12 thoughts on “A question for ya: Office celebrations”

  1. For our company, it really depends. If its an accomplishment within the department, we usually (as the managers) spring for lunch for the team. If its an individual, we may provide them a small bonus, take that person someplace nice for lunch, or provide a day off with pay. If its beyond a small group like that, generally its a written congratulations and nothing more. On rare occasion, the director may buy lunch for the whole group under him. Typically though (as noted above), we celebrate with food.

  2. If we are lucky someone might say thankyou to us. If we are really lucky someone might acknowledge the effort made by the department (not the team) to the whole organisation.

  3. Same thing as above…maybe our direct Sup will spring for lunch or a latte, maybe a high five. Today I complete a month-long project of coordinating re-branding of our entire fleet of company vehicles…literally, the last one comes back from the shop today. I will personally celebrate by taking the next three days off to enjoy the holiday with my family!

  4. Great ways I’ve seen to celebrate have been to take the team out for lunch, or order pizza in, or to give everyone a free T-shirt with the product’s logo on it. But these things only work if the team is a real team and is a happy team. Otherwise, they’re just silly perks, ways for management to tell the team that they ought to feel proud for working here.

    In one instance I saw, management had a release party, complete with booze, to which the individual contributors were not invited. A word of advice: Don’t do that.


  5. I think a celebration is a nice way to say to your guys what a great job. But it’s very important the way you celebrate the achievements of a person or group.

    I think that the most important thing that an employee appreciate from the company is to give him the credit of the job it has done and most importantly to let him know that the achievement or goal does matter to the company.

    It probably does not need a celebration with cheering, cake and everyone admiring the guy like a superhero. I use to worked at a Bank and my boss like to celebrate when a goal was met in a very special way. He would take you to lunch or just talk to you in his office and tells you how important was your achievement. But the nice thing about the whole thing was that he explained me how significant my change have been to the bank operations. e.g. I’m a network and security administrator, by the time we rebuild the network and I optimize the communications with the remote offices he told me, “Thanks to you the number of credits the bank can handle remotely have increased in 200%”, and that actually makes me feel great. I was making a difference for this institution. I also must say that my boss was also clever enough to make you the same comparison when things go wrong so in a good way you feel responsible for the success and failure of your company, and if you see it on the bright side, you are so part of the company that you share their success and failures as well. If it does not affect you at all, it’s bad news.

    Another important thing before you congratulate or celebrate someone or some group achievements is to be sure you give the credit to the person that deserves it. Sometime the big chiefs companies tend to congratulate only the manager or the head of the department and delegate the rest of the congratulations to lower level manager(which sometimes even “forgets”, intentionally or not, to congratulate the team) and so on. The worst thing you can do(worst the even not congratulating anyone) is to congratulate the wrong person. Companies usually tend to congratulate people that were not part of the achievement, companies arguments are that they are equal to all employees and everyone deserves the credit, they are a team. You’re are not promoting teamwork with that, you’re destroying it. The best way to encourage teamwork is to show the people that if they are part of the group, they can achieve great things, if they work with their colleagues and peers. If you regard someone for doing nothing, they will learn that doing nothing is good.

    Some manager think that just breaking a meeting for 2-3 minutes to congratulate someone is a big achievement, some other buy cake, some other invite you to a couple of beers by the end of the day. It’s not the way you celebrate what makes people happy at work, think of the following questions:

    1.-Who am I congratulating?
    2.-Why am I congratulating them?

    If you know these 2 questions, you will find the best and personalized way to celebrate an achievement with your employee or group.

  6. We rock and we know it. We don’t want to celebrate with you. We barely even know you. We want you to reward our team’s achievements. We want to see a piece of the pie. We want to high-five each other, then collect a percentage of what “the man” is earning from us.

    Then we want time off. A little is good, but we want the option to take a sabatical – maybe a month. We’ll finally spend some time with our families. Maybe hang out with each other. We want to think and innovate. We want resources to put towards the next projects, ones we came up with, which are fun and challenging for us that coincidentally make you more money (which we hope to collect a piece of). We want to work at home until 10 AM so that we don’t have to sit in traffic for 2 hours.

    We want small tokens like “maid service” and “car washes” and “dry cleaning pickup” so that we don’t have to bother thinking about those things. We want educational grants that help us do more for you, but we also want those grants for our families because when they are happy so are we.

    We don’t want to hang out at your party. When we stand around the room and eat your cake and pizza we’re cynically laughing at your stupid gestures and wondering if we’ve stood there long enough to be seen so that we can hide out at Starbucks for the next thirty minutes, maybe sit in the sun and enjoy the day for a moment. Remember the sunlight? We want a channel that feels safe where we can tell you how your business can run better – and then we want you to do something about it… hell, we want to be a part of it!

