I once knew a CEO that kept a gong in his board room. Whenever one of his people did something extraordinary or had a success, everyone would gather around and the man or woman of the hour would ring the gong. Everyone applauded; they might have cake or a drink, but the gong is what truly mattered: people loved it. They aspired to hear it ring in their honor.
I tell people that now and they look at me like I have four heads: “That’s so cheesy! Ringing a gong, are you kidding me?” Yes, it’s cheesy! That’s the fun part. But it also took time out of the day to acknowledge efforts and wins. Once you start a tradition like this in your organization, people take notice, and work for it.
Don’t Neglect To Celebrate
I have seen a lot of CEOs who don’t celebrate successes within their organizations, and it’s a real detriment. People work tirelessly to get a proposal or a customer installation done, or they sacrifice their personal time to ensure a product makes it out the door on time. These accomplishments matter, but the CEO says, “Ok, now we’re moving on to this new project.”
No one gets to celebrate; no one even gets to take a breath. It’s right back to the grindstone. You can only do that to people for so long; you’re simply not going to keep them.
Think Outside The Box
Celebrating success doesn’t need to be lavish or expensive. Sometimes, it’s just recognition and giving people a break before jumping into another project or initiative immediately. It could be, “Hey, team, great work on this project. Let’s take off early today.” Or, “I appreciate all your hard work. Let’s meet in the conference room for pizza.” Whatever the specific mechanism, the point is to thank people for their work and to let them take a breather.
Little traditions, like the gong, can help you do that. They take on a life of their own. I worked with a sales manager years ago who kept an air horn in his desk. When a salesperson closed a big deal or signed a new client, everyone came in, and he blasted the horn. Wait, there’s more. He’d reach into his desk drawer, grab a handful of money and throw it at the salesperson. Everyone had a great time, and it became a tradition. It was a big deal when that happened to you or to a member of your team.
Little Traditions Go A Long Way
All CEOs know that its important to host parties, give bonuses, bring staff on trips, and offer other rewards. We should all be doing those things. You get a big deal; you take the management team out for dinner. Your team pulls off a great quarter; you have a party. These are no-brainers.
Establishing the little cultural things to acknowledge and reinforce success creates an especially great workplace. These traditions are what your people will really remember and value. They’ll work to ring the gong or to have an air horn blasted in their faces – as odd as it sounds! They will equate that with success and strive for it.