I think it’s safe to say that we all like to celebrate. It is, after all, part of human nature to be celebratory and life just wouldn’t be the same without it.
When it comes to celebrating at work though, it can be a bit tricky and so, like most things, requires some leadership if it is to be a positive part of organizational life.
With this in mind, there are two questions that come up for me when I think about celebration and its place at work. The first one is, Why Bother? And the second is, What constitutes a “good celebration”?
So, first things first. Why Bother? Here’s what I think:
Celebration helps us take time to acknowledge accomplishments
Celebration has this way of drawing a line under yesterday and allowing us to look at today and tomorrow with uncluttered eyes. It’s hard to move on to the next thing if we haven’t given ourselves time to celebrate and put the last thing to rest.
It creates opportunity to build positive work relationships.
Celebrations allow us the chance to fortify our connections with others and create community among people who can help each other achieve things they may not be able to accomplish alone.
It brings life into work.
I like to think that celebration helps to integrate the experiences of “work” and “life”. We so often look at these as two separate entities. But, among other things, the notion of simply enjoying ourselves in celebration helps to lessen the starkness of the distinction we tend to draw between them.
Right, so if we agree there is a place for celebration in organizations, what constitutes a good one?
Well, I think a “good celebration” includes three elements, Meaning, Variety and Spontaneity:
Celebrating without connection to something meaningful might be fun for a while but loses its luster and its positive impact pretty quickly.
Every organization, whether they realize it or not, creates a culture that speaks to its values and purpose. Good celebrations reflect that culture and are tied to accomplishments that support it. For example, an organization that believes in contributing to the community it serves through charitable works will find meaning in a celebration that acknowledges fund raising events and the people who participate in them.
The opportunities for celebrations are many and varied. Depending on what is being celebrated, they can be elaborate and costly or simple in the extreme. Either way, they can be very effective as long as we understand the goal. And to me, the goal of celebration is to create happiness. So a good celebration usually results when a leader takes the time to understand what will accomplish that and varies the way in which it is honoured.
Some organizations become bogged down with formal “programs” meant to acknowledge and celebrate individuals and groups. While these might work for a time, I really think that good celebrations almost always include some measure of surprise and spontaneity. Keeping celebrations fresh, and sometimes unexpected, nurtures enthusiasm and a sense of fun that many formal programs lack.
What do you think?
Oh, and speaking of fun, I invite you to celebrate something that has meaning for you. And to help you, here is Kool and the Gang. Have a dance. Go on. You know you want to. Yahoo!