Celebrate small wins to get through the day

By Afeef Hussain

Years ago, I had an opportunity to consult and guide a company to elevate its human capital development strategies.

One of the conversations was how employees could give honest and open feedback. I enquired about their current systems; mostly, it was through a feedback box, which was placed at one of their team facilities building.

After my first discussions, we took a walk through the building, and I asked their HRM to open the box; what we found were dead spiders and cockroaches and a few pieces of paper. I wasn’t surprised, though the HRM was shocked and gave a grim look to his assistant.

After the walkthrough, I said that the first thing we needed to do was to remove that ‘feedback box’; throw it in the dustbin. No one is going to give you any feedback through that box.

Next day, during their town hall, I let the HRM announce that if their employees have any feedback or want to improve service, they can visit the HR Office or speak to them directly. The announcement came more of as an invitation and hope. They also formed an employee committee, with representatives from each department.

Following this development, in the year’s employee engagement index; on the attribute of open feedback sharing mechanisms, they achieved 80 per cent vs. below 60 per cent the previous years. I remember having a conversation about post-survey feedback, the importance of celebrating small wins; in this case, to remove that feedback box!

Often what we see in many organisations is that we wait for the monthly town hall or gathering to celebrate and announce all the wins during the past 30 days or more. By then, it would already be late, and some of those achievements would have been outdated.

Great companies make outstanding achievements in creating a culture of celebration. Celebration brings momentum and increases the speed of organisational performance. It creates profound energy, and everyone feels appreciated and recognised.

Late Jack Welch, former CEO & Chairman of General Electric, was considered an extraordinary leader when it comes to workplace celebration. He emphasised a lot on making small victories big victories by celebrating them on the spot and making a big deal about it.

When I used to manage a volleyball team, we would lose every now and then, and most of the time we would be defeated by a team that we never expected. During debriefing sessions after these matches, we would start with a conversation on, “Let’s discuss what we did well”. I remember, when we began that conversation, all players felt energetic and got involved in the conversation. Post-match action plan became quite a teamwork.

Here are a couple of ways you can create a culture of celebration within your teams. Do these daily; every day, 365 days!

Instant recognition programmes

Many companies are good at conducting monthly town hall events and make a big deal about it; that’s all right and should be continued.

Often times, what’s missing is the practice of instant recognition. Instant recognition could be a small handwritten note, an email, a pat on the back, face-to-face conversations following an achievement or reaching a target, internally created “star cards” or “good job cards”.

One of the great attributes of exceptional leaders is they instantly recognise their employees, regardless of the moment or situation.

Daily messages of inspiration

Be consistent in your daily messages of communication. Communicate organisational values daily. Share notes of motivation to inspire your people.

These are steps you can take to create a culture of celebration. Encourage your teams to post inspirational messages, stories to your internal communication platforms. When they share, be the first one to like it and comment.

In October 2019, I had an opportunity to visit the PIKE Place Fish Market in Seattle, USA, (the world famous Pike Place FISH CO, where FISH! philosophy story was created). They use their daily team huddle by asking a question from everyone, “What did you do yesterday to make our customers happy?” With that, everyone will share few seconds of customer stories and feedback. Those stories would be celebrated during the day.

Recognise and share stories of employees

Successful stories of your employees, as well as feedback shared by your customers should always be shared on the spot. Make it a habit to spread these messages daily. Post them to your social media platforms and have your employees and brand ambassadors share them.

Create and engage a culture where everyone in your organisation is encouraged to ask for positive feedback or ways to improve.

Use digital platforms to recognise

You can create a digital notice board or use any e-platforms to communicate with your employees daily.

If your team hit the daily sales target, celebrate it and give a virtual pat on the back to everyone in your organisation. This can be done through your digital platforms. Workplace by Facebook, Yammer, Beekeeper, or StaffConnect is popularly used around the world. If you cannot afford one of these, create a WhatsApp group within your team and use it as a messaging platform.

What matters is not what you use; it’s how you use it.

Imagine, towards the end of the day, your employees receive a message from you stating how appreciative you are of them for their work and achieving the daily sales or target for the day. There is no doubt that in a culture like this, your employees will put 120 per cent effort the next day!

You can apply the same at a personal level. Celebrate every victory. Feel good when someone compliments you. Have the habit of putting together all the small victories to make one big victory. If you celebrate small wins daily, you will build a level of energy that will help you to get through the day.

Remember, no one is going to do it for you; you have to do it.

Be an encourager. Be someone who lifts the spirit of others by celebrating small victories. That’s what we need more in our community.

What are you doing today to celebrate small wins?

Note: Afeef Hussein is the Regional Director of Training, Development and Quality Assurance at LUX* Resorts & Hotels. He also serves as the President of Maldives Association of HR Professionals (MAHRP), and is an intentionally certified and recognised keynote speaker and coach.

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