Celebrating successes in nonprofits

Jeffrey W. Steed
Jeffrey W. Steed

Jeffry W. Steed

When reaching a mountainous peak, there always seems to be a new one in sight. However, mountain climbers celebrate each peak, marking it as a monumental and motivational event that gives energy and enthusiasm to pursue the next.

Riding the peaks in nonprofits is no different.

Upon reaching each peak successfully, a recognition and celebration must be intentional.

It gives the organization the energy and enthusiasm for the next part of the journey in achieving its underlying vision and reason for existence.

Specifically, the vision is the long-term journey and the underlying shorter-term objectives are the peaks that must be celebrated.

Without reaching the peaks, the journey becomes distorted and hazy as fog settles on a mountain range.

Organizational objectives must be realistic and achievable. The objectives help break down, in achievable steps, the accomplishment of the organization’s vision to prevent staff from being overwhelmed with the journey before them.

As employees experience the fulfillment in reaching an objective and peak as a whole within the organization, employee morale should also increase causing an exponential effect that should increase the probability of reaching the next peak.

It seems to be a common leadership understanding that employee satisfaction and good morale leads to organizational success.

However, Phil Rosenzweig in his book, The Halo Effect, suggests organizational success has a stronger “impact on employee satisfaction” versus the inverse relationship.

In other words, reaching the peak is much more important for employee morale than employee morale causing the reaching of the peak.

In reality, both should increase the probability of the success of the other. Reaching a peak leads to higher morale that increases the probability of reaching the next peak.

The achievement of each peak is not only important for being successful in the journey, it is also crucial in helping the nonprofit leader keep the staff motivated and focused.

Without realistic and achievable peaks, morale likely will decrease, and that in turn could disrupt the organizational journey.

Reaching peaks is important because they provide mental milestones that remind the staff of the importance of achieving together what could not realistically be done alone.

Peaks not only build morale, but momentum for reaching the peaks ahead.

On occasion, nonprofit leaders may need to remind their staff of previous successes when morale starts dwindling in the face of a difficult organizational challenge.

Those mental milestones are reminders of the times the staff worked together and were successful in their efforts.

Being reminded of those milestones keeps the momentum going to reach the peak ahead.

The journey continues peak after peak, helping the nonprofit organization achieve its vision and reason for existence.

The achievement of those peaks help produce a successful result for those that the nonprofit serves, but also provides a meaningful experience for those on the journey.

Jeffrey W. Steed is vice president of the Arkansas Baptist Foundation and Christian Ministry Services.

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