Posted May 12, 2016 by Katie Junot 

Celebrate the Small Victories

If there is one thing I have learned in my collaborative role of building a student center from scratch at the University of the District of Columbia, it is that celebrating the small victories is an absolute must.

Our student center’s first three months were packed with excitement for the new offerings and what’s to come, though it was balanced by tempering expectations and policies. It is still very much a building under construction, as our staff routinely explains to students, faculty, staff, and guests. It isn’t easy to show a client the beautiful, new ballroom then have to explain that our audio-visual installation has experienced some delays, so their conference will need to make do with a portable PA system and portable projector.

Amid the daily chaos, we are also writing policies, procedures, and guidelines to help keep our student center highly functioning and feel like new. These changes require a shift for many of our staff and colleagues, and sometimes have to be further modified to correct an issue or accommodate an unanticipated need. This can lead to frustrations with our campus colleagues as they adjust for our learning curve and changing policies.

I never thought I would be so excited about a furniture delivery or a sign installation. I recall one day in particular filled with back-to-back stress-inducing meetings when it felt as though nothing would be completed in a timely fashion and the light at the end of the tunnel seemed very far away. As our team walked through our picturesque atrium, we noticed the construction crews putting final touches on the marquee sign that proudly displays in front of our student center.

That moment felt like such a victory after an exhausting month of chaos and politicking. It helped remind us that we, as a team, were working on something meaningful, fruitful, and our contributions enhance the community. The rest of that afternoon was spent joyfully pointing out the sign to our colleagues and relishing in the fact that a task on our extensive punch list was completed.

It is crucial for any team to pause for a moment and celebrate the small victories, which can be done in a large variety of ways. If you don’t already, try to start or end staff meetings by allowing team members to share their joyful and productive moments in the past week. Another idea is to acknowledge the completion of a demanding individual or group task, such as the process of a particularly contentious policy or a complicated work order that adds a critical element to your student center.

It’s also important to take a break from the hustle and bustle of a busy semester to celebrate each other. This could be a social gathering as simple as a potluck where everyone brings their favorite snacks, or something more elaborate if your campus culture and budget allows.

The purpose of celebrations like these is to ensure space is given for appreciation and thanks. A simple thank you or recognition for the hard work by each staff member goes a long way.
Katie Junot

Katie Junot is the Associate Director, Student Center at University of the District of Columbia.

Katie oversees the operations of the student center. She obtained her bachelor’s in social science education from Florida State University and continued her education at the University of Central Florida where she completed her master’s in higher education: student personnel.

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