Fifteen months post lockdown, we’ve just wrapped up our first full academic pandemic year. And what a year it was. Chances are you’re already neck deep in summer RA projects, summer writing, and AALL prep, not to mention Fall 2021 is just around the corner. All this work is important and time is scant, but I’m here to advocate you take a day off, or an afternoon off, or even an hour. I’m not saying waste that time, although I am not alone in my fandom for the wasted day. This time, I want you to spend that time partying.
Specifically, we need to celebrate this milestone, the completion of the most unusual academic year in our lifetimes. We made it. If we look at the last 12-18 months as a whole, it can seem pretty unsurmountable, but reflecting on the many milestones we marked along the way can be beneficial to ourselves, our coworkers, and our universities generally.
Marking milestones is an important part of the project management process, and this year was nothing if not one big project. Project management is a large part of many librarian positions, including my own. As such, we are familiar with the phases of project management:
- Initiation Phase
- Planning Phase
- Execution Phase
- Closure Phase
When we first locked down in March 2020, many of us were scrambling to deliver services for the remainder of the academic year in a climate we never imagined. But going into academic year 2020-2021, we brainstormed, made a plan, and executed it. Our library instituted changes like a seat reservation system, we discussed ways to foster engagement with the students remotely, and amped up our faculty outreach. The year was marked with many firsts: first video tutorial for RA training; first time presenting on Zoom; and countless more. Although librarian experiences varied across the country, we all had many firsts this year and they should be celebrated. The project isn’t done until each phase is complete, including closure.
It can be easy for employers and project managers to gloss over this last phase, but it is arguably the most important for the members of the your team. Milestones are more than just an excuse to party. They can actually help your employees to get through large, daunting tasks (such as teaching and working during a global pandemic), by breaking them into more manageable chunks. Teams presented with milestones perform better than teams that do not.
In addition, a recent 2015 study found that employee recognition had a:
- 90% positive impact on engagement
- 86% increase in employee happiness
- 84% improvement in employee relationships &
- 68% positive impact on retention
Celebrating milestones nourishes our growth, locks in learning, and reminds us to give thanks for everyday moments. Essentially, taking an hour, an afternoon, or more to recognize our accomplishments and a job well done has far reaching impact that employers will reap the benefit from for months to come. So pop the champagne (or sparkling non-alcoholic, this IS a library after all) and serve up the cake before we transition into summer because…we did it! We completed this project, perhaps one of the most difficult and important projects of our careers. And we could all use a little celebration.