celebrating the small wins

Celebrating the small wins

Little and often is the key

.When I started this job a few months ago I promised myself that I would do things a little differently. That I would take the time to acknowledge the small wins, not only for myself but for everyone that I work with. The challenge with focusing on specific annual goals is that if we fall short, we consider it a failure. Actually, there are often numerous wins hidden along the route to a missed objective.

Experienced project managers might dub these as milestones, and whilst the two notions hold similarities I am talking about something different here. The focus here is not only on the smaller operational changes, but also on the cultural wins and other associated achievements.

As a leader there is rarely a downside to creating opportunities for regular praise, especially within a time of dramatic change. It is well researched that we listen to praise less than we do constructive criticism so it’s important to double-down on efforts. Below I’ve listed a few short examples of feedback opportunities.

Opportunities for positive feedback

Change in behaviour

We are not fixed individuals. A bad attitude or performance is not guaranteed, despite previous performance. All of us are capable of change and if we want to encourage positive behaviours then we need to celebrate them. It might be as simple as improved punctuality, or a more open exchange with regards to suggestions. There is rarely a overnight change in attitude, rather it tends to be gradual, so it’s important not to be complacent a miss feedback opportunities.

Helping others

There is enough pre-existing literature about the importance of working as a team. Anyone who has tried to bring siloed departments together knows how challenging building a real team can be. This is why it is important to acknowledge all team efforts immediately. It might be as simple as helping someone clean their workstation or showing them a more efficient way to execute a task. There is no limit to these kind of interactions and they should always be recognised.

Using initiative

The holy grail of change. Once suggestions start coming from the team you know you’ve started to shift to a more positive culture. Initiative can be a tricky one to manage as you don’t want staff going rogue with ideas. But, you do want them to bring them to the table. Having the right lines of communication is essential here and this ultimately requires an environment built on trust.

Each initiative should be met with enthusiasm and praise. This doesn’t mean that the idea is right for the business, or that it can be executed immediately. However, that shouldn’t diminish the response as the best ideas come from those closest to the work. If one initiative isn’t quite right, the praise should still be given. The next idea could change the way your business runs for the better.

Some small wins that get missed


Meetings have a bad rep. This is often because they are executed badly ; too long and not enough decisions. However, meetings are an opportunity to give regular praise and even in themselves can be praise worthy. When the agenda for a meeting is clear then there is the opportunity to thank those that are well prepared and bring their expertise to the table.

I’m currently facing the challenge of creating meetings in an environment where none have existed. This means not only getting buy-in on their value, but also establishing healthy rituals and behaviours in the meetings.

Requests for change

People asking for things is an incredible win. When teams don’t feel that they can trust leadership to enact change they stop asking to be involved or for changes that will improve their working environment. It might be the smallest request; a better brush for sweeping. But, this is a clear indicator that the person asking wants to do a better job. I can’t think of a better opportunity to thank someone for bringing an issue to attention.

Eyes and ears open

This is not an exhaustive list; there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Not that I’ve always got this right, but the key is to keep your eyes and ears open. To try and stay open minded to feedback opportunities and not get dragged into the operational quagmire. This means allocating time to both step back and observe and also having dedicated periods to engaging with your team.




Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash

About Good Words Online

This blog was designed to be a home for all the content I’ve created over the years. It is a mix of book reviews, personal reflections and business learnings. There is no definitive way to live or work, we all make our own choices. I in no way think I am right about any particular subject. This is simply about sharing what I’ve learnt and creating an online reminder for myself.

The name, good words, has no religious references. We can’t be good all the time. Each of us will make mistakes. All we can do is try to learn from them and try and attempt to be a little better next time.

Blog categories

Keep reading
Google My Business Get started
How to get started with Google My Business