How a Closing Ceremony Sets Your Team up for Success

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end, as the old quote (or ‘90s rock song) goes. As true as that may be, most of us don’t take the time to mark the end of a project or cycle as we blaze to the next. (That’s especially true at the end of the year, when holiday vacations and year-end rushes leave little space for teams to wrap up their year’s work and get ready for the new tasks hurtling headlong towards them.)

I suspect that’s why one of our most powerful frameworks is our Closing Ceremony. If you’ve never done an intentional closing activity at the end of a large project or year, you’re not alone–and you’ve just discovered a key tool of some of the best managers and leaders.

Why is it so powerful?

Seeing tangible progress in meaningful work is the single most important factor in motivating your team, according to researchers.

And when employees see progress, they are not only more motivated–they also rate their teams as more supportive and report more positive interactions with managers.

It’s no surprise, then, that when employees experience setbacks, they also report they have less freedom and autonomy in doing their work. Even recognition–praising them and giving them spot bonuses–has less impact than normal.

So if you want to boost your team’s drive to do a good job, the single best way to do it is by acknowledging all the good and meaningful progress that has been made–the gifts that have come with the year–and letting the blockers and discouragements go.

But it’s not just motivation.

Teams that reflect on prior events also deliver more innovation, improved collaboration, increased team morale, and greater resilience–which are critical advantages in today’s competitive marketplaces.

So a Closing Ceremony strategically sets your team up for success as you move into the next project or year. And it feels incredibly good.

As you prepare to jump into the next project or cycle, consider if a closing activity could help your team. If you’d like to start fresh and strong, have a clean slate, learn from the past and lean into the next step, give a Closing Ceremony a try–you’ll be surprised how powerful it can be.

(And if you want clear guidance on how to host a Closing Ceremony, you can find our time-tested framework with step-by-step instructions here.)

Sources: Harvard Business Review, Journal of Management, Resilience Engineering Concept

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