Unlocking the power of celebration

Most people get motivated when their achievements are celebrated...

David Beharall: Managing Director at CandidSky

But do we fully understand the impact that celebrating our hard work, and sharing the success of individual effort, has on engagement, loyalty and performance over the course of months and years?

As a former professional footballer and current MD of a rapidly growing digital agency, CandidSky, I’ve learned that people naturally draw energy and resolve from others around them, often without realising. We not only want to feel that our work is correct, but that its purpose is valued. It boils down to appreciation — a fundamental human need.

Think about it: when we share details of our recent efforts with partners, friends or family, what we are really looking for is approval that these efforts are well done and worthwhile. We rely on others to share in our success to make it feel valuable beyond doubt.

Nowhere is this more relevant than in the workplace. Celebrating results cements a belief among staff that their hard work is contributing to a larger, established vision, and is therefore hugely appreciated.

Even individual praise is an opportunity to invite other team members to share in the triumph. For line managers especially, it’s a crucial method of communication to engage staff and promote trusting work relationships. When people believe in the work they are putting in, and can see the wider purpose behind it, they produce better results, faster.

Visualising success

Throughout my career, I’ve always found it useful to visualise how celebration fits into the overall cycle of success as we move from week to week, project to project…

  • Belief is the cornerstone of all success. Before anything else, we have to believe without any shadow of a doubt that we will be successful.

  • Potential is the confidence we have in our future ability. We may not know exactly how to get there, but once we recognise our potential, we can start working towards achieving it.

  • Action is the steps we take to realising our potential. If our self-belief is strong enough, we start to take massive action to make it a reality.

  • Results, particularly outstanding results, are the achievement of continual action. If these actions are assured before they are carried out, the quality of our work will benefit greatly.

  • Celebration is the catalyst between results and renewed belief. Recognising hard work and achievement ensures people believe their efforts are worthwhile, and spurs the cycle of success to continue...

I’m a firm believer that ‘you get more of what you focus on’, and that every result provides an opportunity to either cement or weaken your belief in something. That’s why positive celebration plays such an important part of keeping staff happy, engaged and productive.

Unwrapping celebrations

There are a thousand different ways to celebrate success at work, from the big to the small.

But before you can celebrate, you have to know where you want to end up. What are your outcomes? Get specific with the direction of your overall vision and the impact you want to achieve, then it becomes easier for others to contribute to it.

Our initial vision at CandidSky, for instance, was to become a leading digital agency in the North West. It wasn’t until planning for our ninth birthday party in our new work space that we realised we had achieved this vision. Sometimes you spend so long chipping away at the rock face that you forget to step back to take in the full view of your hard work.

We made sure to invite partners, friends, family and clients to share in the celebration. We’ve grown immensely in the past nine years, and it’s important milestone in our story so far — so why not shout about it? An event like this also creates a positive mutual memory, which is vital for building strong relationships within the team.

That’s why celebrating results has to be authentic, and it has to be enjoyable.

Four ways to spread a feeling of triumph among your team…

  • Get personal
    If you’re putting on a do then why not get the people who really matter to your staff involved? Inviting partners, friends and family to share in the success of the company at social get-togethers is invaluable to morale and self-belief.

  • Lucky dip
    At CandidSky HQ, we stock an old chest with prizes of various shapes, sizes and values. When somebody completes an excellent piece of work, they are rewarded with the chance to win up to £70’s worth of tech gear.

  • Praise box
    We believe praise and recognition is just as important between colleagues as it is from the top down. That’s why we introduced a ‘praise’ box, where people can fill out a recommendation for a colleague who deserves a special mention. We then announce the recommendations in our monthly team meetings — and perhaps delve into the chest once more…

  • Review performance regularly
    I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great football managers over the years — Sir Bobby Robson, Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish to name a few — who would always review our team performance the following Monday after a game. Even if we’d lost 3-0 that week, good managers always pick out a few positive highlights we could take away and build on.

Remember that these ideas are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Celebrations, big and small, are an opportunity to experiment with systems and invent creative ways to engage your people.

Keep moving, keep pushing boundaries and, above all, have fun with it! You’ll soon find more and more things worth shouting about.