Creative Ideas to Celebrate Team Performance

Posted by Kristin Arnold on December 14, 2021

A team is a group of individuals…and you must recognize each person’s contributions to the team’s overall success.  Many teams choose to do that in the form of a holiday party, or with monetary appreciation at the end of the year. While money is a powerful motivator, there are even more thoughtful things you can do, large and small, that can recognize team members.

Visibility.  Provide opportunities for team members to be visible within the organization (e.g. presenting papers, project results, management briefings).  Include members’ names on team deliverables such as reports or presentations.

Ongoing Development.  Provide developmental opportunities to team members, such as training programs and special assignments.  Support their involvement in industry or professional conferences.  Encourage them to visit other companies to share the learnings and results of their work.  Provide reasonable time off and/or pay tuition for degree or certification programs.

Environment.  Provide state of the art and/or comfortable equipment and flexible working conditions. 

Team Photos.  Take team photographs.  Post them on the bulletin board or publish them in the company newsletter or industry and trade journals.

Thank You Notes.  In this age of electronics, an unexpected personal thank you note works wonders.  At the minimum, write a formal letter to every team member at the conclusion of the project.

Small Gifts.  Send flowers, a gift basket, tickets to a movie or some small token to team members who have been working long hours, traveling excessively, or who you have caught doing something right.

Celebrate.  Pizza party, ice skating, bowling, or the U-Name-It event at the completion of the project as well as important milestones along the way. If you are working remotely, do a virtual happy hour

Here are some ideas:

Bring in a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne and glasses (plastic will do, but it’s a lot more fun with glass!), or ship the supplies to your team members for a virtual toast. Start the toast with “I am thankful this team is…..”  Clink glasses, take a sip and encourage others to continue the toast! 

Have each team member share his or her most memorable team moment.

Have a potluck lunch.  Encourage team members to stay and mingle rather than run back to the office or back home.

Have team members share what they think is the team’s most significant accomplishment and what contributed to its success.

Share what each individual does to celebrate success (such as go out to dinner) and then agree on how the team will celebrate its success.

Bring in a Polaroid camera and take team pictures.

Have all the team members sit in a circle.  Take a big ball of yarn and wrap one end around your finger.  Throw the ball to another team member and thank that person for a specific contribution or accomplishment.  That team member then wraps a bit of yarn around his or her finger and continues the process.  You can even send it back to the same person!  Watch the interconnected web the team weaves….

Go for a brisk team walk in the afternoon cool air and return to a mug of simmering hot apple cider. Do a walk-meeting conference call if necessary.

Share what you gained from working on the team and what are you thankful for learning.

Your best opportunity to recognize individual contributions and relationships is at the beginning of each team meeting.  As you start, draw attention to roles and functions and the intended relationships between them.  Some ideas to consider:

You’re Special.  Send the signal that each team member is special and has a valuable position on the team.  Provide a copy of the agenda in a special folder with team member names.  Prepare name tents bearing names and team roles.  Ask members to stand and introduce themselves.  

Hear Ye.  Hear Ye.  As team members introduce themselves, ask them to share their roles, functions, team stories or other noteworthy contributions.

Check In.  Ask team members if anyone has anything of interest to share or to recognize other team members for their contributions since the last time you met.

Team Activities.  Icebreakers are great ways to jump-start a meeting.  They are lively, fun and interactive.  Share the role of leading the team through a new icebreaker.  Have fun with the activity and with the leader.  At the conclusion, don’t forget to thank team members for setting a positive tone for the rest of the meeting.  By allowing a different team member to lead the team activity, they are visibly contributing to the team.

Tap Into Their WIIFM.  Each person comes to the team with their own agenda or WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).  As a group, take the time to answer the question (WIIFM) for each team member.  (Hint: With Generation X and Y teams, this form of recognition is a must.)

Pop In.  Have the sponsor or champion “pop in” to a team meeting and actually know what the team is doing and how it is contributing to the organization’s success.  Better yet, brief the champion with specifics about how each team member has contributed to the team’s success.  Coach the champion to express appreciation for each person’s involvement and team success.

Thank ’Em.  As you kick off the meeting, remember to thank team members for their contributions since the last time you met.  Rather than read a list, weave your compliments into the conversation.  When team members offer an idea or suggestion, thank them for their initiative and contribution.  The key is to be consistent in your recognition as well as authentic and genuine in your thanks.


For more information about elevating your team results, processes and relationships, contact master facilitator, Kristin Arnold at 800.589.4733.

For more information about how to lead your team in the virtual environment, use these resources.

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 27 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.  Her latest book, 123 Ways to Add Pizazz to a Panel Discussion was published in January 2021.

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Photo by Paul Solomon on Unsplash

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.

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