Agile leaders are obsessed by making and measuring progress. Yes, you want results, but to get there, you and your team need to keep moving on. And celebrating successes, even little ones, is a great way to encourage everyone to pursue their efforts.
But it also requires you mean it and you are able to role model it, or the team will quickly spot the difference between your words and your actions and you will lose its benefits and the trust from your team.
The great benefits of celebrating regularly
What you want is a collaborative spirit and a growth mindset, for you and your team. These are pre-requisite for finding out emergent solutions for the complex problems your customers face.
Celebrating successes is a proven way to positively reinforce the progress of the team and their motivation to pursue their efforts towards a goal. Not only that, but it creates opportunities to reduce stress and increase people’s sense of well-being.
As the team experiences positive feelings, it can also trigger more creativity and resilience. They are more enclined to keep going and cope better with challenges.
A real virtuous circle, as long as it is a true, honest and authentic celebration.
How to make celebration an authentic and useful event?
As a leader, if you are not used to see and celebrate successes, you will find it difficult to role model it and promote it. If this is the case, practice with yourself first. At the end of each day or week, keep some time to reflect on what went well.
Celebrate even the small things: you were able to finalize this roadmap or you had time to answer to an important email.
Check things you have completed and recognize them as a progress, therefore, as a success.
Make it a habit and keep doing it until you feel at ease with it and recognize its benefits for you: less stress, more will to move on.
Once you have reached this level, you can practice and encourage your team to do it.
Another way of practicing with your team, if you are not at ease with it, is to work on it with them. Maybe some of them are natural cheerleaders and can embrace this role. And you’ll play the game with them, as a participant.
Remember celebrating successes doesn’t mean launching a big reward system or having parties all the time. It is much more about recognizing progress and learnings. So it can be a regular simple shout out, with greater celebration less frequently and if you and the team feels like it. The way you celebrate is all yours!
Finally, make sure successes are not always coming from the same person. Find team successes and balance personal ones.
What about failures?
With an Agile mindset, failures are considered learnings. This is a positive thing.
As such, I like and usually encourage celebrating failures. This way your team members understand they have the right to learn from experimentation.
This is a place for them to share this knowledge in a safe space. Embedding failures, and most of all learnings, into the celebration helps creating what is called psychological safety. By doing this, you also increase trust between you and your team, as long as you genuinely welcome them.
If you are not at ease with it, you can of course start with finding learnings each time you think there’s a failure. But this is also a good opportunity to get help from a coach who can support you in this area and reshape your relationship with failures.