Celebrating Success

When we are busy we not only forget to stop and assess where we have been, but we also tend to forget to celebrate our successes as well.  When we have to decide between stopping progress and recognizing where we are compared with moving on to the next thing, most of us decide to move on to the next thing.  A strong cycle of improvement should include planning for the improvement, taking action, evaluating the outcome, and celebrating success.  Celebration is the way we recharge for the next cycle and provide interim rewards as we move to the next level in the journey.

Just as we tend to be overcome with the journey, organizations forget to stop and celebrate.  The HCS 2010 Employee Recognition survey found that in a sample of 400 organizations that only 22 percent recognized major accomplishments with a celebration while only 14 percent celebrated interim successes.  Even when considering the years before the economic downturn, only 27 percent had regular celebrations when successful outcomes were realized.  Although the human resources function oversees most employee recognition programs among the respondents, organizes the majority of the events that recognizes achievement, and coaches managers on how to recognize success and progress, it was one of the least likely to celebrate their own success.  Only three percent of respondents actually indicated that human resources had celebrated their successes in the last three years.

This reluctance to recognize success has three sizable ramifications.  First, it perpetuates a feeling that what we do in human resources does not possess the same level of importance as other business functions.  Second, it results in most human resource professionals being hesitant or even bashful to share their successes with the rest of the organization.  Finally, when priorities are determined, those that are perceived to add the most value tend to have the most support for resources.  Consequently, not recognizing and communicating success significantly hampers the future effectiveness of human resources.

What is it about the human resources function that places less importance on internal celebration?

  • history
  • culture
  • self-view


As human resources evolved from being a support function to playing a larger strategic and operational role, perceptions did not always change at the same pace.  More than a few organizations talked about the new role for human resources and acted slowly to actually implement the change.  This gap between rhetoric and reality created a doubt among human resource staff that their contribution was as important as other business functions.  If human resources place itself on a lower level than other business functions, then its needs will be minimized as well.


Given the breadth of things going on in an organization, it is easy for recognition to be made a lower level priority.  If an organization does not possess a culture of recognition, it will not be part of the regular behavioral routine.  A successful organization takes the time to recognize success.  Human resources staff, like any other staff needs to celebrate their successes.


A common human trait is to acknowledge our own achievements when others do.  In other words, someone becomes more comfortable recognizing their own accomplishments as others comment on their contribution or success.  We need to recognize the contribution of those that work for us even if others do not.  If you are a leader in human resources, take the time to recognize the contribution made by your staff even if your organization fails to do it.  Our self-image makes a big difference in our level of confidence, commitment to work, and level of engagement.


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