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Celebrating the small things

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Agile, UKHO

As a Scrum Master at the UKHO, I work with teams of people to help them focus on delivery and user needs. Part of my job is to inspect what these teams do so that we can help, inspire and learn from each other.

Like many Digital, Data and Technology delivery managers across government, I’m also involved with helping people overcome obstacles - sometimes doing things myself, but often helping people to come up with their own solutions to difficult problems.

This means I interact with people across the organisation which, in turn, means I see people do a lot of small (but great!) things that should be celebrated.

UKHO employees with their laptops in an informal 'coffee and code' meeting

Little things can make a big difference

I’m a firm believer that we should celebrate the small things – from the very busy IT support manager that takes time out to keep other teams informed, to the software engineer that goes out of their comfort zone to run an agile retrospective for the team.

This is because happiness is important; not only because it’s quite nice being happy, but also because it’s a big productivity bonus to have your team in good spirits.

So how do we celebrate these small steps of improvement? One simple (but often overlooked) way is by giving genuine thanks to someone in a situation in which it has been earned. It’s easy enough to just say something and such a small action can give you and the person receiving the thanks a little boost for the day.

Sometimes though it feels appropriate to do a bit more, to put a little more effort into the thanks...

WoW ‘Cheers!’ vouchers

Here at the UKHO we have a way to do that little bit more to make colleagues feel valued - by giving ‘WoW Cheers!’ vouchers.

These can be used to get a beverage and a snack in the staff canteen as a small way of saying thank you – whether it’s a peer or a manager, in your own team or in another division. And the route to getting them is also easy; nearly all teams have champions who are able to give them out on request.

It clearly says “we value our people making lots of small improvements”, which is a great message.

Creating a culture of trust

These vouchers are part of our ‘Ways of Working’ programme, focused on creating the right culture for our organisation. At the UKHO, we want to encourage trust so that people feel they have the authority to make decisions. We hope that by rewarding this behaviour, this will help us to innovate, be flexible and improve how we work as an organisation.

At Defra, I wrote about influencing culture from the ground up; this is a thought shared with the UKHO – that by supporting and encouraging smaller positive actions as an organisation, it can drive real change. Not only does this result in more smiles, but also helps us to support a myriad of great everyday things that our people do to help us build a better UKHO.

Celebrate the small things, it really helps.

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