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Satay Party

Parties celebrating successes can be as simple as a satay party
clip_image001[7]In 1999, I returned to Malaysia and was part of a team tasked to turn around an organisation that was unproductive and had significant issues and challenges. Within two years, we succeeded in growing the business by five times with the same workforce. The business grew to become one of the most respected organisations in the world in its industry and many best practices came from this organisation. Many have asked me how we managed this turnaround and in fact, a number of organisations in Malaysia have modelled their transformation around us.
You might ask, what was the secret? In one word – culture. We had to re-create a new culture, with new rituals to reposition ourselves for success. And one key way we did this was through celebrations (yes, you read that right!). As leaders of the organisation, our key mandate was to set goals and inspire our teams to achieve those goals. We pushed our people hard to achieve these goals. Some were small goals, some were large goals and some looked impossible. Yet, each of the goals was achieved and more.
Part of our success in getting these goals achieved was what we did after the goals were realised. I remember leading a number of groups where we locked a small group of five to 10 employees in a conference room and asked them to brainstorm and come up with ideas to solve an issue. As soon they conjured up a possible solution, we got them to execute and act on their solution. Once the solution was implemented and the issue was resolved, we immediately threw a big party to celebrate the success.
Powerful messages
We started with small problems which were easily resolved. Once they were resolved, we would order 1,500 sticks of satay (not expensive at all!) and some other food, call all our employees (about 400 of them) and have our “satay-party” ritual of celebrating success. Work stopped for 30 minutes and everyone had a party with lots of satay to eat. We also made a big deal of the team, highlighting each member, and showcasing its success to the entire organisation. It was a simple, inexpensive celebration with significant effects. Initially, we probably had these celebrations monthly, whenever there was a success story. But as more and more challenges were met, we started having them weekly and sometimes even a few times in a week. These mini celebrations of success send powerful messages to everyone that we will honour you if you succeed and more importantly, when you succeed, the whole team would celebrate with you (note: everyone got satay including those who were not involved in the project). Soon, everyone wanted to be part of these special teams as he wanted to be successful and be the reason for another great “satay-party”.
There are many other simple and effective ways to celebrate success. Are you celebrating success in your organisation? At Leaderonomics, we often have celebrations. Here are my top seven ways to celebrate success and show your employees that you care:
1. Write notes to employees
I learnt this from Jack Welch. He was always writing notes to employees and many of my early bosses used to write little notes to thank me. Writing notes beats getting crappy email messages. And you can store them to re-read when you are feeling down. In fact, a few years ago, I was walking around the office and noticed that many employees had actually pinned my note to their desk or walls. This inspired me to keep writing these notes.
2. Advertise the accomplishments in your company newsletter or in
If your team or team member has achieved something amazing, advertise it. Talk about it. In fact, a number of organisations have leveraged to publicise their high achievers in the newspaper. People love to see their photographs and achievements talked about, especially in a company newsletter or the national newspaper. Public recognition will not only bring the best out of the honoured team or individuals, it will cause others to crave similar attention and work harder to ensure they are honoured next.
3. Create Celebration Rituals
A number of years ago, whilst I was filming a case study on a Malaysian organisation, I noticed a peculiar ritual they practised. Each time a call centre rep closed a sale, the team would get up and burst a balloon. It was amazing seeing how excited people were jumping up from their seats and getting ready to burst a balloon. For this organisation, this celebration ritual helped each person celebrate each time he or she closed a sale. What are some celebration rituals that you have in your organisation?
4. Give out real medals and trophies
Many people think it is crazy but I have actually done this and it has worked. Sometimes, to celebrate, we would recreate the Olympic games award presentation ceremony (and even play the national anthem of a country) and honour specific people with real medals and trophies. Most of them gasp and I always get an earful from my finance manager but people love things that they can keep. Instead of a medal, give them something meaningful which they can keep and look back on. Medals and trophies work great as they are visual and people feel great keeping them on their desk.
clip_image001[9]5. Throw a surprise party
Don’t wait for the company annual dinner. Be ready to throw a surprise party whenever a goal is met. Sometimes, it’s going down to get some ice-cream to celebrate or maybe it’s a quick call to the pizza guys to get some nice, tasty pizza into the office. Whatever it is, make sure your team knows that this “surprise” is in honour of them and the work they have done.

6. Plan a company celebration with their families
At Leaderonomics, every year, if we achieve strong results, we show gratitude by having the staff and their family celebrate together. It may cost a bomb but having the whole team with their loved ones celebrating together has an amazing bonding effect on the team. Last year we took them to Club Med and next year, the goal is for the team to have fun in Brazil (note: We do inform our team that these trips are subject to us meeting impossible goals – which they duly make possible somehow each year).
7. Have celebrations of different types and sizes
Having parties are great but not something everyone enjoys. Be different. Sometimes, take the team out for a movie. Maybe have a quick lunch celebration instead of a massive dinner event. Or a simple acknowledgement at the staff meeting may suffice. Keep varying your celebrations and keep people guessing what’s in store next.
Roshan Thiran is CEO of Leaderonomics, a social enterprise. To watch great videos on how Leaderonomics celebrates success, subscribe to Leaderonomics TV on YouTube (user: leaderonomicsmedia) and watch the ‘Life @ Leaderonomics’ segments.
Tag : Sosial
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