Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
Celebrating accomplishments is truly one of life's greatest pleasures. You see the celebration at the March Madness or Super Bowl with confetti coming down, Kool and the Gang on the loudspeakers, champaign being passed around, yep, you know who won the game. At weddings we throw rice, birdseed or blow bubbles. We have special introductions and dances to recognize the newlyweds. Heck, social media helps you announce how you are preparing to eat the most incredible meal on the planet! Can’t you tell how amazing it is from my picture?
What if we were able to take some of the feelings we get from those big, seldom achieved wins, and applied it to smaller accomplishments or milestones? Would it water it down? Would we be giving everyone a trophy? In my post Expect Excellence, the 2nd Pillar of Impact, I talk about celebrating the process and not the goal. That is what I am talking about here. Finding ways to acknowledge the successful achievements and forward progress towards a desired future state. You don’t celebrate standing still. You don’t celebrate doing what is average. You celebrate the actions that you take and the advancement you make towards that excellence.
In Operations, your goals and measurements of success are tangible and typically more near term with a shorter time between cause and effect. You make the batch it ships the next week. You run a test; you get the results. You ship a product, and it arrives a few days later. It’s not always that straight forward, but it is definitely easier to see progress, identify success, and measure failures.
But there are other parts of a company that are more challenging because either it is difficult to get tangible measurements or the time between cause and effect can be so long that you may be in a different job before it happens. When HR implements a new Leadership Development program, it’s difficult to get tangible KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that are applicable across groups and functions that can not only be measured but then acted upon to improve. If you are in R&D, you could be working on projects that do not see commercialization success in terms of years! How do you stay motivated when your focus is on inventing a commercial product and success may not come for 5 years?
In my post, It’s Many “One Moments” that Determine the Outcome not a Singular Moment, I talked about how you can’t be defined by a single moment in life, but too often, that is how we measure our wins. As leaders, we need to create a culture of winning so that each and every day, you win the day. You work with your team to identify the milestones that need to be achieved along their path and you find ways to celebrate them. To acknowledge the progress and learning that has occurred AND you connect it to the next step to make sure that they do not stop but keep moving along their journey.
I remember back to my early days as a new employee, fresh out of college. Attending training classes where the instructor would talk about what motivates employees. We would chuckle as he talked about a good environment and being shown appreciation and invariably somebody would whisper, “how about a big fat bonus!” It’s funny how you think of things, and I am not downplaying the benefit of the financial recognition, but everyone laughs until they experience sincere appreciation and gratitude for a job well done. Wow! It really is a powerful motivation tool. It was evident when we were young - playing sports, doing our schoolwork, participating in our play, cleaning our room. Hearing the praise and appreciation in the voices of those we respected was amazing, but somehow, we forget that power or we become too self-conscious to step out of our comfort zone to do it.
On the Management is a Journey Website, they list out the top 5 employee motivators as:
1. Challenging Work
3. Employee Involvement
4. Job Security
Does this match up with what you experience in your own work? I think about our company Engage surveys and they seem to show a similar pattern and interest. So again, as a Leader, what are you doing to create a culture of winning? A culture that motivates your teammates. As an employee, how are you engaging others and motivating them? How are you communicating with your supervisor and discussing these types of interactions? Who have you thanked today?
One of my stances on winning is that it is not a zero-sum game. For a person to win, others do not have to lose. Again, I’m not sitting in a circle, singing kumbaya and handing out participation trophies. I’m saying that multiple people can win once you accept that winning is not a place or a scoreboard, but a culture and a mindset. The desire to improve and grow makes you better today than you were yesterday. Working within your team to help them make progress is something that is extremely powerful.
The responsibility is on leaders - not just on the organizational chart - but those of you who lead in life. Look for the milestones. Recognize the accomplishments. The improvements. Celebrate the wins. Celebrate the progress. Celebrate the speed and momentum. Choosing to celebrate the culture of winning enables the celebration to go Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.