celebrating small wins

Celebrating Small Wins: Recognizing and Rewarding Progress in Your Business

Ezra Cabrera | May 31, 2024


    It’s nearly impossible to foster an enriching and engaging work atmosphere if your company or startup doesn’t take the time to reward performance and employees’ small wins. Not only will this help keep employees motivated, but it will also keep them feeling confident and more focused.

    Many employees feel the best recognition is honest, authentic, and individualized, as well as makes top performers feel like their work is recognized. And celebrating your employee’s small wins is also good for your company. A positive atmosphere can manifest itself in ways ranging from higher stock returns and greater resilience during tough economic times to lower levels of burnout and turnover.

    Ready to take your company to the next level? Here are seven ways to enhance innovation, creativity, and confidence in your employees by rewarding their progress regularly.

    • 1. Be Attentive in One-on-One Meetings

      One-on-one meetings with employees can be helpful, but only if managers really listen to their employees' problems and accomplishments. A bad boss doesn’t listen, may talk over employees, and ignores their wins. Attend these sessions with an open mind and be sure to acknowledge when your employee brings up a particularly hard challenge they’ve overcome, a project they finished early, or any other type of success.

    • 2.  Consider Weekly Callouts

      Another way to acknowledge your employees for a job well done is to share updates or accomplishments in a more public setting each week. Maybe it’s at the top of a weekly report sent to the entire team, a shoutout in Slack, or a verbal acknowledgment in a weekly meeting.

      Whatever the setting, make this a regular practice so your employees know you’re paying attention to what they’re doing and appreciative of their efforts. You can also talk to human resources to see if there are ways to enact reward systems to help boost morale and encourage more innovation.

      Be sure to consider your employees’ preferences, too. Two of your managers might enjoy the attention they receive with weekly callouts, while another introverted manager might prefer an email callout or acknowledgment online.

    • 3. Ask Employees for Their Wins and Challenges Weekly

      If you feel a lack of connection to your employees’ accomplishments, you can make this a regular topic of discussion with them in weekly meetings. Ask them to share a few quick thoughts on what they think went well that week or something they’re proud of. Then ask them why, so you can be sure you understand the full scope of the time and effort they spent on a project. It will also give you better insight into how they tackled a problem.

      You can also ask about challenges and what they think the best solutions are. This can help your employees feel more trusted and independent and set them up for more wins in the future.

    • 4. Make Sure You Unpack the Impact of Their Wins

      We all like to hear we’re doing a good job, but it can be more motivating to understand how an accomplishment helped move the company forward. For example, let’s say you manage an employee who was able to complete a project ahead of schedule. They might be proud of the early completion but might not know that by completing their tasks early, they saved the company hundreds in additional expenses. And by moving on to a new project sooner, they help the company meet its quarterly revenue goals.

      Sharing the impact of your employees' actions helps them connect their work to larger business goals and better understand that their efforts matter.

    • 5. Explain How Accomplishments Help Their Teammates

      Helping the company can be a big goal for many. However, some employees are more motivated by how their actions and wins help their coworkers. For example, an employee who jumps on a task they weren’t assigned to, sees it through, and makes a big sale. That’s worth celebrating on its own, but learning the sale took pressure off teammates and improved communications between the client and others in the company can make employees ever more proud of their work.

      Be sure to share the impact of your employees’ wins on other coworkers. You should also share when their accomplishments help improve your workload, too.

    • 6. Be Careful Not to Shine the Spotlight Too Brightly on One Employee

      Even if you have a standout employee, it’s important for team morale to make sure you’re sharing the wins of everyone on your team. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recognize an employee who goes above and beyond regularly. But you can thank them for their efforts individually, rather than making the rest of your team feel like they’re not being fairly acknowledged.

    • 7. Don’t Just Point Out Team Wins, Either

      You might think you’re saving time, but congratulating a team rather than individuals can leave your employees feeling like they haven’t been properly celebrated. You might congratulate the design team, for example, on the company’s new brand guide. And while that might sound appropriate to you, not naming all of the designers who were a part of the project can make the thanks feel less sincere.

      Instead, take the time to call out the designers individually. If you can, acknowledge the key roles they played in the project. Individualized feedback goes a long way toward making employees feel more appreciated and valued.

    Take Time to Celebrate – It’s Worth It.

    It’s easy to get stuck in the daily grind of never-ending tasks and projects. But don’t let your constant workflow prevent you from acknowledging the great work your employees are doing. Celebrating their wins, whether it’s a successful project or a new time-saving enhancement, is one of the best ways to keep your employees feeling engaged and motivated.

    Not only will this help create a more innovative and empowering environment, but happy employees also tend to be more efficient and focused. It might seem difficult at first, but be sure to take the time to find ways to recognize and reward your employees for their hard work. It will go a long way to bettering your work life and instilling confidence in your employees.

    About the Author

    Ezra Neiel Cabrera has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Entrepreneurial Marketing. Over the last 3 years, she has been writing business-centric articles to help small business owners grow and expand. Ezra mainly writes for SMB Compass, but you can find some of her work in All Business, Small Biz Daily, LaunchHouse, Marketing2Business, and Clutch, among others. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in bed eating cookies and binge-watching Netflix.