Pro Tips: Finding New Ways to Celebrate

The pandemic hasn’t just changed how we work—it’s changed how we celebrate project success. PMI asked project professionals around the world: How do you celebrate completing milestones or recognize individual achievements?

Image of Marzikmal Omar

Build a virtual bash with a legacy of lessons learned
When the pandemic started, our organization assigned team members to come up with ideas that could make virtual celebrations more engaging. By leaning into their creative sides, our project teams generated ideas that can also be used when we return to the office. 

  • We compile videos that highlight milestones, awards and appreciation emails from project clients and customers. The videos show team members talking about the most memorable or funniest project moments.
  • Project T-shirts are sent to all team members, who wear them during the virtual celebration party.
  • The top performing team member chooses food and drinks, which are delivered to everyone.
  • To promote inclusion, we invite everyone to the party, including the leadership team. 
  • The leadership team creates lessons learned questionnaires that are not only designed to be fun but also capture and share knowledge about the project.
  • When we return to the office, we’re planning to add more activities to our celebrations, like having team members who contribute most to project success put on a performance during the party. 

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we need to cultivate a culture of knowledge-sharing during the party so everyone is engaged. This encourages team members to be aware of what others are working on—and how they achieved success.
Marzikmal Omar, PMI-RMP, PMP, head of IT, e-services and telecom portfolio, group PMO, Dagang NeXchange Berhad, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Image of Toni Crouch

Maintain team harmony without skipping a beat
We’ve been celebrating milestones on hybrid teams since 2016 by sharing music. Whoever is reporting on the milestone starts the status update with a song of their choice. This works for other moments, too. If we ever notice that the team is going through a difficult time or slump in engagement or motivation, we will share music just to let them know they are not alone. These events have improved performance because people like to be the one to select the music—it helps encourage a goal-oriented mindset. These celebrations also improve engagement. We have a diverse team so we never know what kind of music will be shared. We also do a team happy dance occasionally for those who are able and comfortable. For me, music-sharing is a way to live the philosophy of “Appreciated people do more; happy people succeed more.” 
Toni Crouch, PMP, project manager, Infinite Electronics, Avon, New York, USA

Image of Stacie Gibbons

Reward cravings for recognition—and help teams refuel
After a major achievement at TSA, we go for a lobster dinner in a Chinese restaurant with plastic chairs. It’s a little quirky, but it’s been a tradition for more than 20 years. It reminds us to appreciate big moments while still being humble. As project managers, we often think about the next steps and can easily forget to pause to take in the present moment. Pausing and celebrating milestones is important to let the team know they did well. It’s also a chance to recharge—onward and upward we go with new energy.
Stacie Gibbons, general manager of business growth and development, TSA Management, Sydney

Image of Christine Fuss

Throw a feedback party—and watch them grow
We like to celebrate reaching critical milestones with after-work events that strengthen team spirit. But you don’t necessarily need a shower of confetti and popping corks to grow together. Sometimes, just providing feedback on a challenging, high-pressure project immediately after reaching the milestone is a great way for all team members to celebrate successes. By creating a framework of open communication, we learn together from mistakes and support each other in overcoming challenges. As a result, members get to know their individual strengths and weaknesses and learn how it fits into the overall team performance. 
Christine Fuss, head of strategic projects, DIN German Institute for Standardization, Berlin