The Importance of Celebrating Small Victories

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Big, audacious goals are important. Most companies put extensive research and strategy into setting annual goals that will guide their workforces throughout the year and serve as the finish line looming on the horizon. And when those goals are achieved, a celebration often follows to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication.

But, just as important as the big celebration at the end of a hard fought battle to achieve a major goal is celebrating the small victories along the way. Even the most dedicated employees can burnout when the going gets tough, so reveling in minor milestones that push a project toward completion helps maintain engagement and gives a motivational boost.

According to research conducted by Harvard Business School featured in the Harvard Business Review:

“Even ordinary, incremental progress can increase people’s engagement in the work and their happiness during the workday. Across all types of events, our participants reported that a notable proportion (28%) of incidents that had a minor impact on the project had a major impact on people’s feelings about it. Because inner work life has such a potent effect on creativity and productivity, and because small but consistent steps forward, shared by many people, can accumulate into excellent execution, progress events that often go unnoticed are critical to the overall performance of organizations.”

So, what are the key benefits of celebrating small victories on the path toward achieving major goals?

  • Showing progress: The best set goals outline a clear path toward success with measurable tasks or achievements along the way that show you are progressing in the right direction. It’s easier to avoid burnout on a project when there’s always a tangible milestone within reach.
  • Building commitment: When working toward accomplishing a major goal, it’s important to have full commitment from every member of the team. Celebrating small victories along the way helps everyone feel united and personally invested in encouraging each other to reach the next stage.
  • Allowing opportunities to "fine tune" along the way: Small victories are also beneficial when you don’t achieve them right away. If you find progress has stalled and that next milestone becomes harder and harder to reach, you have an early opportunity to assess the situation and make necessary adjustments to get the overall project back on track.


Make it meaningful
Although there is no shortage of ways to celebrate small victories, the most important factor is to ensure the celebration is meaningful. That doesn’t mean you have to roll out the red carpet and strike up the band for every little accomplishment, but you do want your employees to feel the hard work they’ve put in so far is worthwhile. From giving public recognition for individual accomplishment in an end-of-the-week team meeting to letting employees share the accomplishments that they personally consider small victories, the important thing is to foster a team that focuses on always pushing forward and striving for the next big accomplishment that will ultimately lead to achieving your goals.

Alyssa Chumbley is vice president of Express Employment Professionals.

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