My four-person executive team carved out two days to meet to review, brainstorm, and update our company’s strategic plan. We started the meeting, like we do in so many planning sessions, by listing out all the victories we’ve enjoyed as a company during the previous quarter.
The list was long and full of things we should have been taking great pride in, which is when I observed something unsettling. As we went round and round the table sharing victories, each of us kept qualifying the victories.
“We completed connecting the video training library up to our client app, of course, we still have to…”
“We had a record month in June in terms of the number of enrollments to the business coaching program, but remember that was because…”
“Our online leads were up 50 percent, but we still have to…”
I realized that this pattern, one played out by so many small business owners reflected two things. First, our fear as business owners is that if we get comfortable with the status quo, we’ll get complacent. And second, our internal drive to get on to the next project, task, improvement or version rushes us right past the progress or accomplishment. It’s as if we don’t even really see the victory because we see all that’s still left to be done.
We consider our to-do list will never be completed and that we just don’t have the luxury of doing our projects as perfectly as we can imagine them potentially in our mind.
But we’re left missing out on the satisfaction and enjoyment of celebrating our progress.
You might wonder why this matters, but it does. Your attitude as a leader impacts your entire team. In my work coaching over 1,000 small business owners over the past 20 years, I’ve learned that when you the business owner don’t celebrate your victories, you tacitly deny your team the opportunity to celebrate theirs. This impacts their internal sense of fulfillment, growth, and passion for their jobs.
Here are five simple things you can do as a small business owner to help your team feel the progress they are making.
- Start your meetings and team huddles with “team victories.” Go around the room, and have every team member share a quick company victory since your last meeting. Make it easy for everyone to participate by giving people 30-60 seconds to think of and jot down a victory so when it’s their turn to share they don’t draw a blank.
- Create a “Victory Wall.” If you have an office, post your victories on a board in the office. You can use sticky notes or write on markers, but the key is to make your progress visible. Encourage your team to post directly.
- Create a “Victories” section on your weekly reporting. This lets your team list their victories when they report (via app or email) to their manager at work. This suggestion ties directly into suggestion four.
- Acknowledge your team member’s victories. This can be in a one-to-one conversation, walking through your office, or over lunch in the field. One of your key jobs as a small business owner is to inspire and retain your top people. Helping your key team feel validated and seen for their victories is an important way to do this.
- Share your quarterly victories in one list with your team. There is a power and impact when they see how much you have collectively accomplished quarter by quarter. If you have a company Victory Board, send out a picture with your comments. If not, simply highlight the accumulated progress you have collectively made.
Teams thrive on making progress; your individual team members want to feel a part of a winning team. Let them see where they and the company are winning. This will translate into a more motivated team with a deeper commitment and sense of purpose in the workplace.