Why it’s Important to Celebrate Success and Failure

10th November 2017

I have worked in the charity sector for 13 years and have noticed a number of ways that certain organisations have managed to create a very positive and nurturing culture.

By understanding how these positive environments are created, we can work towards creating workplaces where people feel valued and experienced staff are given autonomy to deliver on their projects.

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”   – Winston Churchill


One simple thing we can do is to reflect and celebrate our achievements.

Why is celebrating important?

  • Satisfaction – by celebrating and recognising contributions it helps us feel pleased that all of the hard work was worth it.
  • Motivation – when we celebrate that positive feeling can help us feel energised to work harder on the next project too.
  • Bonding – to join together and feel part of something bigger than ourselves.
  • Peer reinforcement – praise that comes not only from Managers but also the wider team is a great way to create a thriving, innovative and productive workplace.
  • Learning – if we understand and celebrate our success, it helps us to recognise the contributing factors that made it a success in the first place. This makes it more likely that future projects will be successful.   Success literally breeds success.

How can we celebrate more?

  • Build recognition and gratitude into existing business activity – e.g. in team meetings have a section in which successes are shared and people are encouraged to recognise each other in a positive and specific way
  • Social Celebrations – When projects finish or reach key milestones take the opportunity to celebrate, this helps with team bonding, but also job satisfaction as hard work is recognised and valued – e.g. have a pub lunch together on a Friday afternoon to celebrate a launch or ask everyone to bring in a dish for a pot luck lunch.
  • Small things with immediacy – Find a way to show you have noticed someone who has worked really hard or perhaps overcome a challenge, they key is to make sure you don’t wait too long to share this with them or perhaps the wider team – e.g. you could drop them an email or send around an update on the project to the wider team and thank people / teams who contributed and give specific reasons and the things you noticed that were special
  • Build a culture of celebration – Developing ways for individuals to notice their own achievements this will in turn help boost their confidence but make it ok to be pleased when something goes well and hopefully encourage recognition of one another too. – e.g could you encourage a weekly discussion on Fridays over email or using intranet / slack where people share something they are proud of that week, or perhaps a team success. This is likely something that leaders will need to adopt and lead by example to encourage the wider teams to try.

Communication and transparency to employees is important and low cost. If people feel trusted and on board, then they are more likely to be engaged. They will also feel more of a part of the success and celebration when it happens too.”Alexia Page, Google



The second is that we need to work on how we deal with failure, to reduce our fear of mistakes and the shame associated with failure.

Why is it important to fail?

  • If you are not failing you are not innovating or trying new things, this can stifle growth and productivity and also impact staff retention too
  • Often the charity sector can be cautious in its approach but with challenges increasing it is important not to retract and continue as we have done in the past as our circumstances have changed
  • Setting challenges and striving to improve, grow and learn is very motivating and inspiring, in our work we are often representing vulnerable groups and have a responsibility to not just survive but thrive and be able to help more people.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” – Richard Branson

How can we change our culture around failure?

  • Embrace failure – reframe how we perceive failure, that it is not absolute but part of our journey of learning and succeeding
  • Autonomy – Not micromanaging and giving people permission work in their own way so that they can try new things
  • Sharing – Ensuring we have an open and honest culture so that if mistakes are made they can be rectified with support from the wider team.

“If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past.” – Baruch Spinoza

Cross-Organisational Culture Change

Then in the wider context, we need to work towards sharing good and bad between organisations across the sector as we cannot afford to work in silos making the same mistakes. We can save so much time, money and energy.

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” – Gretchen Rubin

Charity Meetup

We will be exploring this topic and share things that have worked or not worked so well on Monday 27 Nov at JustGiving. Book your ticket

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Further reading: