Some teams work for months or years to implement a change, then limp across the finish line burned out and ready to shut down. Others reminisce fondly about having been part of a great team that accomplished something significant.
What sets the two apart?
I would argue the one of the most critical factors in determining how Change Agents feel about their work is how well they’re recognized along the way. The work of guiding and reinforcing change is not easy. It calls for people to learn new tricks and stick their necks out for ideas that are not always popular.
Instead of waiting months or years for the wrap-up party, consider these three ways to celebrate with your team as you go along:
1. Establish a Team Attitude Early: Publicly list the behaviors you expect Change Agents to demonstrate, then reward them consistently and informally when they are “caught in the act” during the project. Reinforcement can be as simple as a spoken “thank you” or as tangible as a formal recognition program.
2. Recognize Effort -Reward Results: Most organizations offer tangible rewards for meeting quantitative goals and that’s good. But don’t forget to recognize the effort people put into achieving goals – even if they fall short. Failure to recognize an effort that falls a bit short can be seen as losing an “all or nothing” gamble.
3. Celebrate Interim Milestones: We once served root beer floats and ice cream to over 100 people involved in a big technical change project to celebrate their accomplishing a “code freeze“. It’s OK to be a bit silly – but it’s not OK to miss the opportunity to appreciate people.
For more details on this topic, see these earlier posts:
- Choosing a Project Team for Your Change (Characteristics to look for in team)
- Tell her About It! (Billy Joel’s advice on team recognition & appreciation)
- Making Ground Rules Stick (Establish & enforce effective team ground rules)
Question for Chatter:
- What’s your favorite story about celebrating a team’s success? Did it involve something more fun than practical – like our ice cream stunt?
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