Don’t Forget to Celebrate

Hi Friend, on Thursday we spoke all about Systems, it’s the third step in our Finishing 2021 Well Series. Don’t let systems fool you. They aren’t overtly sexy but they make all the difference when it comes to driving results consistently. If you didn’t catch this yesterday (it was a long post!), I am offering a 30-minute Systems Success session in January. This is a courtesy, laser focused 30-minute session where you’ll walk away with feedback and insight on a system that will drive results more consistently or robustly in your business. Sign up by emailing me at

Just to review where we’ve been and where we’re going, these are the five steps to Finish well.  

  1. Your plan to cross the Finish Line, SPRINT if you must. Read it here.
  2. Your plan to Reflect. What went well? What didn’t go as well that needs to be left in 2021? Read it here.
  3. Your plan to review your Systems to make sure you sustain your results and wellness into the new year. Or – adjust them. Read it here.
  4. Your plan for Celebration and Gratitude.
  5. Your Plan to Kick Off 2022 grounded in your Mission, Vision and Values (MVV) with clear goals.

I almost didn’t include Celebration and Gratitude in this series even though I know it’s such an important part of Finishing Well. People need to know how much their contribution matters and how their contribution aligns with the mission and vision of the organization. Not everyone is motivated by recognition as their primary motivator, but all of the people I’ve led appreciate when their work is recognized and celebrated.

I didn’t initially want to include it because if I’m being honest, this is an area where I don’t feel super confident. When it comes to celebrating people and showing sincere gratitude, I didn’t always take the time to do that well. That was a mistake. I know I could have been more intentional about it. The year would end, we’d take time off during the holidays and then by the time January 2nd would roll around, we were full steam ahead on the next year’s goals. In the last few years as a Regional Vice President in the financial services industry, I did a better job with this. However, it could have still been better and I could have been more intentional. Instead of just celebrating at year end, we had a shared group recognition every time we met as a team where I could offer recognition. Even more special, we opened it up so the team could also celebrate and recognize their peers. I had to create a system around it and then go figure, I did it consistently. We recognized results and we also took time to recognize when we say each other showing up in alignment with our regional values. Honestly, those opportunities reinforced the best behaviors and results more effectively than any other component of our team meetings.

For me, the first role of a leader is to care for the people they’re leading. It doesn’t matter if you’re leading a workforce of ten thousand or you’re leading your two kids. Your people need to know that their leader cares. Every night when I lay with my boys, I tell them that I like them, I love them, and that I’m proud of them. Every night I want the last words they hear from me to be a sentiment of love and care. Caring for the people you lead shows up in a lot of ways, it’s not always warm, fuzzy positive affirmation. Sometimes it looks like Celebrating them and showing them Gratitude. Sometimes it looks like creating clarity for them. Sometimes it looks like having a challenging accountability conversation with them because you care about their ability to get what they want for themselves. Sometimes it looks like helping them get promoted and move into another more challenging or fulfilling role. Sometimes it looks like helping them leave the organization into a role that’s a better fit. Sometimes it looks like giving them direct, real-time feedback so they can learn quickly. If you’re a people leader in the home, in business or in community, you need to care for the people you lead. It’s your actual job. If you lead people but you don’t care, you may gain compliance and drive short term results, but you won’t get the best efforts from your team. If you’re a leader and you feel like you’re not getting someone’s best efforts, you might find their perception is that you don’t care. I find this with parenting as well.

If you are a leader who cares for people, you need to recognize them for the work they are doing. People will stay in organizations when they have a leader that cares for them in all the ways I mentioned before. While it’s fun to have reward and recognition events, I’ve found that it’s not the most impactful way to celebrate people. People do not feel personally recognized or personally appreciated when you thank them and their one hundred closest colleagues. That’s a nice thing to do and you should probably do it if it’s the only thing you do. However, it’s not the one size fits all approach to making sure people actually know how much you appreciate them. The best way is to tell people in a one-on-one conversation or a personal note. You would be surprised how far a snail mail note goes to make sure people know you appreciate the work that they do. As a leader, it’s also a really good idea to give your team or family opportunities to recognize each other. You don’t need to be the author of all Celebrations or Gratitude. Consider creating opportunities where your people can celebrate each other.

In every one-on-one conversation I led with the people that worked with me, I started the conversation with “successes from last week.” While that isn’t unique, it became my nudge to make sure I personally recognized my team for the things they felt most proud of. When they would share, I would celebrate them sincerely. Even if they had a less than stellar week, there was still something to celebrate. When my kids get home from school, I ask them “what went well today?” It is an opportunity to hear directly from my boys what they’re most proud of. It also is a trigger for them to think positively on their day, even to find one thing that went well. After going back to school after Covid home schooling, they would often reply to the question “just being at school mom.” We would celebrate that. Now, fast forward 18 months, at night when we say our prayers, my 11-year old always thanks God for the ‘opportunity’ to go to school in person.

If you haven’t taken the opportunity yet, I encourage you to think about how you can celebrate your people this coming week and year. What systems do you need to incorporate to do this consistently? Your team completed another entire year. They likely achieved many important goals. They accomplished a lot in spite of a lot of headwinds. Show them that you care by recognizing what they accomplished. One year, one of my best leaders (in the history of leaders), Tom Young, celebrated our team with a really special lunch. He surprised us with a limo ride to a beautiful restaurant. He toasted our work and accomplishments as we shared a bottle of champagne on our way to the restaurant. It remains one of my favorite memories of celebrating our successes as a team. Maybe you don’t have the budget to do a team lunch with a limo ride (or the go ahead to meet in person yet) but you can have huge impact by sharing one piece of recognition for each of your team members. I’ve also worked with people that shared their appreciation with a gift. It would come in the mail. It was a fun surprise. But I often thought how much farther that appreciation would have gone if the leader would have also reached out personally. What if just four times a year, you started your team meeting sharing one thing that you love about each team member? From time to time, I would do that even for the teams that I didn’t lead. Your peers also appreciate feeling recognized for who they are and what they contribute to your organization. It might take you ten minutes to jot down one thing you really appreciate about each person, but you know what? They feel celebrated and truly recognized.

Life is hard right now for your people. Don’t let work be the hardest thing in their life. People can deal with a lot of shit when they work with a leader that knows that they’re number one job is to care for their people. Celebrating and Recognizing your people is just one way to show them that you care. If your truly interested in Finishing Well, make sure your people are sincerely celebrated for the work they do. Lead on!

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!


Published by encourageherelena

My name is Elena and I'm the Chief Encourager at Encourage Her Elena. Encouraging Women in business, at home and in community is my passion. I'm an author, speaker, and coach. After almost twenty years in Financial Services (the ultimate male dominated industry), I realized that women need to hear another voice. They need to hear their own voice and step into exactly who they were made to be.

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