Party by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Author

In the last month, I’ve been fortunate to attend several parties, celebrations, recognitions, cookouts, and dinners. Some were surprises, others were planned. Some were small, others were large. Some were expensive, others were “cheap.” Some were tied to organizational performance, others were based on a social calendar.

You get the idea. The last month has been a time of celebration and recognition. A time of partying! … Now before you get the wrong idea, not all parties are wild and crazy! King David knew how to throw a party. So did the pilgrims. So do some of the people and organizations with whom I’m currently associated.

Some disclaimers and clarifications up-front:

  1. A party/celebration is never an excuse for wrong behavior. Period.
  2. It’s ok to celebrate results, behaviors, and “events” (like a birthday). In fact, the more partying there is, the better.
  3. It’s ok to have fun.
  4. Parties create memories.
  5. Picture taking and food are party requirements. So are people. Hopefully, this is obvious.
  6. The word party is NOT a bad word. There are good and bad parties like there is good and bad “everything.”

Allow me to share some of the parties I’ve attended recently. And yes, this is the party season, though by-no-means should this be the only time of the year you attend or throw a party. The purpose of my sharing is to encourage you to party. Look for excuses to party. To celebrate. To reinforce. Results AND behaviors.

Thanksgiving: We attended a Thanksgiving dinner with several friends. Living in the Philippines, we modified the menu some, but still had many of the traditional foods, along with some local additions.

Birthday: Locally, the tradition is to take your friends out to eat (or have them over) on your birthday. My wife and I both have December birthdays so we had a joint party and invited a handful of close friends to a local restaurant. … We also attended the party of a close friend of ours who also has a December birthday. … I came into work on my birthday for a couple hours (though I’d take the day off and was formally on vacation) and received a surprise birthday party. My executive assistant knew I was coming in for a couple hours. There was singing, dancing, balloons, presents, and food. It was marvelous.

Work: We had a formal year-end “Awards Night” and a separate Christmas party. These were both large scale events with live music, entertainment, catered food, and MANY awards. Awards were given out for a variety of accomplishments and behaviors. On any given week (the last few weeks were no exception), I also attend numerous award ceremonies (mini-parties) that focus on achievements, behaviors, and results for individuals and teams.

Christmas Eve/Christmas: On Christmas Eve and Christmas, we celebrated the birth of Christ with family and friends. Again, a party complete with music, food, laughter, and presents.

Social: We also attended the opening of a local resort. It was a bit more formal and was attended by a few “normal” people like us and some “high society” people. There was, again, music, dancing, food, laughter, and a short ceremony dedicating the new resort.

If I scanned my brain and worked a bit, maybe I could think of a few more parties I’ve attended, planned, or enjoyed during the last few weeks. Yet hopefully this overview provides a glimpse of the parties I’ve attended. As previously noted, some are tied to results or demonstrate behaviors. Some are tied to calendar events (like a birthday). Some are tied to milestones.

Yet all have a purpose. They create memories for families, friends, and colleagues (and Face Book material). They provide a relief from stress. They reinforce good behaviors. They celebrate results.

It’s ok to be a “party animal” – in the right context and within the right boundaries. Organizations (and people in them) perform better when there are parties. People like recognition. People like having fun. People are more likely to repeat (or achieve higher) performance when they receive recognition (verbal “praise” is often a part of the reinforcement process found at a party).

Note that there is a cultural element involved. Know the culture, customs, and individual interests of those for whom you’re throwing the party. Some people like public attention. Others do not. Some people want to be in every picture. Some like to hide. Never embarrass anyone and try to make it a comfortable environment that has a bit of something for everyone.

How will you bring in 2013? What achievements (tangible goals and behaviors) can you celebrate in the upcoming weeks? Did you have a great 2012? A great 4th Quarter? How do you recognize key accomplishments and milestones? How do you recognize opportunities for a party?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

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