Celebrate Wins

Playing sports growing up and coaching teams has prepared me for business life. Athletics teaches people to set and achieve goals. If you want something, you need to work hard and be a team player. It also reminds us that sometimes you are the leader, but other times you play a supportive role. Every role matters, and when in a leadership position, it’s your responsibility to celebrate the success of those around you. 

When playing on a team, it was common practice to celebrate a big kill, a great pass, or a game-winning shot. Nothing gets a better reaction from the crowd than a diving hustle play. Yet, somewhere along the line, we stopped doing this. While chest bumps and high fives might not work at the office, there is something to be said for acknowledging someone’s hustle and celebrating success. There is a proven benefit for leaders to utilize this concept and celebrate assists at the office. A small gesture of celebrating success might help your organization be winners in its field. 

I have always had a love for leadership and motivational speakers. A favorite quote from Zig Ziglar said, “when people are appreciated for what they do, they will do more than they are paid to do.” When working with teams in business, whether they are paid or volunteer, people will do more when they feel their contribution has value and they are appreciated for what they do – celebrate them. According to Gallup, 79% of employees who leave their jobs claim the lack of appreciation was the primary reason for leaving. Yet 65% percent of Americans claimed they were not recognized once during the last year. It seems like a small price to pay to retain employees and volunteers. In the same Gallup Poll, 60% of people said they were more motivated by recognition than money. You can maintain good staff, prevent turnover, and keep from having to rehire and retrain by taking more time and effort to celebrate great plays. 

Last year, we had a volunteer working on a pandemic service project, and every day he came in, I thanked him for helping and called him a Rockstar. It seems like a simple thing, but towards the end of our project, I thanked him for all his effort, which contributed to our success. He said, “I just showed up every day to hear that I was Rockstar.” Most of the projects we work on find success on the backbones of volunteers. We constantly find ways to celebrate their contributions, show how their efforts have value, include them in the outcomes, and let them know that our success is directly related to their outstanding efforts. When leaders recognize their employees, not everyone gets a prize mentality but to show genuine, heartfelt appreciation and gratitude, everyone wins! 

By Brenda Sale. She has worked in education for Nebraska Extension for 20 years and provides educational outreach to low-income and limited resources families. She works on community engagement strategies to engage stakeholders and volunteers to address food security in Dakota County. In her free time, she is a youth sports club coach.

Reference: David Novak, Golead, digital leadership platform. “Taking people with you, the education of an Accidental CEO” and “O Great ONE”! A little story about the Awesome Power of Recognition.”

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