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Want highly-motivated employees? Celebrate successes often and unexpectedly

Continuing in our series of video blogs on specific actions leaders can take to create highly-motivated employees, my strategy last week was very specific: offer genuine and sincere (S-S-I) praise.  Today’s tip is simple: celebrate successes frequently and unexpectedly.

Celebrate successes frequently and unexpectedly

This is actually a very powerful motivator, mainly because it’s so rare.  It’s been my experience that in organizations, we don’t stop and take the time to celebrate.  We do good work, we accomplish great things, but then we’re so busy moving on the next thing on our to-do list that we don’t stop to celebrate what we have already done.  And because this happens so rarely, it becomes a very powerful way to create highly-motivated and highly-engaged employees.  So celebrate often and celebrate unexpectedly.

“Unexpected” bumps up the motivational value

Let me talk about “unexpectedly’ a little further, because it is important.  This is best explained with a quick example.  In my past career in a large multinational organization, before I started the Turning Managers Into Leaders consultancy, I once managed a small accounting department.  One month, we went through a particularly difficult month-end process, with my staff working long hours in the days and nights coming up to the final cut-off.  The cut-off was on a Thursday at noon, and as I walked down the hallways at five minutes after noon, my staff looked particularly shell-shocked as they logged out of our mainframe system.  Most of them were slouched in their chairs, some were rubbing their eyes, as I walked down the hallway.

“Okay everyone,” I hollered.  “Grab your coats and let’s go.  C’mon, c’mon, let’s go.”  They complained good-naturedly, asking where I was taking them, as they shrugged on their coats.  I herded them all out of the building and we walked two blocks to a nearby movie theater.  As they walked in the building I handed them a ticket to their choice of the two matinees and a voucher for popcorn and snacks.  Their jaws dropped and for the first few minutes they didn’t believe me.  “Movies, really?” they asked.  Eventually they all went into their movie of choice, and enjoyed popcorn and other snacks.  But perhaps most important thing was that they talked about this for weeks and months, and even years.  Not only was I celebrating their hard work and effort, but because the celebration was unexpected, it had even greater value.

So how are you celebrating successes in your workplace?  I would love to hear about what you’ve done, even better if it’s often and unexpectedly.  Please share by commenting below.

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