Earlier this month, I sat down with my team to review our performance for the quarter. We looked at the goals we set at the beginning of the year, reflected on our performance, and discussed what we needed to do to finish the year strong. Along with financial and client goals, we also have goals for maintaining a high-performance culture.
The performance review usually goes just fine, until we come to this goal, “Celebrate Our Milestones.” This one always makes me stop and reflect. Not only is our team dispersed from San Diego to Portland, Oregon, but I’m an achiever by nature. As an achiever, as long as I see that we’re checking off our daily tasks and meeting goals for our large projects, I’m perfectly happy. Rather than order a cake, I get more satisfaction from tackling the next thing to do and checking it off the list.
If you’re an achiever like me, it’s easy to let milestones come and go without much fanfare. Sales goals are reached. Employees promoted. New products launched. You get the idea.
But celebrating milestones means more than cutting cake in the lunch room. Milestones are effectively points in time along your company’s timeline prior to a future event or goal. Rather than the goal itself, milestones are a subset of the goal. As such, milestones of any size can be created throughout the lifetime of your company as you progress along the journey.
There’s nothing wrong with working on what’s next, but successful leaders deliberately take time to pause, look back, and acknowledge the journey along the way.
Here are four steps to help you make the most of your milestones:
Stop and celebrate. Take the time to do this each time your team reaches an incremental milestone. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Naveen Jain advises that too many leaders focus on an eventual, possibly elusive goal rather than enjoying the journey. Watch his Wall Street Journal interview here to learn more.
Reflect on what went well. Encourage your team to talk about their success. Whatever you can reuse on the next leg of the journey. Success builds momentum. In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell suggests that, “Momentum is really a leader’s best friend.” One success follows another and your team is motivated to achieve more.
Acknowledge what could have been done better. No achievement is executed perfectly. Encourage your team to review what could have been tightened in the last scrum and what changes can be made to improve the next one. As the late, great basketball coach John Wooden said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”
Set goals for the next milestone. Zig Ziglar liked to say that, “if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time.” People always need to know what’s next. It’s the challenge that keeps them from becoming complacent. Communicate and execute.
When you take the time to celebrate milestones, you separate the mundane from the memorable. Without the ritual of the celebration, it’s hard to know how far you’ve come. Make rituals part of your leadership practice and mark a moment of success with your team.
Question: For what events do you celebrate milestones? How could these celebrations enrich your corporate culture?