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A celebration is more than just an excuse for a party. It quite literally is taking a moment to pause and acknowledge the good. In high energy offices where to-do lists seem never ending and there is pressure to be a high performer, it’s likely teams are not taking the necessary time out of their busy schedules to appreciate their successes–however small they may seem. In the sales industry, securing a new client or increasing purchase orders is exciting for the individual responsible. But after this win, they are likely moving on to the next goal without reflecting on their great performance. Certain studies would even argue that high performers who don’t take a moment to celebrate a win are more likely to burn out.
Now is the time to change that–both on an individual level and as a company. While it may seem counterintuitive to take time away from achieving more goals, there’s sound evidence to show that even a brief pause to feel excited about an accomplishment can greatly improve a company and individual’s success.
Humans are naturally social beings. According to Psychology Today, our brains are wired in such a way that “the need for human contact is greater than the need for safety.” By acknowledging a job well done, employees feel like active participants in the company’s success; even if the celebration is as simple as playing a song (We Are The Champions, anyone?), this proverbial moment of silence acts as a motivational tool.
The evidence behind this is strong. While it is commonplace to assume that pressure and fear are natural motivators for someone, a 15-year study conducted by Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer proves otherwise. Part of their research includes a daily survey inquiring about “participants’ emotions and moods, motivation levels, and perceptions of the work environment that day, as well as what work they did and what events stood out in their minds.” Their findings suggest that employees are more successful when their “inner work lives” are happy. The study leverages these findings to give managers the tools to affect their team’s inner work lives, which in large part revolved around celebrating wins.
In an interview with Frank Gruber, Founder and CEO of Tech.Co, he, too, considers the inner work life or, more simply, the mental energy it takes to get a win. Often, employees are spending long hours at the office without breaks or time for self-care to achieve a particular win. He goes on to say that when you’re in a “let’s crush it” mode, “you can get tunnel vision and this is a way to come up for air.” The celebration at the end of a project or sale is what keeps team’s heads above water.
As much as a celebration is for the individual, it is also a meaningful way to connect to those around you. Happiness is a contagious feeling and our brains respond to social inclusivity with a shot of dopamine. This good mood is a shared experience among colleagues who thusly feel like their contributions are integral to a common success, giving them the courage to take more professional risks in achieving goals and to collaborate with other team members more frequently so they can continue to enjoy this mutual success. Knitting a support system of colleagues around wins is equally as beneficial when an individual or team fails to meet a goal.
In creating an environment where team members are pushing one another to do their best work, you’re also fostering a place for people to feel comforted in times of stagnation as well as a motivation to keep going. In his conversation with Verge, Gruber points out one company’s method of celebrating wins: making every Wednesday a Winsday. The idea around this is to designate a time each week for teams to come together and each share a win. Since everyone is required to share, it motivates people to enjoy one achievement each week because no one wants to be singled out for not having a win. Similarly, the frequency of these meetings holds managers accountable for timely celebrations.
It’s important to remain consistent and not simply celebrating when it’s most convenient because, as managers are acutely aware, there’s rarely a convenient time. A team is more likely to continue their success if their accomplishments are acknowledged in real time, according to Gruber.
With all the positive vibes and peer-to-peer back patting comes continued success, both internally and externally. The rush of happiness one feels when their accomplishments are acknowledged is not a feeling someone wants to go away. Employees ride the high of their success by creating more success. But this success isn’t just felt internally.
Landing a sale motivates that client to be more successful in their own business; increasing revenue gives investors the confidence to put more resources into a thriving company; improving on products and service is a success enjoyed by the company and the customer, who has a stake in the business’s success.
Gruber equates this mutually beneficial success to posting photos of food on Instagram: a person takes a photo of their food and shares it for others to enjoy and seek a similar feeling. Doing that with your business is the same–showing pride in you and your company’s success motivates others to improve and can even inspire a new crop of people who want to work with you.