If we don’t recognize our people and celebrate success, who will?
This is the time of year when many of us celebrate the holidays with our friends and family. But we also need to celebrate progress and success with our teams at work. Truth be told, this is an area of personal development for me that I need to work on continually improving. I need to celebrate the success of my own team.
Yet as a “Type A” New Yorker, my “modus operandi” is to check things off my To Do list. Therefore, when my team and I complete a major initiative, my knee-jerk emotional reaction is, “Phew, thank God that one’s done… Now what’s next in the queue?”
I’ve grown up in the IT industry where you don’t expect a whole lot of fanfare and accolades when things are successful. I’ve worked for people who expect me to succeed and don’t throw a parade when I do! But is this the type of leader Iwant to be?
Henry David Thoreau once wrote that most people “live lives of quiet desperation.” “Hanging on in quiet desperation” is how Roger Waters and David Gilmour referred to it (I bet you didn’t think I could get a Pink Floyd lyric in here!)
Most people are never recognized for what goes well. They are only singled out for what goes poorly. If you don’t believe me, watch the evening news! This is even more often the case in IT. When things work… well, hell… they are supposed to work! And when they don’t, people rain terror down on IT.
If you feel this way sometimes, imagine how thankless a job it can seem to your people in the trenches. What about the poor soul that spends 10 hours a day answering the phone at the help desk? She hears irritated people calling with complaints because something isn’t working. How many times does she receive a call saying thank you for solving a problem or making someone’s life easier?
It’s also important for your people to get some recognition within the broader organization. It helps senior leadership understand the impact and contributions they are making to the bottom line.
When we launched a major new pharmaceutical back in the 1990s, we would have huge product launches. I remember one particular launch for, shall we say a product that corrected a male-related problem, where they brought in Don Henley and Glenn Frey of the Eagles as the entertainment!
And when we rolled out our global network in just six months (back in the days when you didn’t have Starbucks hot spots!) what did we get? Nothing! I’m not talking about renting out the Waldorf Astoria, hiring Bon Jovi and throwing a party! Maybe a few pizzas and a public word of recognition? What about inviting the CEO to say a few words to the folks that he never sees on a daily basis? Maybe publishing a few words of recognition on the monthly corporate newsletter or a few words at the quarterly town hall meeting?
Every human being has a deep need for appreciation. We all want to feel that what we do makes a difference and that our days and years are not wasted running a treadmill.
It’s imperative as transformational leaders that we recognize and show our appreciation for our people and let them know that what they do makes a real difference for the company and for us. Nothing is more motivating than feeling appreciated and being thanked for a job well done. When was the last time you celebrated success with your team?
Larry Bonfante is the founder of CIO Bench Coach, an executive coaching practice for Information Technology (IT) executives and the author of the book Lessons in IT Transformation.