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Space2BE is celebrating 20 years of providing top quality management consultancy, executive coaching and leadership training to corporate clients across the UK.  The question is, however, why is celebration of this kind – and a marking of business milestones – so important?

Whilst popping open the champagne may seem fairly frivolous and a mere ritualistic gesture, the underlying symbolism behind this act of celebration is something too few business leaders focus on.  In fact, it is deemed a dying art by some management gurus, who believe that a lack of celebration has become more pronounced after the pandemic.  Again, why does this drop-off in celebration matter?

Quite simply, our brains are hardwired to respond to rewards and celebrating success means that we are rewarding ourselves, as leaders, but also the teams that got us over the finishing line or to our important milestone.  In this sense, when we celebrate an achievement – small or large – we become more motivated, more engaged and more productive. Our self-esteem as a ‘unit’, be that one person or many thousands of people, soars.  

In short, celebrating achievements is a crucial stepping stone in the building of an effective, goal-focused and driven team.  It should enable each team player to feel valued for their contribution and recognised for their work ethic and commitment. Furthermore, celebrating can strengthen team bonds, on the basis of a ‘we all achieved this together’ sentiment.

Whilst these reasons alone should provide sufficient cause to celebrate achievements and milestones, there is more to take on board.  Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Whitney Johnson has said, “Celebration is an important opportunity to cement the lessons learned on the path to achievement and to strengthen the relationships between people that make future achievement more plausible.”

In this sense, a celebration can be a watershed – a chance to reflect on a successful past but then build for future success.  The argument underpinning Johnson’s comment is that every initiative or business journey is S-shaped, in terms of its curve of learning.  The base of the S is the starting point, where resources and expertise is limited and growth or progress is slow but still present.  By celebrating smaller achievements in this phase, a company can give its teams momentum and encouragement, catapulting them into the ‘sweet spot’ of the S.

Here, progress continues apace and productivity is high.  Enjoying all of this is crucial, at this stage.  It is followed by a company or project team’s transition into mastery of its ‘craft’, where growth can again be slow.  The top of the S is frequently marked by boredom and stagnation.  A new challenge is important.

Celebrating milestones along the S journey is critical, as it feeds in energy and avoids what has been called the “on to the next” mindset.  By celebrating, there is the opportunity to stimulate dopamine release in the brain of each person involved and get the feel-good experience that makes us wish to learn more, do more and achieve more, because it’s a fantastic feeling when we do.

At this point, there is also a strengthening of connection to our other team members – vital bond-building within organisations that is worth its weight in gold.  For all these reasons, it makes sense to build as many celebrations as possible into the S-shaped journey that we undertake when going through a project or company life-cycle.

It is, however, also a chance to catch our breath and enjoy a bit of mindfulness, thinking back to where we have been and focusing greatly on where we want to be next.  It’s a sojourn, full of joy but also reflection and is deemed to be fundamentally essential for future successes. It contributes to the corporate vision  and propels a team to the next stage of its development; the next challenge or mountain to climb in pursuit of a goal or objective.

By celebrating, we can lift a team and help prevent burnout – which can otherwise be defined as a gradual loss of motivation. If we get it right, we can also make a celebration an opportunity to engage with clients, reinforce their loyalty in us and attract new customers and employees.  Having a culture in which achievements are celebrated is highly compelling and can be the difference between an organisation that retains its talent and one which does not.

By fostering collaboration within the team, moving them on together to the next goal, celebration can add a valuable dynamism to any growth plan.  If the celebration has also helped underline the past trajectory of the company and its future desired ‘ascent’, there should be a definite focus and opportunity to tackle the next challenge with immediate effect, with a highly motivated team and lots of positive energy helping to drive the organisation towards its objective.

If everyone’s takeout from a celebration is that every team player’s contribution is recognised by the organisation, there can be a fantastic internal morale boost.  This can make a tangible difference to aspects of work such as productivity and sickness absence reduction.

Lastly, it is highly probable that celebration of successes also helps develop skills.  When examining how students learn, Stanislas Dehaene said, in ‘How We Learn’ (2020) that rewarding students’ efforts is one way to enable them to develop a growth mindset.  Those with a growth mindset are said to be more likely to thrive in the face of difficulty and continue to improve (Yeager and Dweck 2020). Add to this the benefits to wellbeing that can be derived from rewarding and celebrating a success, there is much to recommend celebrating achievements within a business context.

Naturally, given all the benefits of celebration, the team at Space2BE will be ensuring that our 20th anniversary is a time to pause, reflect and then move onwards to the next challenge.  If you wish to work with us, as we embark on the next stage of our business journey, please get in touch, by calling 0208 720 6991.