Milestone Parties: When Is the Last Time You Celebrated?

performance celebrations

Much has been written on how to motivate employees. There are all sorts of techniques from traditional change management to modern ideas such as gamification. So, what new insights could I possibly add to the topic? Actually, I’ve had a prime viewing seat to observe, firsthand, how companies motivate employees – as we help companies all over the world to improve performance management.

Sometimes it’s the simple things that are overlooked. It doesn’t have to be complicated. When is the last time you celebrated an achievement or milestone with your team?

I’ve noticed that some organizations get so focused on the big, long-term goals and targets they are trying to accomplish that they neglect to celebrate along the way. And sadly, many companies are using their performance management system to control and punish people/ divisions which do not meet their set targets. In other words, as a demotivator.

But there are some companies that engage in performance celebrations – they purposefully define and implement “celebration rules” as a part of the company’s performance management system. Recognition and celebrations are good morale boosters and contribute to a positive performance culture. Did you ever think about defining which events or what results are entitled to a celebration? You can celebrate important project milestones, deliverables, the completion of a strategic initiative, or progress on a KPI or key result.

Sometimes it is a long journey to your strategic destination. But if you break it down into “chunks” where you take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate strategic achievements along the way, people can see you are moving towards your goals and the positive energy from a celebration can motivate your team for the next stretch of the journey.

And did you know that a performance management system can be used to implement celebration rules? I know, it sounds odd, but as an example: We had a client set up a rule such that when a certain target level of performance is achieved, the system sends an email to the local baker and orders a cake for delivery and the system sends out invitations to the people responsible for achieving the target. It’s a simple example but an effective technique for this client.

I’ve seen, from experience, how much a good celebration can boost morale when a team is on a long journey to achieve some bold goals. Celebrations don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. At our office, we defined which results entitle us to ring a bell, give a cheer, put a score on a board, earn a team lunch. And for bigger milestones, we celebrate with epic ping-pong battles in our conference room.