You know the lyric: “Momma said there’d be days like this; there’d be days like this my momma said.” Are we taking the good with the bad?
Of all the elements of working—no matter the size of the organization or the industry—nothing may be more universal than the rollercoaster of emotions we all experience. One day you close a big deal or solve a customer’s problem and you’re feeling pretty great. And another day everything falls apart.
Which brings me to #3 from our ten-point guide to great workplace culture:
There will be good days. Celebrate them. There will be bad days. Accept them.
Celebrating Good Days
This assignment sounds easy. When things go well, we want to throw a party. We’re happy to eat cake or have a glass of champagne. Sometimes, it’s about having the right level of celebration for the accomplishment at hand. It’s all too easy for a major accomplishment to merely get a word of thanks, or to embarrass someone with your enthusiasm over their minor victory.
One option is to show appreciation through a special event or giving people gifts. But research shows that parties aren’t always wanted and presents can backfire. So what does it mean to celebrate a good day? Acknowledge that it happened to yourself. And once in a while, acknowledge it with the rest of your team.
Accepting Bad Days
When things aren’t going well, there is a chance they are going poorly. Failure is part of business, and as much as I personally want to encourage everyone to recognize the critical role of making mistakes in finding success, screwing up can be pretty upsetting.
Wallowing in the bad news can be toxic. Instead, try and practice self-forgiveness. And if it’s someone else who made the mistake, tell them you appreciate them and understand that mistakes are part of the process.
So what does it mean to accept a bad day? Acknowledge that it happened to yourself. And once in a while, acknowledge it with the rest of your team.
The Curse of Mediocrity
It doesn’t seem too hard to “celebrate good days” and surely it’s not a huge stretch to “acknowledge bad days.” But what all too many organizations and individuals do is hang out in the lukewarm middle.
Once again, you know how it goes:
“Eh, it’s fine.”
Wouldn’t you rather talk to someone who had a great day, or even a terrible day—with the understanding that each day was different? The emotional range shows their capacity. People whose jobs are “just okay” aren’t likely to take big risks or put in extra effort. They aren’t likely to speak up with new ideas or take the blame when they make an error.
In short, the reason we want people to “celebrate good days” and “acknowledge bad days” is because those are the only kinds of days we want you to have.
Culture Is Choices
If you’re reading along as we expand on each of the ten points in the original list, you may start to see a theme. You can’t have a great organization unless you make specific decisions about what you want. What do you want to encourage or discourage? What do you want to control or choose not to control?
Here’s one final line you’ve heard before: “You can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you react to what happens to you.”
Organizations are the sum of the choices made by everyone in them, every day. And when good days happen, those organizations should celebrate. When bad days happen, they should acknowledge them.
Culture is choices. What will you decide to do with what happens tomorrow?