The Importance of Celebrating Small Steps During Change

The Importance of Celebrating Small Steps During Change
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Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Celebrating Small Steps During Change

One of the keys to successful organizational change is to recognize the importance of celebrating small steps during change.  The power of progress helps to track and celebrate the small steps on the way to that big, hairy, audacious goal.

While many leaders and teams feel pressure to quickly move on to the next action item, do not miss the opportunity to recognize and savor hard won accomplishments — no matter how small.  Celebrating achievements is an important opportunity to fortify what is working, to strengthen team relationships, and to create positive momentum.

Three Common Reasons People Resist Change
Leaders know the importance of celebrating small steps during change because they know many employees are initially apt to resist change because they fear how they will be affected, are reluctant to put in the extra work involved, and prefer the comfortable and safety of the status quo.

Five Change Management Tips to Overcome Resistance
These top change obstacles from change management consulting experts can be overcome but they are challenging.  Change leaders need to create trust by:

  1. Being Clear
    Clearly and continuously communicate the business case for change, the vision for change, the urgency for change in a clear, meaningful, and compelling way
  2. Being Honest
    Honestly answer change questions and address issues directly about the current state and future state
  3. Being Understanding
    Authentically empathize with the difficulties employees face
  4. Being Invested
    Unwaveringly provide support for those in transition
  5. Being Committed
    Ruthlessly maintain focus over the long-term

Quite a list of responsibilities for organizational change leaders.

The Importance of Celebrating Small Steps During Change
When we think about celebrating change, we often think about major long-term goals or major milestones. While big wins are important, they themselves can change and are occur infrequently. So here’s a tip from our change management simulation that can make the change process easier, mark the small steps of progress along the way.  Small wins can boost employee engagement tremendously.

It is easy to get discouraged when the goal is in the distant future and seems unreachable. Break the overall change down into more concrete, achievable goals. The small wins help employees see that they are making advances and can learn along the way. Otherwise, they can become disheartened as they face inevitable setbacks.

Sometimes the only step forward may be the insights gained from the project’s failures, but it is important that the team recognize that they are learning and moving in the right direction.

Advantages of Celebrating Small Steps During Change
Harvard researchers Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer found that celebrating Progress Events (defined as moving forward on a project or accomplishing something) provide the highest levels of motivation. There are other advantages to celebrating change one step at a time. The small steps do more than simply feed the human desire to succeed, they also:

  • Increase faith in the worth of the effort and encourage others to commit to the change
  • Sway the cynics to a more positive view of the organizational change as they see real progress
  • Recognize those who are working hard to achieve the vision
  • Provide feedback on the value of the vision and the path the leaders have chosen

The Bottom Line
As you put together a plan for organizational change, break it down into pieces that employees can tackle and conquer even as you help them keep their eyes on the ultimate goal.  Do not underestimate the importance of celebrating small steps during change.

To learn more about successful change management, download How to Successfully Recognize and Reward Organizational Change

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