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  • Jocelyn Briddell

Let's Celebrate!

Blogging Out Loud NOW! is officially one year old this month -- Happy Anniversary! This blog was born in a time that brought many social justice issues to the forefront largely due to the pandemic although we know many of these issues have been around throughout our nation’s history. But we wanted to provide a platform that gave a voice to these issues from how the pandemic impacted secondary education, understanding who is on the right side of America, to leadership as nonprofit CEOs and what makes a good leader in today’s climate? It’s been an exciting year having monthly guest bloggers give their voice to this new venture.

Celebrations are so very important in the context of leadership. People in our communities and organizations need to feel valued as they strive to accomplish the goals set out by the organization. They know that they are a part of something that is exciting, that they believe in, and therefore, have made a commitment to. When a goal is accomplished it means that the values and vision of the group is on point. They have achieved small wins.

In order for the “Celebration or recognition to be meaningful, good leaders must establish and foster authentic relationships with the members of the organization. Poor relationships get you nowhere and people will feel your thanks is disingenuous. Instead, spend time with members of the organization. In individual meetings ask them first how they are doing before getting to business. Follow up on ‘life events’ by asking how it went (how was your son’s wedding…?). Send a birthday card. Let them know that you appreciate and really care about them. I have often thought of times in my professional career where I made some poor decisions about saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. A joke you may think is funny may not be seen the same way by the recipient. I regret it to this day as not only did it hurt the employee but it hurt our relationship (there is none). So bounce your “ideas” off of someone you trust in the organization before delivering…and listen to them!

Let’s get to some of the ideas you can do to ensure that people are valued, recognized and are seen as invaluable members to the organization. My all-time favorite is that I love writing personal notes. And I don’t always mean by email either. Handwritten notes are so effective especially since we rarely do these days. Having staff arrive in the morning with an envelope addressed to them on their desk creates a really good feeling! In other circumstances where it’s not an employee and you don’t have a personal mailing address, email is fine. As the anchor of this blog I always send a note of appreciation to our guest bloggers. I recognize people are busy and they’re giving up valuable time by volunteering to blog for us. I also copy our CEO so they know that their contribution was invaluable to our organization as well.

Create an employee “amazingly awesome” wall where it’s physically in your office space or on your website. It’s visible and anyone who arrives at the office or lands on your webpage will see it. You can plan to do it weekly or monthly. What’s important is that your customers, constituency, board members, guests, and members of the community will see it and celebrate with the organization. If it’s on your website, leave a section for comments so well-wishers can join in. It also allows for people to know that you’re advancing your mission as you celebrate your small and big wins.

What are your organization’s milestones? Identify what they are and begin planning. For those major ones begin a year in advance and place different staff members across the organization on the team to be responsible. It lets them know that you are entrusting them with the planning and implementation of the milestone you are celebrating. And make sure if this is an annual event, don’t plan the same thing every year. You know those kinds of events where all that’s done is the ‘date change’ on the program but it’s the same ol’ thang…can’t you hear the groans? -- It gets old and tired real quick! Putting different people in charge annually breathes new life, fun, ownership, and appreciation for what your organization is celebrating.

Share an achievement at a board meeting so that board members are aware of the work your organization is accomplishing. And be creative about how you present it so that it is memorable to the board members. Sometimes board members' minds begin wondering if your director’s reports are the same each month. Spice it up by having an audio drumroll and some very creative and innovative fanfare. Similarly, take time out of your staff meetings to celebrate an accomplishment whether it was by a group or individual. I had a CEO at a former nonprofit organization where I was employed to call it “We Celebrate!” and it was on the agenda for each meeting. It really made it from because it created some fun competition between the different departments because they loved being recognized for their work.

Finally, celebrate achievements in real time by utilizing social media. Our CEO, Deb Macfarlan always gives kudos to our bloggers, and to me too(!), on Facebook, LinkedIn and other formats. Again, it gives a platform for how the blog is meeting the vision, mission and goals of the Macfarlan Group. And it makes the recipient feel awesomely good about their contribution to our organization.

Celebrating victories and wins, whether big or small, is imperative! It helps to maximize the impact of your organization. The members of the team you lead are invaluable. Every accomplishment your organization achieves moves you closer to your mission and that success should be recognized by you as the CEO. And be creative about how you’re choosing to celebrate your organization and individual efforts.

I started by celebrating our blog’s first anniversary, a new milestone, by the many contributions that embraced leadership development through a variety of issues that impact us as human beings. I’d like to publicly share my heartfelt gratitude again to the following individuals: Barbara Ganias, Chelsea Acquaye Nortey, Marline Johnson, Celeste Baretto, Syeeda Briddell, Pam Bryant, Zuri Obedo, Kristen King, Jeson Souvannarath, April Douglas, and Dominique Townsend. I appreciate and celebrate you!

We celebrate our amazing Blogging Out Loud NOW! Anchor blogger, Dr. Jocelyn Briddell for her persistence, confidence, and voice. Thank you!

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