Bosses Need to Celebrate Wins In Business

Bosses have to remember to praise people and recognize them before the project is completed not just afterward

Are you a compulsive workaholic like me?  All you think about is getting tasks done and achieving outcomes?  You are so busy, you forget about public holidays and then suddenly wonder why the next day has no meetings,  “Oh, tomorrow is a public holiday, that's why!”.  I have done that so many times.  Actually, we are about to go into Golden Week here in Japan, which has a number of public holidays and I was flummoxed when someone asked me what am I doing for Golden Week.  I hadn’t even thought about it.


Do you experience success but never think much about it, because you have already moved on to the next mountain to climb?  Are you racing by in life not smelling too many roses?  Are you gritting your teeth and constantly moving forward, like a shark that has to keep swimming to breathe?  Are you denying yourself the pleasures of success, because you worry these are only transient victories and the future battle needs to be constantly prepared for with no reduction in vigilance?  Are you just hard on yourself?


Well, that may work for you and me, but it won't necessarily work for the rest of the team.  This is the danger when you are the leader, you drive forward based on what you need, which is very little.  You are internally self-contained and self-motivated.  You don't value praise and are suspicious of compliments as attempts at flattery.  You are in constant motion, unable to rest or pause for reflection.  The danger is we can become dour, unsmiling, serious, no fun to be around.  We say dumb things like, “if you want a friend get a dog”.


We need to realize not everyone is constructed like us and that others need to have their wins celebrated.  The big ask in business is for everyone to step out of the magic circle.  That magic circle is the comfort zone within which we are totally and comfortably competent.  We have a range of experiences that allow us to fulfill our work priorities successfully.  We are reliable and people trust us to do what needs to be done because we know how to do it.


We always want higher production in our businesses, so we need people to do things in new ways or do new things.  If we keep doing the same things, in the same ways, then we have to expect the same results.  Either way, new things or new way, means coming out of our comfort zone and doing something different.


In Japan that is a BIG ask.  Fear of making a mistake is deeply rooted here.  Japan doesn't have the Aussie “she’ll be right mate” attitude of close enough is good enough.  This is a land of perfectionists, where there is a right way to do things called kata and that is that.  Making mistakes frowns upon a big time in Japan.  Because of all of this cultural preference, we need to support those tenuous steps outside the magic circle.  We shouldn’t be waiting for a massive win to be completed before we start planning celebrations.  We need to be celebrating small wins to encourage people to keep going into new territories, unexplored paths and take on the risk of the new.  When we are recognized for our good work we keep going.  Bosses have to remember to praise people and recognize them before the project is completed not just afterward.  That is hard to do because that is not the way we were brought up in business.


Celebrating wins requires some planning.  If you are not much of a party, party type like me, then get someone else to be a chief party person.  Find a reason to celebrate.  Get out of the office, break bread, drink together, and build team spirit.  I realized a long time ago, that if it depended on me, it would never happen, so I make sure it doesn’t depend on me.  I get others to do the planning and the executing.  My job is to turn up and say the words of recognition and encouragement – I am better at that bit.  You may need to do the same.


Rewarding people is not a one size fits all jobby either.  Find out what people like and give them that, not what you think would be good.  What I think would be good, would usually be doing more work.  As mentioned, as the boss, we have to understand not many people are like us or want to be like us.  What is interesting as a reward to one, may not be interesting to others.


Some might like to have time off, to be taken out to lunch by the boss, to receive a voucher so they can take the family to a fun park.  In Japan, it is a rare case that an individual wants to be showcased in front of everyone else for their excellent work.  In most instances, they feel embarrassed and fearful that in a group culture stepping into the limelight has many dangers.  It will be different for everyone and our job as the leader is to know what they want.  How would we do that?  Well, we would ask them for a start and then make it happen when we want to celebrate wins.


If the boss is doing a good job communicating with the team members, then there is a strong chance that the rewards will be in line with what motivates that person.  When we know that, we know how to encourage them to come out of their comfort zone and try to do new things that will drive the business forward.  Remember, we personally may not need anything from others to be motivated but not many are like us, so look to what the majority needs and provide that.

Dale Carnegie Tokyo Japan sends newsletters on the latest news and valuable tips for solving business, workplace and personal challenges.