Q: I do not think the managers in our organisation celebrate successes very well, but when we do try - for example, with staff newsletters - it seems a bit underwhelming. I cannot decide whether doing very local things is the best way, or something more corporate.

And how do we make sure It is not the same people being celebrated each time? How could I make it seem like people celebrating each other rather than something top-down?

A: What a pity that your managers do not celebrate success very well.

You can approach this on two levels.

Locally and day-to-day it is important to recognise success and acknowledge the contributions of individuals. Provided it is done with good judgement, there will be little cynicism. Praise fairly given does not only please the people who are praised. Colleagues take pleasure in genuine success and recognition. It is much better to do it in person.

The second level is to design a process that gives a sense of occasion. A good way to do this is to organise an awards event. I attended two recently and both went well. In the first case a process of nominations by patients, carers and staff, followed by panel discussion, led to a ceremony. I read out some of the nominations and it was moving to hear what people thought about the care they had received or witnessed.

In the second event, people presented their work to a panel of judges, including a patient, and to an audience of colleagues. It was encouraging to hear the excellent work, to be reminded of the values, commitment, enthusiasm, skills and experience of the people of NHS employees.

It is good for colleagues to hear about what other people are doing. It is not unusual for work done in one department to be known by the same department in other trusts, sometimes even in other countries, but not by the people in other departments down the corridor.

Use these methods and there is a good chance you can have cynicism-free bottom-up celebration that means something to the people who matter.

Ken Jarrold is chief executive of County Durham and Tees Valley strategic health authority. E-mail in confidence to alexis.

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