Celebrate Success – Catching people doing things right is more effective than catching them doing things wrong. Regularly give, receive and ask for meaningful acknowledgement and appreciation – in all directions throughout the company.

Recognize Success

We celebrate people on numerous occasions: congratulating them on birthdays, weddings, baby showers and so much more.  But do you remember to take the time to celebrate your hard-working team?  Do you commend their efforts towards achieving milestones?  Let’s not forget that a company’s greatest resource is it’s employees. Without them very little would be achieved.  While some may wonder why you have to celebrate someone for simply doing their job, remember that it’s so much more than that. Systems of recognition and rewards help maintain a culture of motivation, unity, and satisfaction – and satisfied employees are happier, more loyal and hard-working than their unsatisfied counterparts.

When your team experiences a success, what do you do?  Do you brush over these wins, automatically working toward the next goal without an acknowledgement of what has been achieved?  Do you share a quick “congratulations” or “good job” and then tell them to get back to work?  In our non-stop, 24-7 world, it’s all too easy to place immediate focus on your next task at hand and forget to stop and reflect on what’s been accomplished. But if you ignore the wins of your team, you miss a vital opportunity, not only to inspire them on to even greater successes, but to strengthen your own personal brand of leadership in the process.

Why is it important to work on your leadership skills?

  • Your personal brand of leadership is defined by the way others perceive, think, and feel about you as a leader. This perception can make or break your success.
  • It impacts your image, your reputation, your relationships, and your performance.  As a result, it will also impact your overall career.

So, if you gloss over your team’s successes without recognition, what does that say about you as a leader?  How do you think employees perceive, think, and feel about a leader when their efforts go unappreciated?  Those perceptions also reflect on the company as a whole, and that kind of downward spiral can mean losing some of your best team members.

Most people feel more energized, motivated, and uplifted when they’re given meaningful acknowledgement and appreciation.  It’s important that we distinguish meaningful from meaningless appreciation.  Meaningless appreciation (the culture of everyone wins a trophy) is counterproductive.  It promotes mediocrity rather than high performance.

Meaningful acknowledgement and appreciation has 4 components:

  • It’s always honest
  • It’s timely
  • It’s specific
  • It states the impact of what was done

The more specific you are in what you’re acknowledging, the more likely the person is to understand and repeat that behavior.  Meaningful acknowledgement and appreciation should happen in all directions – peer to peer, manager to direct report, direct report to manager. It’s important to learn how to gracefully receive acknowledgement with a simple “Thank you.”

Celebrate Mistakes

Yes, that’s right, I said celebrate our mistakes. I’ve long argued that we should celebrate success at work, but we should also celebrate mistakes, failure and fiascoes. I don’t mean that we should throw a party but we do need to openly discuss mistakes, mishaps, blunders etc. in a group setting without fear of reprisal.

This is not soft or wishy-washy, it is a great way to handle mistakes in a business. Rather than stigmatizing failure, we should acknowledge and even celebrate it.

Here are the top 5 reasons why this is a good idea.

  1. When you celebrate mistakes, you learn more from the mistakes you make. It is how we improve.
  2. You don’t have to waste time on CYA (Cover Your Butt). Huge amounts of time and energy can be wasted on explaining why the mistakes that do happen are not my fault. This is pointless.
  3. When mistakes are celebrated, you strengthen creativity and innovation.
  4. Failure often opens new doors. Also, failure is often the path to new, exciting opportunities that wouldn’t have appeared otherwise. Closing your eyes to failure means closing your eyes to these opportunities.
  5. When you celebrate mistakes, and get to the root cause, you make fewer mistakes in the future, or at least don’t repeat the previous ones.

Celebrate Small Successes

Why you should celebrate small successes?  First, it is essential to note that a success doesn’t have to be a major achievement. Even small progress towards a distant goal counts as a success. Too many everyday successes are overlooked or forgotten and never properly celebrated.  Second, celebrating a small success doesn’t require a party or other reward. Merely recognizing that we are making progress and not just failing should be enough.

Setting goals and success in achieving goals are arguably the root of personal development. You have set out to accomplish something, and the principles of personal development are designed to help you achieve your goal more efficiently and effectively. However, sometimes we set fairly lofty goals, and while we are taking action towards those goals it seems as though very little progress is being made. For example, if you have 100 things that need to be done in order to accomplish a goal, and you have 10 of those things done, then it’s likely you feel that 90% of the steps to accomplishing this goal need to still be taken. However, there is a slight problem with this perspective towards success. You are always focused on what you haven’t accomplished.

Success is largely about having a certain state of mind–a “success” mind set. One success leads to another and then the snowball effect goes to work. By celebrating smaller successes you are actually starting to communicate that attitude of “I have already succeeded” or “I am successful” to your mind. As a result you will accelerate the process of accomplishing your goals because you are coming from a place of already being successful rather than trying to become successful.

Checklist for Giving Credit

You might wonder why you should bother to bolster your team members’ self-esteem. After all, aren’t they just doing what’s expected of them? Sport shows us that confident teams don’t usually “rest on their laurels.” Instead, they want and expect more success, and go on performing well. That pattern is just as clear in the workplace, so acknowledging and celebrating achievement is part of building a high performance team.

In conclusion, here are three things to help you remember how to celebrate and be grateful:

1) Your gratitude should be genuine and tied to no expectations. You’ll receive benefits from acknowledging others, however, you’ll save yourself a headache (and some cases heartache) if you’re grateful with no expectations.

2) It is not always people you will thank. I believe inspiration can come from others and should be acknowledged, and I also believe in original ideas. Sometimes you may pull inspiration from or come up with an idea after taking a walk or driving home from work.  Maybe listening to your favorite song, being rejuvenated or resting.  Give the experience some gratitude!

3) What if you forget to thank someone? Do it when you remember.


Don’t be afraid to give people credit. Don’t be afraid to accept it. As the wise Anonymous once said, “Encouraged people acheive the best; dominated people acheive the second best; neglected people acheive the least.” We all deserve to give and receive recognition and praise.