with the feeling of excelled at what they were entrusted to do.  

It is all about knowing how the people in your team react to praise and how to celebrate their success in a way that works for them. Knowing what motivates people, and what does not really help us to avoid awkward situations, such as handing over a bottle of champagne as a reward to someone who does not drink – this has happened on many occasions in businesses I have been in, so I am always quick to find out what makes people tick. Some useful tips to remember when seeking to celebrate someone’s success include: 

  • Mix it up – introduce a blend of team and individual activities to help everyone celebrate success, formally and informally 
  • Recognise both good behaviours and results – in a timely and appropriate manner 
  • Innovate – continually look for innovative ways to celebrate success  
  • Motivate – understand what motivates the individuals in your team and match the ‘size of the prize’ to the achievement and the person’s own preferences 

While it is true that successful individuals/teams are often just ‘doing their job’, it is no less impressive that they have achieved success in what can be challenging circumstances. By adding positive reinforcement to the many effective behaviours that they have built up to help them get the job done, you improve their performance while making them feel better about their work and better disposed towards the wider team and company. Benefits of positive reinforcement include: 

  • Clearly defining and communicating expected behaviours  
  • Strengthening the connection between high performance and rewards 
  • Reinforcing behaviour straight away, promoting rapid understanding and learning 
  • Motivating effective workers to continue to work well 
  • Individuals who receive recognition for their achievements tend to be more enthusiastic about their work, more cooperative and more open to challenges and change. 

Is it too late? 

It’s never too late to celebrate success and even if someone is about to leave the business, rejoice in the successes that they have brought to the company so they leave on a good note and with positive feelings about the company. Start off in a small way if necessary and thank teams/individuals at the end of each day for a good job. 

If you need help working out how to celebrate success effectively within your business, get in contact with us at team@penmark.co.uk  

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