“We’re not good at celebrating accomplishments,” said my client during a call to plan a day-long internal communication team meeting. “We’re so busy getting the work done that we seldom stop to discuss what we achieved."
I’ll bet you have this problem, too. In this fast-paced, 24/7 world, most of us are so busy spinning plates that we don’t stop to take a bow, much less enjoy a round of applause.
I suggested to the client that improving recognition can’t be solved in one meeting, but that designing an activity would be a good start.
“Great,” the client said. “Let’s spend time giving team members a chance to share what they’re proud of.”
So we came up with an exercise that worked very well. Here’s a version of the session that’s quick, easy and can be incorporated into an existing team meeting.
Here’s how it works:
- Give team members a heads up before the meeting to think about two to three projects or accomplishments they’ve achieved over the past six months or so. (The advance notice makes it more likely they’ll remember the successes that matter most.)
- At the team meeting, start the exercise by giving each person one large Post-It note in a certain color (let’s say green) and two large Post-It notes in a different color (let’s say yellow).
- Ask participants to write on the green Post-It note a 7- to 10-word summary describing the accomplishment each is proudest of. On the yellow Post-It notes, ask participants to write each of the other accomplishments.
- When they’re done, ask each member to come up to a wall or flip chart and stick the green Post-It note up and quickly talk about the accomplishment. Give each team member a round of applause after each share. (Post the yellow notes nearby but don’t present about them.)
- When every participant has shared his/her accomplishment, switch gears, using a separate flipchart to facilitate. Draw a line down the middle so you have two columns. At the top of the left-hand column write “Strengths.” At the top of the right-hand column write “Leverage.”
- Ask the group to discuss: “What are the strengths that made it possible for us to complete these accomplishments?” Write answers on the flipchart until you have a good list. Then ask: “How can we leverage these strengths to do even more awesome work?” Write those on the right-hand side.
- See if there any action items the team can agree on as a way to build on members’ strengths. And suggest that a member of the team collect all the Post-It notes and record them for future sharing—perhaps with the team’s manager or key internal client.
Then resolve to keep working on ways to share and recognize successes. Congratulations! You’ve made great progress at better recognition.