9 ways leaders can celebrate small wins

9 ways leaders can celebrate small wins

One of the features of the small wins approach is the emphasis on celebrating at the end of a project.

In fact, part of the reason I like small wins is because the projects are small and frequent, there are there are many more opportunities to celebrate.

Remember the win could be the attainment of a goal and/or a new insight or piece of learning.

But many leaders don’t know how to celebrate with their group or team.

Part of the reason according to BJ Fogg, PhD, Director, Persuasive Tech Lab, Stanford University is:

We have many ways in our culture to tell ourselves we’ve done a bad job.

But we don’t have many ways to say, “Good for me!”

And I think that’s why celebration strikes people as awkward or unnatural.

The other reasons are that under a big wins mentality celebrating projects is an infrequent affair and leaders are often so busy they are already moving on to their next project.

This is a wasted opportunity.

Celebrating a small win is a powerful way to motivate and engage the team.

It’s also a great way to highlight significant progress or the reaching of a milestone.

BJ Fogg also suggests another reason why celebrating is important:

Because that’s how you make your new behavior automatic.

You fire off positive emotions right after you’re doing the behavior (or while you’re doing it).

That’s the role of celebration.

In other-words it acts as a kind of self-reinforcing behaviour.

So here are 9 ways to celebrate a small win.

Remember by definition the celebration itself should be small.

But you can still have lots of fun.

1. Have the team leader acknowledge the achievement

There is nothing like  a private or public acknowledgement by a leader to the team for a job well-done.

This is itself is a small celebration as many leaders unfortunately are not very fulsome in their praise.

It could be at the beginning of a meeting or a formal speech or presentation for example.

2. Celebrate with a team coffee, lunch or drinks.

It does not have to be a big affair but the group takes time to reflect, learn and celebrate their journey together.

3. Develop and promote around the organisation a small wins celebration icon

This is similar to a happy face for example.

It appears every time there is a noteworthy celebration and can be sent to all staff or as a header for emails etc.

4. Have Friday afternoon off

Another left-field way for a team to celebrate a small wins success is to go off-site for lunch or for a picnic or finish early on Friday.

The emphasis is on a small recognition rather than a big reward.

5. Create a small wins trophy

This can be similar to the yellow jack in the Tour de France for example.

The team that completes a project wins the trophy and gets to keep it until there is another small wins celebration.

6. Create a small wins contest between teams.

You can keep a progress scoreboard.

The first team to complete their project wins the prize for example.

7. One team presents their win to other team who in turn presents their results and have a joint celebration.

8. Celebrate the results and learnings on the organisations intranet or on Yammer for example.

The advantage of this approach is that it might just encourage other groups in the organisation to take on a small wins project.

It creates confidence, momentum and provides useful case studies to fight off the doubters.

9. Have a friendly small wins contest between teams

Then after say 30 days each team presents their results and key learnings to each other and they have a joint celebration.


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