Organizations get caught up in planning and execution, but sometimes forget to stop and celebrate the results. If something went horribly wrong, someone will probably point it out, but when was the last time someone in your organization pointed out something that went incredibly right?
Part of the communication process is the feedback loop. It is impossible to know if someone has understood what you have said if there is no feedback. In an organization, the feedback loop is evaluation. It is impossible to know if the organization’s efforts were successful without evaluation. After an event, a project, a launch, or whatever your organization does, do you, as a team, invite feedback and celebrate creative contribution?
When I was one, I was left for a moment in my highchair while my mother attended to one of my five older siblings. Just in reach of the highchair was an electrical outlet. Being a curious toddler, I grabbed the cord that hung from the outlet and tugged. A large percolator filled with 210 degree coffee fell toward me, and I experienced 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 2/3 of my body. At the hospital, I received skin grafts and, because of the risk of infection, my parents were told my chances of survival. The doctors suggested that this might be the last few minutes they might spend with me.
Fast forward to 2006. I was working on my second Masters degree, married, and called to ministry. A good friend had non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and I decided to attempt a marathon with Team in Training to raise awareness and show my support. In six months, I went from a person who had never participated in any athletic activity to a person who completed a marathon.
Once I had recovered, I sat down at my computer and wrote an email to my mother. In essence it asked if she ever thought, while she stared down at her little mummy baby in the hospital 38 years earlier, that her baby would one day complete a marathon. In that email I told her that she had instilled in me the belief that there was nothing I couldn’t do. Her belief in me translated to my belief in me. Self-confidence came from mom-confidence.
There is no more creative contribution one can experience than that given by a loving parent. And in that moment, I felt that her creative contribution needed to be celebrated. I don’t know if she had ever been acknowledged in that way before. She was so proud of us, but I needed to tell her how proud I was of her.
In the organization, we cannot wait 38 years to complete the feedback loop. Immediately after an event occurs, tell the people who contributed how proud you are of them. Give specific details about what went right and how they contributed to that. (We must also evaluate what went wrong, but that’s a post for another day.) Celebrate the creative contribution that was made, and let people know how proud you are of them.