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    Across the Milestones: Strengthen your relationships by celebrating your success.
    The Vault

    Across the Milestones: Strengthen your relationships by celebrating your success.

    March 2016

    Running a business is hard work.  Even when you’re on an upward trajectory, you (and the employees you have, if you have them) work hard to grow your business.  So hard, in fact, that you often don’t take the time to mark your achievements. Too many business owners fall into the trap of doing something great, and pausing only long enough to figure out what to do next.  That keeps things moving, but it’s a recipe for feeling tired, frustrated, and like you don’t add value.  Then comes the burn out.

    One of the most important ways that businesses owners and their teams can maintain motivation and enthusiasm is to celebrate milestones.  Celebrating success -- even seemingly small things -- promotes a culture where people stay motivated because they feel valued.  This forges deeper relationships and true sense of teamwork. Celebrating reminds us that our hard work is worth it and progress is being made.  Plus, it beats the heck out of doing paperwork.

    What’s a milestone?  It’s anything you want it to be.  Increased website hits, employee anniversaries, meeting or exceeding sales goals, greater newsletter subscriptions...they all deserve your attention.  If it’s building your business, acknowledge it.  

    There are countless ways that business milestones can be acknowledged, from employee events and parties to bonuses and gifts.  Don’t be overwhelmed by this.  If you’re on a limited budget, you may not be able to offer big parties and rewards. That’s understandable.  However, limited funds should not deter you from acknowledging exemplary work.  In other words, the act of recognizing efforts is far greater than the size of the gift.  So keep it simple, but never skip it.

    Here are just a few tips that can help you make your celebrations and acknowledgements as beneficial as possible:

    1. Don’t play favorites.

    It’s easy to acknowledge the employees we particularly like and ignore the ones we don’t.  Get over that. Achievements should be rewarded fairly and based on merit. It can be painful and demotivating for those who are not being acknowledged when their better-liked colleagues are being recognized for every little thing.

    1. Sometimes, just say thank you.

    Not every goal or milestone needs to be followed by a party or a gift.  A simple thank you for a job well done can go a long way toward sustaining momentum in reaching larger goals.  You are never too busy to say thank you.  (Bonus points for doing this in person or over the phone and not via email.)

    1.  Get personal.

    Think carefully about what your team would appreciate and gear your efforts accordingly.  Got an office full of football fans?  A bit of team swag and an afternoon of watching the game might be in order.  Plan for others, not yourself.

    1.  Make it a family affair (at least sometimes).

    You know that working long hours to grow your company means that you sacrifice some family time.  Recognize that this is the case for your employees, too.  When milestones are achieved, consider a family-friendly event to acknowledge the impact your employees’ hard work has on their family life.

    1.  Keep celebrations in check.

    Parties that encourage less than professional behavior can damage the team atmosphere and, ultimately, your authority as boss.  A celebratory glass of champagne to toast the completion of a sales goal?  Appropriate. A raging keg party that lasts into the night?  Not so much.

    Bear in mind that marking milestones can also be marketing opportunities. Whether you’re marking your first or 20th year in business, you have a chance to tell your story to your customers and your employees. Plan a party and invite the media.  Your celebration is an occasion to get publicity, and it gives you a reason to raise awareness of your business in your community.  If for no other reason, plan a celebration to publicize your company.

    The bottom line? Take your nose off the grindstone and put your feet up.  Bask in your success.  You and your team have earned it.


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