It is probably safe to say that the last time you handled a storm surge, landed a new big commercial contract or reached a significant financial performance goal you planned a big celebration with all the employees who helped make that success a reality.

This is fantastic, and I commend you for this. However, it is my experience that these “big” celebrations do little in the long term for motivating and retaining employees.

My question is this: Why are we not celebrating the small successes that take place each and every day in our workplaces? It’s reflective of the same sentiment that leads us to ask why we wait until Thanksgiving to be thankful, or until Christmastime to be generous, or until it’s “too late” to tell someone we love them. Begin now, as a matter of business practice each day, to catch someone doing something right. When employees recognize that even small successes and achievements are tied directly to recognition, you can count on many more successes to come.

No one would disagree that negative attitudes within the workplace can lead to problems. No one, least of all your customers, enjoys doing business with an employee who is negative. A negative culture within a company can lead to deteriorating morale, lack of productivity and difficulty retaining employees. Possibly the single biggest challenge that many of you are facing today is related to hiring and then retaining good employees. In order to accomplish both of these things, it is critical to avoid, from day one, negative attitudes in the workplace. Encouraging, or even requiring, each member of the management team to adhere to daily recognition of deserving employees is a must, not an option.

It is natural for you to be skeptical of the idea — at first. Catching someone doing something right each day may seem unnecessary, or even excessive. However, ask yourself how many articles and books you have read lately that have tried to convince you that “old style” management— boss, supervisor, traffic cop— needs to be replaced by the new leader of today— teacher, coach, mentor.

Every piece of new literature and research tells us that each person is a unique individual, and that they will have unique motivators in the workplace that help to create a positive and productive attitude. However, what this same research will also tell us is that every employee wants and needs recognition for a job well done. If you want passionate performance you have to win their hearts and minds before you can win their efforts.

This point is made very vividly in the book Everyone Matters, The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family, by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia. In the chapter entitled “Recognition and Celebration,” the authors state:

“In most organizations, people do the right thing most of the time, but most communication is about the things that go wrong. In a culture like ours that’s focused on continuous improvement, you could spend so much time looking for gaps or issues or challenges that you forget to stop and celebrate successes along the way. I was taught long ago that if more than half of your communication with any individual is negative, it’s an oppressive relationship. So we make a conscious effort to fill our airwaves with goodness.”

My next question, then, to every owner, manager, and leader is: Are you creating an oppressive relationship, or are you creating a climate that fosters respect and involvement? Because if you are still skeptical, know that a culture of recognition results in employees who accept and embrace:

  • Responsibility
  • Self-accountability
  • Loyalty
  • Self-esteem

The best part of celebrating small successes with your workforce each and every day? It doesn’t cost you or any member of your management team anything other than time, which is a pretty good ROI.

Scott Tackett is a Business Development Advisor for Violand Management Associates (VMA), the largest consulting company in the restoration and cleaning industries. Tackett is considered the leading expert in restoration and cleaning for Human Resource Development and Organizational Leadership with more than 30 years of experience. Through Violand, he works with companies to develop their people and profits. To reach him, visit Violand.com or call (800)360-3513