Group of Eight Australia
Australia's Leading Universities
     Modules     Organiser  

Module 8: Project Closeout

4.3 Celebrating success

While there are many ways to celebrate project success, the first reward for team members should be to have some free time to celebrate finishing a project before starting work on the next project.

The purpose of recognition, acknowledge, and celebration in a project is to thank and appreciate the team for their work, to reinforce their initiative and results, and to inspire them to continue delivering similar results in the future.

4.3.1 Team rewards

Whilst not everyone may have contributed equally to the success of the project, it is difficult to provide rewards for some team members and not others. So it is better to be inclusive and expansive in team celebrations, and organise events that include all the team members and even their families if appropriate. Investment in team celebrations creates a lot of goodwill and camaraderie.

Sometimes it is also worth organising a team photo, a certificate or a personal note from someone relevant in senior research management, to be presented to each person attending.

4.3.2 Peer acknowledgement

It is also possible to create systems whereby team members can reward other team members who make a difference to the project and support the goals of the team. Successful systems of peer-to-peer reward include buying movie vouchers and allowing team members to allocate tickets to other team members based on their contributions to the project. This is an inexpensive way of recognising effort and carries a lot more weight than when a manager confers the award. There need to be rules about this sort of thing, such as maintaining a register of who gets the rewards and why to ensure the system isn’t used inappropriately and insisting that whoever confers the reward hands it over personally, explaining why they are making it.

4.3.3 Recording success and motivating the team

It’s important to keep pictures and stories of the project during its lifeycle. Images and stories are an important component of a project closure, to celebrate success, remember the good times and provide closeout for the people so they can move onto new things.

4.3.4 Timing of celebrations

If celebration, recognition, and appreciation are truly going to be motivating it can't be left to the end of the project.

Research leaders have to notice and acknowledge what's going well constantly and offer encouraging words to team members. However, unless you can be sincere don't bother. It is better to not provide recognition and feedback unless it is sincere, because team members can tell whether you are truly interested or not.

4.3.5 Celebrating failure

In research, not everything goes according to plan (otherwise, by its very nature it would not be research). Research is a risky process and it is guaranteed to fail from time to time, so why only reward success? Failure is frequently the foundation upon which future successes are built. Only celebrating success may inadvertently discourage experimentation and the taking of appropriate risks. If your organisation wants a change in culture and wants to encourage managed risk-taking, this can be demonstrated by a visible celebration of a dismal failure (from which critical information was learned). This is not about celebrating repetition of the same mistakes that have been made in previous research projects. It is about celebrating new and more exciting mistakes that may lay the groundwork for the next breakthrough.

< Previous Next >