Project managers and their teams regularly feel the pressure to deliver projects on tight timelines and within budget, and that can get stressful. So, when a tough project is finished and delivered to the client or to management, many teams get together to celebrate and blow off some steam.
Some teams have rituals that they adhere to after every project, some teams pop a bottle of champagne to celebrate, and other teams take a little time off to recoup and do some team building. We wanted to hear some of the unique ways that PM teams celebrate after a tough project, so we asked: How do you celebrate after finishing a big project?
How Do Managers Celebrate Successful Projects?
Brad Shaw, CEO at Dallas Web Design Inc. likes to have fun with his team after a long project, and believes that rewarding his employees’ months of hard work with an outing is a small but powerful gesture to the team.
“We work on projects of all sizes at our design firm, but big projects are
always celebrated upon completion. These projects that can last, 3-6-9 months and involve our entire team working late nights or going the extra mile for the client.
“I believe in rewarding hard work. Aside from yearly end bonuses, at the completion of a landmark project I like to end the workday early and take the team out to celebrate. We hire a party bus and head to our local upscale bowling/dining spot and make a night of it. Not only are we celebrating the completion of a big project, but it also helps with team building between departments.
“We provide Uber rides home from the event and allow the staff to come in late the next morning. Sure, this is a small gesture, but it goes a long way to
show our appreciation for a job well done.”
While some teams like to leave business discussions off limits at these milestone celebrations, other teams like to blend feedback discussions into their events.
Author and advisor Todd Mitchem takes his team out of the office to celebrate their wins, but also reflect on the successes and failures of the project. He finds that a celebration can be both productive and celebratory.
“We celebrate with a dinner out and at that dinner we talk about best practices, celebrate the success for our clients and we brainstorm how we can use the in to build more success for our team and our clients.
“The key is dinner. By taking the team off line, out of the office and actually celebrating, we remind them that we are all humans FIRST. Without our humanity, which includes celebrating success, I feel as the CEO that we are lost as a company. The key is celebration of the wins!”
Some teams go beyond celebrating with the team that completed the project, and find value in looping in support staff as well.
Deborah Sweeney, CEO at MyCorporation, thinks that celebrating with the project team is important but she also feels that the entire company should be involved, since most big projects affect the company as a whole:
“When we go live and complete a big project, we celebrate. We take the team out, break out a bottle of champagne and really promote the launch to our entire team. It’s important to celebrate – both for the development team, and also for the broader team – because often the development launch positively, and directly, impacts our entire team. We find a celebration is in order for ANY launch!”
Elizabeth Hiza, Chief of Staff at Barnum Financial Group, agrees that the celebration should go beyond the team executing the project. Hiza brings the CEO of her company into the celebration so that the project team gets some facetime with leadership and an opportunity to showcase their hard work.
With over 500 employees at the company, Hiza sees these celebrations as great opportunities for the CEO to connect with teams about how their work fits into the big picture of the company and its goals:
“Depending on the people in the project I will host something I know the team will enjoy; it could be a happy hour or some sort of team bonding activity. The most important aspect that I always make sure happens at these celebrations is that our CEO can attend to congratulate the team and remind the team how this particular project fits into the long-term vision of the company.
“This is such important step as it gives the team exposure they wouldn’t normally have to the CEO and it allows my team to showcase the project skills they applied to the CEO. Likewise, our CEO enjoys this because he is able to interact with everyone because we are in a relaxed setting and he learns more about the skill sets of our associates. It is a win-win for all parties.”
There are endless ways to celebrate a major project milestone, but it really comes down to the specific teams involved. A night out on the town is not necessarily a fun perk for a team of introverts who might just want to relax at the end of a project.
This is why Elizabeth Harrin, project manager and author at GirlsGuideToPM.com says it might be best to just ask each team for their ideas.
“If you don’t know how best to mark a project milestone, ask the team what they would like to do, or what would feel special for them. You might be surprised at what they say, and it’s a lot easier to meet expectations and give the right message if you know what they want from the beginning!”
Whether it’s a night on the town or a gathering with company executives, project teams find value in taking a break to reflect at the end of a long project. A small break between projects can go a long way in building team morale, replenishing team energy, and preparing employees for the next big project on the horizon.
If you’re going to celebrate, you better have something to celebrate. Nothing guarantees project success more than having the right tools to lead your team. ProjectManager.com has the features you need for team collaboration and every phase of your project. If you’re looking for a cloud-based project management software that gives you the real-time data you need, then try ProjectManager.com free for 30-days with this trial.