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Celebrating Milestones at Work: How To Recognize Team Achievement

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“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” This famous line from the 80’s movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is what many of us face in the day-to-day race to keep up at work. In the hustle to stay on top of the immediate needs, meet deadlines, and achieve committed results, taking the time to reflect on what has been accomplished can easily slip by.

Yet science has proven there is great value in celebration as it wasn’t just one thing that made us hit a milestone, it was all the mundane actions done with consistency that added up to one large achievement. In an article by Psychology Today, it was noted that “any celebration, big or small, is really about taking a beat to notice the good stuff in your life. It can also be a reminder of our talents and abilities, skills, and persistence. Drawing on those things can motivate us to keep working toward our goals.”

Team leadership requires recognizing team achievement but also keeping the team going when times are tough. Psychology researcher Fred Bryant notes the benefits of celebration when times are good to get us through the bad, “When we stop to savor the good stuff, we buffer ourselves against the bad and build resilience - and even mini-celebrations can plump up the positive emotions which make it easier to manage the daily challenges that cause major stress.”

Celebrating milestones at work should go beyond years of service and employee recognition programs. Establishing milestones and recognizing team achievements when they’re met should also be a reason to celebrate.

How do you celebrate milestones at work? Here are ways to recognize your team.


Establish the Milestones You’re Working Towards

“What gets measured, gets done.” This goes for your team. The first step is to establish the milestones for your team to achieve. Break down the ultimate goal into smaller, time-bound goals that will act as your milestone. Ensure each milestone is a SMART goal: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

It is important to break down a large goal into smaller ones, as the journey is long, and celebrating milestones throughout will help keep the team motivated, productive, and engaged to see it through to the end.


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Say Thank You

It is that simple. A simple thank you to your team can go a long way. In one U.S. study, where they surveyed 1,500 employees, they found that 75% agreed that motivation and morale would improve if their manager thanked them in real-time for a job well done. Showing your appreciation not only fulfills what your employees are seeking but there are also positive rewards to those delivering it. It has been found that gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, deal with adversity, and build stronger relationships.

Showing your appreciation can come in many forms such as recognizing team achievement at a meeting, leaving a handwritten thank you note on their desks or individually thanking them during their one on one meeting with you.


Host a Team Party

Hosting a team potluck, a zoom cocktail hour, or games lunch are a few ways to celebrate milestones at work. Though you should gauge what your team’s interests are, their level of engagement, and creativity to decide on the type of party. Even get them involved in the party planning since it is their celebration and should be something they willingly attend. Of course, it does not have to be a big, elaborate, or expensive celebration. More often than not, just getting together and giving each other a well-deserved high-five for the achievement is appreciated.


Go Beyond Your Team

It is one thing for you to know the team achievement that has been attained but it is just as important that those you report into know as well. Be sure to share the news with your boss, and if you sit on a management or leadership team, bring the group up to speed as well. If you receive any encouragement, be sure to share it with your team. Doing so reinforces the daily impact each individual on the team has and how their efforts are important and valued to helping the organization achieve its larger, long-term goals.


Conclusion: It’s Up To You To Celebrate Milestones At Work

“Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.” This quote from Nelson Mandela should act as a reminder to take the time to reflect and celebrate even the small victories. By establishing milestones and showing gratitude to your team, you can inspire your team to keep up the great work and push ahead to reach their ultimate goal.

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