Oswald Letter

Take time to recognize accomplishments in 2017

They'll jump at the chance to help you outby Dan Oswald

I’ve said before on these pages that I don’t do a great job of celebrating our company’s successes. It seems that as we achieve a goal, I immediately look to the next opportunity or focus on a problem area that needs attention when I should be recognizing and congratulating everyone involved in our success.

Maybe I need to take a lesson from the NFL. Earlier this year, the NFL relaxed its rules around touchdown celebrations. In a statement, the NFL’s commissioner said the league wanted to allow its players “more room to have fun after they make big plays.”

The results have been interesting. The players on many teams have choreographed elaborate celebrations to use after scoring a touchdown. On Thanksgiving Day, the players on one team—I really can’t remember which one—sat down to a faux Thanksgiving dinner after scoring a touchdown. In this little drama, the football served as a stand-in for the turkey, with a number of players sitting down around an imaginary table while one of their teammates pretended to carve the turkey. I’ve seen touchdown celebrations that had players pretending to be a bobsled team going down the mountain and another team playing “duck, duck, goose” in the end zone. (Click here if you don’t believe me or want to see video of the top touchdown celebrations of the season.)

My point is that grown men who are paid millions of dollars to play a game take the time to choreograph a celebration for something they will achieve two or three times in every game they play during a season. With a 16-game schedule, the average team scores about 40 touchdowns each season, yet the players believe it’s a significant enough achievement to celebrate with this level of premeditation. Aren’t there things we’re doing in our businesses that are just as important to us—if not more so—than a touchdown is to an NFL team? Then why aren’t we putting the same level of thought into celebrating our successes?

Here’s what I’m asking you to do. We have a little less than three weeks to go in the year. Take the time to sit down and make a list of every accomplishment realized by your team this year. Big or small, try to come up with every positive outcome you’ve seen over the previous 11-plus months. Then come up with ways to celebrate those successes while you still have time. Here are some ideas:

  1. Throw an end-of-year party where you share the list and recognize those who had a hand in each of the successes.
  2. Send “thank you” notes to each of your team members with the list of their 2017 accomplishments included. Thank them for making it a great year.
  3. Send out a department- or company-wide e-mail with your list of 2017 accomplishments, noting the work that went into achieving them and the importance of each. Consider it a “year in review” piece in which you close out 2017.

It doesn’t matter as much how you do it, just that you do it. People want to know that what they do makes a difference. People want to know they’re part of something bigger than themselves. People want to know that what they do contributes to the overall success of the department and company. And for them to know, you need to tell them.

Too often we’re thinking ahead about what still needs to be done. I’m sure you’re already planning for 2018. Don’t forget that it’s important to take some time to reflect on 2017 and all that has been accomplished. Take some time to thank everyone who has been involved in those accomplishments. And don’t hesitate to give yourself a little pat on the back, too—I’m sure it’s well deserved.