7 Benefits for Teams that Celebrate Small Wins

It’s hard to stop and celebrate the small wins. You are busy. Your team is busy. We all are busy. We are so busy we regularly miss opportunities.

So why should you add something else to the mix that will only make you busier?

Years ago, I received a letter from a colleague of mine. It wasn’t just any colleague. it was a letter from the CEO of the company and I was honestly a little worried about what the person might have to say to me.

You see, I knew I wasn’t a perfect employee. I knew I had many areas of growth that were needed in my personal and professional life. Like you have probably felt before, I knew that the CEO could probably find someone more qualified that I was to do my job.


You know the emotions that were going through my mind. How am I going to take care of my family? What are people going to think of me after I get let go? What about all the work that I have done up until this point? Do they not even care about all the effort I have already put in?

As I opened the letter, I frantically unfolded the paper. In my frenetic race to read the contents, I completely missed the fact that there was something included in the envelope in addition to the letter.

But as I began reading the letter, you can guess what I felt. You know the feeling of relief when the letter you are reading is nowhere near as bad as you imagined that it would be. You know the relief that comes over you. You know the sense of regret and thinking to yourself “why in the world was I worried about this in the first place.”

The CEO hadn’t sent me a letter firing me from my job. In fact, nowhere in the letter were there any negative comments whatsoever. You might be wondering, what in the world was in the letter?

It was a short thank you and congratulatory letter. The CEO wrote to congratulate me. You see, he was the kind of guy who liked to celebrate small wins of those within our organization. He didn’t just celebrate the big things. He liked to celebrate small wins of small people like me throughout the organization.

Here are 7 Benefits for Teams that Celebrate Small Wins:

1) You’ll Create Momentum if You Celebrate Small Wins

When you stop to celebrate small wins, the people you celebrate will start working harder, longer, and better. They will get more inspired than ever to do their job and to do it well. They’ll get reenergized.

As you celebrate small wins, if you do it consistently, momentum will not only increase in a brief instant but also continue to increase more and more over time. I think we would all agree that none of us would be against this type of change.

2) If You Celebrate Small Wins, You Reinforce Positive Outcomes

People that focus on the negative all the time are miserable to work with or for. You know what it’s like when this person constantly emphasizes the negative side of their marriage, their career, their kids, or their friends.

All you want to do is leave. Why not do the opposite?

'When you celebrate small wins, you create momentum, hope, and teamwork.' -- @bradbridges #leadership #coaching Click To Tweet

When you celebrate the wins at work or at home, you reinforce the positive outcomes you or your team has experienced. These positive outcomes already impact you and your team in a good way. Why not celebrate them and create additional motivation for you team to experience them once again.

If you don’t know what your wins are, I suggest clarifying them. Don’t just clarify your annual wins but drill down to the quarterly level.

3) You Motivate The Correct Actions When You Celebrate Small Wins

Small wins create momentum. We’ve already discussed that and we all intuitively know it.

But when you celebrate even the smallest of wins, you get people excited about the right actions. In other words, these wins always point back to some smaller actions that took place in order to get your team there.

Why not motivate these “correct” actions rather than motivating people to do the wrong things?

4) Celebrating Gives Hope to People Facing Challenges

You face tremendous pressure at work and at home. Stop and ask yourself how you are giving your team hope.

If you point people to the small wins your team has experienced, you not only increase momentum and focus on the right things but you also give people hope of an improved future or that their past actions mattered.

I struggle to imagine how someone wouldn’t want to do this for their team.

5) Celebrating Wins Doesn’t Focus on Behavior Modification or Weakness Fixing

When you take time to celebrate small wins, you also take time away that you could have spent trying to modify behaviors or fix people’s weaknesses. We all have weaknesses. None of us likes to have to fix them or spend all our time on them.

Shift the focus from what people do poorly to celebrating what they have already done well. Celebrate their strengths.

(One rather minor but also potentially major caveat to this one is that you don’t want to celebrate small wins that endorse the wrong behaviors. A case in point here would be a small win that was achieved through morally corrupt actions, decisions, or information. If you celebrate small wins (the “ends”) that result from a immoral actions (the “means”), you have chosen to endorse not only the small wins but also the immoral means. I doubt any of us want to do that. If you do, you may need a very careful gut check to assess your motivation for success in your context.

6) Celebrating Wins Attracts Others to Join the Team

Everyone wants to be a part of a high functioning team. I would argue that increasingly today we all want to be a part of a fun team that not only gets things done but enjoys each other and other fun events as a team.

When others see your team celebrate small wins, what do they think about your team? Do they appear to be very interested in your team or not so much? I would guess that they at minimum walk away with intrigue about what your team is like or how their team would be different if people acted more like your team.

At the end of the day, you will end up attracting more people to your team. You will get people who fit your culture and want to also celebrate small wins (I did another post on 5 leadership characteristics your team will love. You should check it out too)

7) Celebrating Wins Shapes the Overarching Narrative

The overarching narrative of your organization can either be told by others or told by you and your team. Which would you prefer? We should all aim to at least share in the telling of the story of our brand or organization. If not, then we are the equivalent of a parent who takes no interest in their child but sends checks every year to help with costs (can’t say that any of us would want to be known as that parent).

A powerful recent example was written by Donald Miller. In his case, he describes a major blunder by someone who chose not to carefully articulate and shape their own narrative. His post illustrates what happens when you not only don’t celebrate small wins but also don’t communicate your story to shape the narrative.

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Look over the other 9 coaching questions high performance leaders ask or dig deeper into a specific question (this post will be updated as future posts are added).