By Iliana Alvarado
As a Project Manager at Evans, I have learned first-hand the challenges of balancing priorities, which includes managing exceptional delivery while maintaining an engaged, motivated project team. With many milestones to meet, it can be easy to lose sight of the human component behind what truly drives projects. ’People,’ often viewed as a collective group, has become a ubiquitous term as amorphous as ‘organization.’ To effectively lead and manage projects, I have learned the value of deconstructing ‘people’ into ‘individuals’, by focusing on celebrating who each individual person is. I consider the following questions: “Who are the individuals on my team, on my project, and within my circle of influence? Asking what celebrations are important to each one of them?” By understanding what drives each person—and celebrating these drivers – I am able to discover their unique talents, skills, and interests. This allows me to align them with the right role on our engagement and keeps them motivated to be successful.
Celebrating successes big and small, early on and throughout, and especially when a company hits challenging times, is key to motivating individual employees and achieving staying power in the industry.
With that in mind, here are ideas for your toolbox to celebrate successes. Some ideas are original, and others are ideas I’ve picked up along the way.
The Collective Resume: When forming new teams, create a large resume template using flipcharts to capture topics of interest to the team. Examples may include: education, work experience, skills, hobbies, and unique traits. Ask each team member to fill in the chart. Once completed, you will have one resume containing collective experience and pertinent details of your team. Have fun debriefing!
Team Snacks: Remember what it was like to trade snacks in the school cafeteria? The excitement of acquiring chocolate chip cookies for your bologna sandwich was too awesome an experience to leave behind in grade school. Bring the spirit of sharing to work by asking team members to trade their favorite snacks. This is a great way to energize the team following a post-lunch slump and lends itself to interesting stories behind each snack. Also consider celebrating small wins by providing smoothies for your team or other afternoon treats. For more significant celebrations, collaborate with the rest of the management team to serve and cook plated breakfasts for your staff. Adding aprons and chef hats is a definite crowd pleaser!
Peer-to-Peer Recognition: Hands down one of the most effective and well-received celebrations of success is a peer-to-peer recognition program. At Evans, we celebrate individual contributions during our monthly staff meetings. Anyone can nominate a peer for demonstrating any one of our core values. The nominee is then recognized at the staff meeting with a certificate describing their contributions and a gift card to a retailer of their choosing. Similarly, sending handwritten thank-you notes to staff members and clients is a low-cost method to celebrating achievements, both big and small.
Knowledge Sharing: In my experience, asking teammates to share something they are good at, or just simply weigh-in on a debated topic, has been a great motivator and avenue to celebrate their talents and contributions. To celebrate this during project close-out, my team and I complete a world café on lessons learned. In the table set-up, we keep a spot reserved for team recognition. In this space, every team member has a personalized card that states “[Name’s] best contribution to the project was…” Each person then completes the sentence for all the cards which is a great avenue for highlighting individual talents.
These are just a handful of opportunities to infuse celebrations into your daily operations. In the spirit of success, please share your favorites, too!