Imagine how disappointing it would be to train months for a difficult hike, spend days toiling up the mountain, exhaustedly reach the summit, and then turn right around and plod back down without savoring the moment.
Nowhere is this more true than in the workplace. Many of us spend more time working than with our families, and the rewards can seem few and far between. Here are five ways to acknowledge a job well done:
1. Company meetings
My company, Nav, holds monthly all-hands meetings in which the team gathers at our Salt Lake City office for lunch, conversation, and a performance review. Employees fly in from around the country to be there.
These are natural occasions for celebrating achievements, because the atmosphere is as festive as it is formal. It has the ambience and energy of a party without actually being one.
We know we're there to work, but the excitement of reuniting with friends and colleagues while chowing down on a delicious buffet lifts our spirits and create extra incentive to revel in our victories while still acknowledging where we've fallen short.
2. Employee shout-outs
Consider dedicating a Slack channel to nothing but shout-outs from one colleague to another. A shout-out is a brief notice of congratulation or gratitude. They take seconds to compose, cost absolutely nothing, and can be read and appreciated no matter where you happen to be working at the moment.
When you like and admire someone, reading about their triumphs is emotionally akin to experiencing a triumph of your own. It's even better when you know that the person who wrote the shout-out did so of their own volition. No one was pressuring them--it stemmed from a spontaneous moment of affection and esteem.
A shout-out in Slack is both public and personal; a universal shot in the arm. Encourage your team to be aware of the efforts of others. Set the example by posting regular shout-outs yourself.
3. Customer shout-outs
In 2016, we partnered with an exciting client. We used the occasion to write a blog post in which we tried to convey our keen appreciation both of the moment and the people who made it possible. We tried to craft it so that it was brief, clear, and heartfelt, and we hoped our readers felt the sincerity of what was truly a tribute to them.
When your company reaches a major milestone, try to keep your customers in the loop. Engage the public. Craft a special email or blog post; publish a press release; host a charitable event. If you really want to get intimate, send out personal thank-you notes to those clients who've been with you from the beginning.
4. Celebrate the right events
Vanity metrics are achievements that look awesome on paper without serving the primary goals of your business. Celebrating them is a sign of cynicism, confusion, desperation, or all three at once.
Let's say you reach 100,000 customers. An incredible achievement--on paper. But what if only a quarter of those customers are generating revenue, while the rest have simply signed up for a free version of your product?
It may be best to hold the confetti until you get 100,000 customers who are meaningfully moving your business forward.
Another example: gender parity. When you started, your company was 5 percent female. A few years later, it's 10 percent. You've doubled the number, but is one out of 10 employees really a metric for celebrating gender parity?
Maybe--the answer's subjective. But when you hit 50 percent? That might be a better time to break out the champagne.
5. Remember the individual
Don't forget personal milestones. If you have an employee who's been with you 10 years, reach out to them. If someone's had twins, reach out. If someone fell off a cliff while rock climbing, surviving death is a pretty amazing milestone. Send flowers. Let them know you love them.
One way to acknowledge anniversaries is to have a monthly lunch with employees who hit their year mark. We do this every month at our company meeting. I gather at a restaurant with these employees and the rest of the founders of the company; we tell funny or moving stories and just enjoy our time together.
Personally speaking, I'm not the best at remembering these events. You might not be either, especially as your company grows. Assign someone to remind you, and note special events in your calendar. Show up and recognize that these occasions aren't so much about your company as about the people who keep it going.