    And if we’re not happy, we want you to notice. Yes, we want you to read our minds… but if you can’t do that, at least pay attention to the whispers. When it feels like morale has dropped.. it has! And now you want to party? Yeah, we rocked this time. And we’ll rock the next time. But the fact is, it pretty much sucks watching certain people (you know who you are) leech off of our work.

    We don’t want to celebrate with you.

  7. I get an email from my supervisor saying “Thank you for all your hard work.”

    That’s pretty much it.

  8. We just finished the launch of a new website, which has been quite challenging because the developers had made a lot of mistakes which meant the project took twice as long as promised.

    To celebrate the launch, the project manager brought a wonderful cake to the evaluation meeting with the developers. This started the evaluation meeting with a positive atmosphere and instead of pointing fingers at each other we cooperatively talked about how we had felt during the project and what we could do different next time.

    At the end of the meeting, the project manager invited us for drinks and dinner with the whole crew (both people at our organization and the developers who we hired) at a later date. I think that’s a very nice thing to do, as we will be working together in the future so it’s better to get along.

  9. I just started with a new job with a new team, and a week or so ago, I decided to reward them for thier hard work (even though we didn’t see a lot of progress at that time) by taking them out for dinner and an improvisational show next week for our holiday party – out of my own pocket, because I wanted to make sure that they knew that I was going to take care of them for working hard and coping well with the change that I needed to implement to make us more efficient.

    Well, this week, we noticed a dramatic slump in our workload and our backlog was virtually erased – the backlog problem was generating at least 50% of our contacts with our customers as they called continuously to see why we were so slow getting back to them. With some help from my VP, we got things straightened around and my department, only after a month of being here, is now at a high level of productivity and we are functioning as a team.

    I reported back on our vastly improved situation, and later that afternoon my VP pulled me aside to tell me that they would prefer to pay for our holiday party, instead of myself, because of how impressed they were with our work. So what am I going to do? I’m going to take some of that money and put it towards the Wii our department has started to save up for.

    We’re a startup and can’t pay too well (yet) – but VP and CEO are of the same mind as I am – success should be rewarded.

  10. It depends on who’s the winning team is. I mean manager wise. Some departments merely use the email-method, mentioned above. Some would like to order a truckload of champagne and let the success show.

    The last mentioned group gets moderated by the upper management and peer managers, which is kind of sad.

    One of my friends works at an office where the whole company celebrates new deals and won cases together over a nice cup of bubbling fun.
    This sounds fun, and I think this is enough of a celebration, getting together and feeling good about ourselves.

    That’s all it takes.

  11. I think it doesn’t matter what form the celebrations come it, as long as the right people receive credit for what they did.

    Actually, just about 10 mins ago, my boss walked in, looked at my stack of papers and asked what I was doing. I explained it to her and she just stood there for a while, as if she’s digesting me and my work, and then patted my shoulder and said, “I know this work is laborious, but thank you for doing it.”

    Now, she’s never actually touched me before (let alone pat my shoulder), or said anything like this before, eventhough she’s always known that it’s shitty backlog work I’ve inherited due to incompetence in her management of the project before I got here, but this sincere little gesture means more to me than that Christmas dinner she took us out on last year.

    A friend of mine works in a company that pays for cases and cases of wines and then ask certain employees to go in and enjoy a glass or two on certain occasions. But, as my friend said, they’re really just wine and what her bosses say actually substantiate to nothing.

    So there you go, give us genuine respect and appreciation, and I’ll go that extra mile for you. (And I guess this is not applicable just for work, but for friends, family, etc etc….)

  12. Ben: Food is a huge part of almost all human celebrations, so it’s not suprising that it’s the same at work. Sounds nice!

    Mr. Pete: Hmmmm!!

    Wendy C: I hope you enjoyed your days off :o) Seems like a shame not to celebrate AT work.

    Tim: You touch on a central point here. When the mood in a team is good, these things work. When things are not working well, they’re seen as shallow, cynical attempts to distract people from the real problems. Having a release party wo. inviting the people who actually did the work is a little… stupid. A lot in fact!

    Gerardo: Your bank manager’s style sounds great – I really like the personal approach. May I use that story in my book? Also your points on who to celebrate and how are spot on! Thank you!

    Chris D: I agree – getting a piece of the pie and some benefits that make life easier and more enjoyable, like sabbaticals, is great! And yes, we want bosses who know how we’re doing.

    Pascale: There’s the food again :o) Sounds like a nice way to celebrate and, as you write, a great basis for future collaborations.

    shel: I like that you rewarded the hard work, at a time where the results weren’t yet showing. Sometimes people do excellent work, but the results only show up later! And I applaud you for ding this out of your own pocket. You rock!

    I only have one question: When can I come try your Wii? :o)

    Miika: You’re right – the central point is to get together and feel good! How we do it is just a tool.

    Office Lady: I agree completely – it’s about genuine respect and appreciation. Have you thanked your boss for mentioning it, and told her how much this kind of appreciation means? It will increase the chance of it happening again :o)

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