A longtime friend and mentor, Brenda Sleeper, has a fantastic saying to refer to celebrating wins in business. Her motto is to “Ring the bell!” and to do it frequently. Let’s explore why, when, and how.
Why ring the bell?
Celebrating individual and firm successes is a form of communication that acknowledges and reinforces your firm’s values. When done consistently this is satisfying for the people who contributed to the success and motivating to others. Ringing the bell is also a form of positive communication, something all employees crave, and a way to boost morale by creating confidence among employees that the firm is doing well, their jobs are secure, and that you are working to create a positive work environment.
When I work with firms, I am often asking people to change the way they do things. This isn’t always comfortable at first. Ringing the bell is a great way to gain and maintain positive momentum.
When to ring the bell…
As we’ve discussed before in this blog, most people in professional services want to be advisors, not sales people – and yet now more than ever before we’re asking employees up and down the ladder to bring in new clients, or at least cross-sell additional services to current clients. Consider whether your firm culture recognizes efforts in addition to successes.
Contributions to improving the firm come in many forms that deserve to be acknowledged. Consider ringing the bell when a team in your firm creates and presents a lunch-and-learn on an important topic, assess a change in vendors for an IT solution, works evenings to man the booth at career fairs, refers a new employee, or brings a junior colleague to a networking event.
How to ring the bell…
Put some thought into this. Some firms have a “one size fits all” approach to applauding success internally. Whether it’s with a mention in the company newsletter, gift cards, lunch with the boss, etc., however the bell is rung, it has just one note. If done reliably and in a timely manner, this is a good start. And if you don’t have a way to do more, you can be satisfied with this.
I would encourage you to think about how to tailor your expressions of appreciation to the recipient(s) based on the effort or success. Be forewarned, this can get complicated and you run the risk of people perceiving some benefits as being superior or exaggerated to others. Act with transparency and integrity and people will believe your decisions are based on good intentions.
- Be mindful of the individual(s) involved: Extroverts may love public praise while introverts may cringe at being the center of attention. Gen Xers may appreciate being singled out for their individual contribution while Millennials may prefer to be named as part of a winning team.
- Remember to be all-inclusive in your praise. Admin are often overlooked for their vital roles in special projects or maintaining client relationships. They deserve to be included in the praise and know when they’ve been snubbed.
Go ring the bell!
As with all marketing efforts, it’s vital to create a sustainable effort. If you start this and drop it, your intentions and it could backfire. Consider forming a “Ring the bell!” committee to make thoughtful decisions about your firm’s praise. Give them a budget and some guidelines and encourage them to be creative. Not only will this help to avoid the perception of bias or “politics” but a group may come up with more creative ideas than one person alone.
If you have success with “Ringing the bell” at your firm, please share your ideas with me!
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