Give Thanks for Getting Things Done

Completing your project, task, or initiative is reason enough to stop, celebrate and give thanks.

I didn’t set out to write a holiday themed post. Honestly, I didn’t. Yet here we are. I think the topic at hand is more the result of beginning to make progress on long festering projects and reaching milestones.

As a Change Manager I strongly encourage leaders to take time to celebrate the success of their teams. As they reach critical points in the project, it’s important to acknowledge progress, what it took to accomplish it and to appreciate getting there. Let’s be real here, there are plenty of times when it doesn’t seem like teams are going to hit those deliverables, so when they do its cause for celebration.

Of course not all recognition has to be a grand gesture. Sometimes it’s just as important to celebrate the little wins. Even a minor victory, when properly savored, can have a lasting positive effect. And that is the point; to capitalize on something constructive and use it to catapult everyone forward into the next effort.

Think about it: when you get something finished how do you feel?

celebrateMe? I feel relieved, jubilant, proud, successful and –regardless of exhaustion – energized. That is the type of momentum you want to create and sustain, all of which is possible with a little “Thank you, I realize how much you have put into this, keep going, we are making progress” that comes from a bit of celebration.

Now here is the tricky part. For this to be really impactful you have to honestly feel the gratitude. If you bring your team together for support and appreciation but you really don’t care that they accomplished something, then no matter how good an actor you are, they are going to know it. It will fall flat and worse, it will have the opposite effect from what was intended. People leave feeling that you are uncaring, arrogant or ignorant to their sacrifices to get things finished. None of those are positive things. Left unchecked, they grow and spread like the flu.

I think of the Thanksgiving Dinners of years gone by, where as a child I would be asked to share with those sitting around the table what I was most thankful for.

“Um, I am glad we are out of school ‘til next week.” Queue ‘the Look’ from the head of the table, then “Oh yea and I am glad I have this wonderful family.”

Not that my family isn’t wonderful, at least sometimes, but that doesn’t ooze real feeling cause at that time that type of appreciation did not exist.

So check yourself. Are you really thankful that your project reached a milestone, finalized a decision or resolved an issue? How you got there, skipping right along or with stakeholders kicking screaming the whole way, is not really important. If you are there and you are relieved or excited or joyful about being at that point, find a way to express that, genuinely, with the people that made that happen. A heartfelt thank you is always welcome. Try it and don’t be ashamed to practice. This is a skill; you have to work on it like anything else.

Did the laundry, Hooray!

Finished a little remodeling project, High five! We did it!

Completed the design phase, Woo Hoo! Well Done!

Everyone made it to the meeting on time, so we got everything done, Thank You Everyone!!

I thank my dogs after each “walk”. Sometimes the walk takes 5 minutes and sometimes its 50 (no joke) and sometimes it’s a “we’ll try again later” scenario. But whenever we are successful out there, I take a moment, acknowledge I’m thankful it’s over, give them a pat and tell them they are good dogs.

What have you been thankful for recently and how have you shared that?

Feeling grateful doesn’t just happen on Thanksgiving.  Create a Gratitude Journal at

Originally published on November 29, 2011

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