4 Reasons to Recognize Milestones

Today we reached the end of an era in the Fletcher household…we’ve most likely seen our last minivan.

With the price of gas continuing to rocket upward we traded in ol’ blue for a used Honda Civic Hybrid.  The small car payment and a month’s gas will still cost us less than we were paying per month for gas in ol’ blue. I have to admit I’m kinda sad.

I’ve been thinking about random milestones all day.

Way back at the turn of the century, funny when you put it that way, I was working as the Director of eCommerce Marketing at Corporate Express. During my tenure in that position we saw a pretty cool milestone heading our direction. We knew, probably 4 weeks out, that we were going to hit our first million dollar sales day on our eCommerce site.

As the marketing director I wanted to recognize the efforts of everyone who had made the site a success as well as generate excitement and so we started a pool to see who could pick not only the right day, but closest to the right dollar amount.

Our final sales numbers from the previous day typically came in between 10 and noon and on the day we got the news that we’d hit the mark we went crazy. Most of us has seen the first day the site launched, bringing in I believe a total of five dollars, and here we were at a million dollars in a single day!

We sent announcements out to our field offices congratulating the sales folks and throughout headquarters lauding the team that had built and maintained the site. By 3:30 it was time to really celebrate so I invited the entire eCommerce team to happy hour. Several VP’s came over to join in the fun and the CEO even came by for a beer and some congratulatory words.

As a corporate leader I learned the importance of recognizing milestones that day.

1. It honors accomplishment
Our guys were beaming that day from the newest support person to the senior most developer. They knew and understood anew that their work had created significant value for the organization.

2. It measures success
Milestones are stakes in the ground that are tangible measure of success, a goal line crossed. It’s one thing to say, “good job”. It’s another thing to have a measure of just how good.

3. It shows engagement
For a leader to pause and recognize a significant milestone shows that they’re engaged in the business and the efforts of their people. Celebrating even in small ways says more than just “attaboy” it says, “we’re in this together.”

4. It inspires effort
We hadn’t finished even the first round of libations before people were asking when we’d hit a 2 million dollar day. We didn’t dwell there, but we had already started setting our sites on what it would take to get to the next level.

Whether you’re running an organization, leading a family, or building customer loyalty recognizing milestones along the way helps inspire your people to follow your lead and strive for the next level.

What milestones do you have on the horizon? How do you think they ought to be celebrated and, more importantly, with whom?

9 responses to “4 Reasons to Recognize Milestones

  1. …mmmmmmm

    …70yo looms in just a few weeks

    …@ 65 we did breakfast

    ..good memories then, hoping to build more in the future

    …you are part of the good memories!

    • I suppose it HAS been 5 years since that breakfast. How many requests from that morning came to fruition and what does the party look like this time? You, the lovely Judy and a good bottle overlooking a mountain glade?

  2. My 40-year milestone is approaching, and I would rather just treat it like yet another day. However, I am starting to realize the importance of recognizing it, especially because it allows the people who love me to express their appreciation for me. Why is that so hard to allow?

    • Funny you should put it that way Kari, I had that exact conversation with a friend yesterday who was hitting 40 and wanting to just spend the day hiking. His wife and other loved one had different plans though. As much as it is easy to recognize milestones for other folks allowing people who love us to recognize our is equally important.

      • I have to realize that it’s more for others than for me. I need to let them express themselves, I know. Yet, I would rather it not happen just on birthdays. And, I would like the focus to be on positive affirmation and not on stereoptypes about aging. I am all about breaking out of stereotypes.

  3. I’ve got my 26th milestone on the horizon (birthday). That’s something worth celebrating with friends.

  4. Speaking of back in the day, I use to be a project scheduler where I placed milestones on the MS Project schedule and thought of it as the bare minimum that I need to hit in order to move on with the project. I haven’t really though of milestones in the way you spoke of. I don’t know if it’s just me or other people have the same issues but I always have this drive where I know I can do more. Even when I have multiple things going on or have achieved goals I still think I can do more. Sometimes I look back and the value isn’t there. Maybe with a little perspective change I can become more satisfied with my accomplishments. You’re a great mentor, it’s 20 years since you first met me and I’m still learning from you. Thanks for everything Curtis.

    • Thanks man! Project milestones are a great time/opportunity to tell your people, “well done” even if they’re minor stops along the way. There are always times that we personally feel we could have done more but that should inform the future rather than causing us to ignore the present. Don’t let yourself be as hard on your peope as I bet YOU are on yourself. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s