At all the quarterly sessions I facilitate for my clients, we celebrate! That is, we start with a Victories, Brags, and Personal Pride exercise. We’re trying to set up the day well by taking time to identify the organizational wins and individual accomplishments that have occurred since the last quarter. It’s important to do so, because the challenge of the moment (or the bad news of the day) naturally takes up space in the front of our minds. This can render the good work and victories to go unnoticed. Doing this exercise forces a celebration that frees up the minds of the participants to more open dialogue and better decision making for the day. It’s also a great team building and learning experience. Teams are always somewhat astounded by the number of victories and personal accomplishments that have been achieved. Awareness of them is an opportunity to build your culture.
Everyone has to participate in the exercise, personally presenting the victories and accomplishments they have witnessed. Here’s where the exercise gets serious. I don’t let them just announce the victory or accomplishment; I push the presenter to dig deeper and go beyond the obvious. Each is required to:
- tie the victory or a accomplish to a core value,
- and/or go into detail about how it was accomplished,
- and the impact it will have on the future of the team.
I push hard on this, because I want the participants we celebrate to be both cheerleader and coach.
Think about a football game and when your favorite team scores.
The cheerleaders go crazy, making sure the team and every player know that they have done something good. They’re celebrating. That’s important; it needs to be done.
But what are the coaches doing? Of course they go crazy, too. We usually see them jumping up and down, ripping their headsets off, hugging players, and giving each other high fives. Kind of like the cheerleaders, but very shortly afterwards they switch gears and go back to work. They stop the key participants in the play and start giving them feedback on why the play was successful and why their individual parts of it worked. They often get into technique and tell them what they did differently this time that they didn’t do last time they ran the play. Coaches might even give some input on how to do it even better next time.
When the coaches do this, the players know what to repeat, what to differently, and what to do better. They copy from each other. It’s all to build towards another victory or accomplishment.
That’s why I push people in the exercise to get specific identifying the core value exhibited and the specific details of their successes. Those involved learn from this. They can copy the successes of others. Then, they get inspired to find additional successes, and the culture grows.
Finally, I ask one more question. “Have you told these people (especially those not in the room) and everyone else in the company about these successes and why they are important for the company?” Often the team sheepishly admits that haven’t done this. This is immediately added to the “Who What When” list to be completed after the session.
If you haven’t been keeping track of victories and accomplishments, start doing that and celebrating. When you are doing that, start cheering. If you are already cheering, start coaching. It’s how you build culture.