Thursday, December 21, 2006

Celebrate - you, the person!

Learning & Innovation – December 21, 2006
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Celebrate—you, the person!

In many company celebrations—Christmas party, awards night/day, anniversary, Halloween (Yes, some companies observe this officially.), celebratory meetings, and others—notice that:
  • There is a special table/s in the center of the room for owner/s and family, executives and guests of owners and executives. The rest are called employees and they comprise the audience.
  • The tables and/or chairs are all facing a stage or what looks like one. There is hardly any eye contact or unrestricted opportunity to chat among employees.
  • The one who presides over the meeting or emcees the program is the star, even the God of the evening or day, and has the most exposure and airtime and seems to have the license to say or do whatever regardless of needs and feelings that abound.
Continuing from last week’s column, authors Terence E. Deal and M.K. Key (Corporate Celebration) identified the ingredients of great celebrations and the last two are:

  • “Family and affiliation: the collective experience. Affiliation is a means of survival in our species. It is also the underpinning of self-esteem—you are honored and affirmed by being accepted and belonging to a cohesive group.
Celebrations feature inclusiveness: I belong to a family, a team, other people. Celebrations help build interpersonal union by fostering common roots and traditions. They provide social support for being yourself and believing that you matter, that your talents are appreciated and used. Ritual and ceremony acculturate, give meaning to symbols, and help people learn a common language. Peter Block, in his book Stewardship, sees a vital need for personal connectedness in the workplace because the workplace has become the era’s new ecumenical cathedral, one of the few places where people congregate anymore. Marianne Williamson, in A Return to Love, also sees the workplace as a front for a temple, a healing place for people. Celebration knits individual psyches into a shared feeling of fellowship and family.
  • “Focus: every function has a functional payoff. Without a common vision or purpose, individual effort fragments into a grating cacophony rather than a pleasurable symphony. The result is a dangling discord, with almost everyone singing from a different song sheet or following his or her unique script. Celebration needs to have a focal point, a reason, a theme, which becomes the framework for expression. What we do for the sheer joy of it also helps an organization function at a higher level of performance—something we too often forget or ignore. Celebration creates and focuses the energy needed for an organization to produce results.”
Organization leaders and celebration organizers—usually the human resource unit--seem to be forgetting that a Christmas is meant for the whole organization as a family to celebrate the birth of Christ and our salvation. It is not a show. It is to share appreciation for every one in the organization through fellowship.

A company is nothing without its leaders and employees. No matter how well intentioned it is, how high tech it is, how beautiful and updated its machines, methods, furniture and fixtures are, how awash with cash it is, and how well-connected it is.

People—owners, leaders, employees, customers, suppliers, community—are the most important components of a business. All the rest are tools. Leaders and employees set up the business, plan it, produce products and render services—the reason for celebrating.

I am thrilled that Time Magazine has named You and Me as the Person of the Year. Indeed, the Internet will be nothing if not for the many websites and blogs of ordinary and not-so-ordinary people like you and me.

“Who are these people? The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you.”


(Moje consults on business excellence and talent management. Her email addy is

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