Colin D Ellis
Leadership | Culture | Success
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Here's why you should start the year with a party

Each new calendar year generally starts with a bang. Fireworks, drinks, laughs and then it’s back to work to pick up the paperwork you hoped would have magically gone away whilst you were out of the office.

The Christmas decorations are down (if they were even up) and so is the mood, with most people counting the weeks to the next holiday. There’s nothing to celebrate because nothing has been achieved yet. But celebrating shouldn’t be wholly dependent on the completion of something, should it?

I have worked at a number of organisations during my career who were rubbish at celebrating at any time of the year. It’s not that they didn’t want to do it or that they didn’t see the value in doing it; often it was just, well, not a thing they remembered to do. Not with any regularity at least. Which is like me and my relationship with flossing. I know it’s important, it’s just that it’s not part of my routine, ergo, I always forget.


The problem is that in both of these scenarios, it often leads to unnecessary (and avoidable) pain.


Celebrating success in work is something we only ever do at the end. The end of a project, the end of a week or the end of the year. Everything has to be absolutely final before people are afforded a celebration. In most cases it’s often too late. By that time, people are tired, feel under appreciated or, worse, have already left.


Wouldn’t it be nice then if we got into the habit of celebrating before we start? Or as Simon Dowling suggests we do in his book Work With Me: ‘Throw a Starty Party’.

Bring everyone together and celebrate the fact that you’re about to embark on something new. A year, a project, a team… anything. Talk about the plans ahead, the risks faced, the personal change you’d like to make and agree the social calendar. Set some group goals, instigate something enjoyable to bring you together (it could be a book, yoga, walking or coffee club) and start as you mean to go on.

Imagine the emotional capital that would be built over waffles and ice cream, a treasure hunt around the city or (my personal favourite) Rick Astley hits at a karaoke bar?

Organisations would be making a statement that coming together as a team at the start is just as important as celebrating the achievements throughout the year.

James P. Carse said in his book Finite and Infinite Games: ‘Just as it is essential to have a definitive ending, it must also have a precise beginning.' And that precise beginning starts with celebrating what was learned from previous initiatives. What went well in order that it can be repeated? What went badly so that it can be avoided? And what needs to be done to build and maintain a vibrant culture throughout the year?

According to Dr. Gert-Jan Pepping, Sport Scientist and lecturer in Human Movement Sciences at the University of Groningen: ‘The more convincingly someone celebrates their success with their teammates, the greater the chances that team will win.’ And winning at culture is what every team and organisation should strive for at the START, not something they try and fix in the middle or at the end once everyone is completely burnt out.

Taking the time to celebrate is important throughout the year, so why not start as you mean to go on? I can’t think of a better way to kick-off the year.


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