I ran across an old Harvard Business Review article about “The Power of Small Wins” and it really stuck with me. How many times do we hear that we’re supposed to focus on BIG – big thinking, big ideas, big wins, etc.? You get the point. I don’t believe we can forget the importance of the small things too.
Small activities can lead to big change. I’d like to think we know that.
But what we might forget to do is congratulate ourselves for accomplishing those small steps. I know that I’m guilty of this. I take on a big project and break it down into small steps to make it much more manageable. Or a set a big goal for myself and establish milestones for accomplishing the goal. Then I don’t celebrate my success until the big thing is done. Why not give ourselves a little pat on the back or some form of reward as we’re accomplishing those smaller milestones?
I recently heard this term called “micro-victories” also called “micro-wins”. It sounds exactly like what I’m describing – a way to celebrate a small victory or success. The reason I’m bringing this up is to encourage us to celebrate our micro-wins at every level.
On a personal level: When we set goals for ourselves, we need to think about celebrating our success. Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves are private and we don’t really make a public statement about them until they’ve been accomplished. Getting a professional certification is an example. I know many people who keep their studying on the down-low because they don’t want the added pressure of having to tell people the outcome of the exam. So, they wait until they pass and say, “I did it! Yea me!” Which is fine but be sure to celebrate some successes along the way, like passing a sample quiz or completing a certification prep course.
On a team level: Many times, when we work on a team or a project, we have smaller milestones that must be accomplished along the way. For example, during a software implementation, there are many steps that must happen before the project is considered completed. The team should celebrate achieving those milestones. The project lead or department manager should encourage employees to celebrate those moments. Not only does it provide a level of recognition for the team’s hard work to date, but it encourages the team to stay focused and motivated on the big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG).
On an organizational level: Speaking of BHAGs, companies create big goals for themselves all the time. Those big goals are made up of several small ones. Organizations should provide regular status reports to employees where goals are concerned and use those updates as a way to celebrate what’s been accomplished so far. Especially when the big goal is something that might take years. Equally important is the need to celebrate successes when there could be a small shift or adjustment in the big plan. The last thing companies want is employees to perceive that shift as a sign of failure (when it’s not) and potentially demotivate the team.
Micro-victories or micro-celebrations are a great way for individuals, teams, and organizations to recognize their successes, stay focused on the big picture, and keep motivation at a high level. Because all of those little steps will be what creates the “next BIG thing” in the organization.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the 34th Street Graffiti Wall in Gainesville, FL18