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Happy project day! (celebrating project successes)

Happy project day! (celebrating project successes)

January 5, 2022

The modern world fosters pursuit of achievements, project after project. At the end of a project many managers conduct a detailed analysis of the project’s weak points, sometimes not focusing on what went well. And sometimes neither the manager nor the team wants to spend time to celebrate their achievements and positive results that were obtained thanks to the joint efforts of the entire team. It’s a pity! ... After all, the project’s success is the result of each team member’s efforts, time, physical and emotional resources. The project manager needs stakeholders to feel that their efforts are valuable and were not in vain, that their contribution is appreciated. By the way, there are celebration meetings in the PMBOK Guide 6th ed.,  process 4.7 Close a project or phase. Does that mean we should celebrate only phase or entire project completion? No, therefore the theme of celebrating important victories, achievements, expressing gratitude to distinguished employees or the whole team is part of the project’s motivation system.

Celebrating success as a team is more than just a party or giving out bonuses, - says leadership consultant Kevin Eikenberry, - it helps employees feel fulfilled and motivated to take on future projects. However, you need to be quite attentive to what exactly should be celebrated. Otherwise, all corporate events can become a boring duty that does not bring satisfaction and causes annoyance and irritation among employees for the time wasted.

Events worth celebrating are: the team successfully completed a challenging assignment, completing it on time; the new team was able to work well together and complete the required amount of work together; some of the team members did a great job that contributed to the quick and successful completion of the project or release; customers highly appreciated the level of service, etc. If the project implementation requires a long time (a year or more), you should think over the milestones and events that need to be celebrated (for example, the successful contract conclusion by a certain date).

You can acknowledge the success of your team or its members with letters of gratitude and achievement certificates. You can also get together as a team once a month to celebrate current achievements or jointly celebrate birthdays and other significant events in the life and career of team members.

But what if you have a virtual team? During a pandemic companies started employing remote workers more often. In such a case, there is a different way to express appreciation and celebrate important accomplishments. Here are a couple of ways that will work for both a virtual team and co-located one:

  1. Use a few words of gratitude to individuals or the entire team during a group call or video conference. For example, for some team member working all night to deliver a great presentation, or for the team able to develop a work plan by the set deadline - all of these are great reasons for praise.
  2. Send some small souvenirs to remote employees (this could be a bottle of champagne, favorite candy, etc.)  It's a good idea to have a video conference where people can taste the presents together. 
  3. Grant your colleagues with food and drink certificates. So, if your employee is a fan of coffee, a certificate for a coffee chain will be an excellent gift, and if she loves to eat deliciously, then the food delivery services paid by the company will definitely delight her.
  4. Have a celebration day where people can try something new - go to an expensive restaurant with the family, visit a local theme park, or go on a tour. It will also not be superfluous to arrange an offline party for the team to chat and get to know each other better, perform some actions together (quest, kayaking, etc.).  
  5. Organize an online party. Play music, tell stories of success, play online games, come up with a themed quiz (the topic can be the project itself or team members, etc.). Invite special guests - these can be ex-colleagues, key stakeholders  who made an important contribution to the project or organization. Discuss each team member's favorite things or drinks (recently read books, preferred teas, coffees, etc.); discussing such things will help bring people closer and find like-minded people among colleagues.
  6. You can also give virtual gifts - these can be souvenirs or funny gifts from an online store selected individually for each participant.

You should be careful about the team’s or members’ individual characters and tastes when choosing gifts and ways of expressing gratitude. Thus, an introverted employee can be very embarrassed by overly public recognition of his or her professional qualities in front of high-ranking representatives of the organization or even team members. It is also worth considering the culture of the people in the multinational team (for example, public praise can confuse Japanese employees).

But praise is still necessary and important, so if you doubt that public praise is appropriate, express your gratitude at the 1-2-1 meetings, i.e. in private, as it is a great way to tell the person that you are happy with their work.

It is important that the gifts match the tastes and current needs of the team members. The gift must not evoke negative emotions. For example,  some companies  give their employees branded T-shirts. In this case, try not to be mistaken with the size, or at least not excessively. If an employee has an XL size, do not send him or her size M, just because this is the largest size in stock. Instruct the person in charge of sending the gifts to clarify the size and apply a personalized approach: let the employee choose between, for example, a branded baseball cap and a T-shirt.

Therefore, we recommend that you do not give champagne to a non-drinker, sweets to a diabetic, and sausage to a vegan. Likewise with gift certificates and payment for food delivery service - before giving them, make sure that the service is available in the city or town where the remote employee lives. 

Individual approach and attention will help motivate team members to work hard, feel grateful to the company and feel that they are really taken care of. The role of a project manager is more than just managing the project and meeting the terms and conditions of the contract, first of all, the role of the manager is working with people. When you selflessly support and motivate employees, celebrate their victories and achievements, you create a real strong team that is motivated and ready for new achievements, knowing that its achievements will be recognized and failures will serve as an incentive for further development.



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