This article was written by Jeanna Roach, Marketing Director for Betenbough Companies, and contains material from the Betenbough Companies Leader’s Guide that was adapted from excerpts by Andy Stanley’s book Making Vision Stick.
The word celebrate evokes so many positive emotions in me. Memories of birthdays, baby showers, and award recognitions come flooding into my mind, and joy, honor, and elation delight my heart. But as quickly as those emotions come, they are overtaken by the sheer fact and recognition that as a leader – I need to be better at stopping to celebrate. I need to stop moving from project to project or goal to goal and celebrate the “wins” in between. But celebrating for the sake of celebrating isn’t enough, we need to stop and be intentional about what we celebrate!
As parents, we fully understand that positive reinforcement around behaviors lends itself to repetition. It’s why my husband, Andrew, and I will take our kids out for ice cream when they get all As in a six weeks or when our daughter received student of the month for her entire elementary school that we adjusted all plans that night and let her choose a place for dinner. We want our children to experience the joy, honor, and excitement that comes with making value-based choices and it should be the same in our organizations.
In our business, we have a set of house rules (better known as core values), and we have learned that celebrating them is imperative towards building a culture that exemplifies them daily and not just allowing them to sit on walls, value-less. Over the years, our team has brainstormed a host of ways to intentionally celebrate our values and we have found that through celebration, multiplication has occurred.
Quarterly, we gather for all-company meetings called Family Meetings. During each one of those Family Meetings, we carve out time to honor a few team members that have exemplified our core values and celebrate them with an Impact Award. These peer-nominated awards are accompanied by video interviews of team members sharing stories about how the winner demonstrated a specific core value as well as a monetary gift from the company showing our collective appreciation. We have found that sharing these real-life examples with our more than 250 employees paints a clearer picture of those values lived out and encourages them to do the same.
And, not only do we celebrate Impact Awards during those Family Meetings, but we intentionally theme each of those meetings around one of our four core values. This means that during our day together we are hyper-focused on highlighting examples of one specific core value so team members can catch a vision for the variety of ways that one of those values permeates our culture.
Here’s an organizational principle we don’t want to lose sight of: What’s celebrated is repeated. So, if that’s true, what do you celebrate?
To make vision stick, an organization needs to pause long enough to celebrate wins along the way. Celebrating the wins does more to clarify vision than anything else. One way to ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction is to celebrate real-world events that illustrate what we envision. Build these events into the rhythm of your organization. Celebrations create the opportunity for an “a-ha” moment. “Oh, so that’s what you’re talking about.” Celebrating a win incarnates the vision, bringing clarity in a way that words alone cannot.
Every organization celebrates something. But if celebrations don’t align with our vision, what’s celebrated will absolutely overpower the vision and determine the course of our organization. What’s celebrated is repeated. The behaviors that are celebrated are repeated. The decisions that are celebrated are repeated. The values that are celebrated are repeated.
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