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The importance of celebrating success

Blair McPherson - former Director, Author and Blogger

Brian Clough used to complain, football is not a world that ever lets you enjoy your successes. There is always another match , another season, another threat.  And so it is as a senior manager in a large complex organisation. There is always another budget round, another audit, another ambitious set of targets, another efficiency drive and another reorganisation.

However it’s important to celebrate success,  people respond positively to having their efforts recognised, teams feel valued and thus motivated to continue the effort. Celebrating success helps bond the team making it more likely they will support each other in their efforts to achieve further success.  And if there are set backs in the future the good memories around past successes will provide the confidence needed to persevere.

But senior managers in particular don’t always hit the right tone. It was the Christmas dinner and the mood was jolly. At the end of the meal the chief executive gave a speech in which he  a congratulated his senior management team on a very difficult but ultimately very successful year and then proceeded at great length to stress the difficulties that lay ahead and to tell everyone that we could not rest on our achievements as even more was expected of us next year. Thus successful sucking all the joy out of the room.

Reading a chief executive’s blog it sometimes feels like senior managers are just going through the motions not prepared to be too enthusiastic in case people get complacent they seem to think their employees  need reminding that there are more and bigger challenges/threats  ahead.

The same chief executive who gave the New Years message in his after dinner speech had read about the importance of “thank you” notes so after every workshop or conference he would send thank you notes to  individuals for their contribution. Somewhat devalued by the number, frequency and exact same wording.

In another organisation I worked in the style was very different. The champagne corks were popped. After many months and a concerted effort the organisation had achieved IIP status and the senior management team was marking the success. The boss felt it was very important to celebrate this success as it was a key mile stone in the organisation’s progress, involved a commitment from the whole senior management team and as a key objective in the business plan enhanced the teams credibility with the board. So we sipped a small glass of champagne and were thanked for the work of our staff. Then we sat down to plan the budget cuts. Because there is very little time in today’s frantic business world to enjoy your successes.

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