MHN Executive Council: Strategies to Celebrate Your Team

Looking for ways to celebrate your employees' wins? Here are some tips.

Looking for ways to retain your employees? Celebrate their wins! This month, the MHN Executive Council shares how they motivate their team members.


Mary Cook
Mary Cook

Leveling Up

We seek out opportunities to give our employees new experiences outside of the office. Activities that are atypical of an individual’s normal routine provide inspiration in unusual places and enhance feelings of being appreciated as a valued team member. For example, our VP of Operations recently participated in a Chicago ULI Product Council tour that strengthened his industry knowledge and gave him a chance to network with new contacts. Another employee traveled to a tile manufacturer in Spain to better understand the product and build relationships with the vendor.

Along that line, our company has neither a front of house or back of house—everyone at every level is encouraged to regularly interact with clients to build relationships that deepen trust over time. Being in close communication with clients boosts engagement, a sense of pride and real ownership in the work. When the work wins national recognition, we make sure the lead designer takes part in the celebration and receives recognition in and out of the office. —Mary Cook, President, Mary Cook Associates


Diana Norbury

Sharing the Spotlight

We understand success starts with our team, so team member celebration is a high priority at Pillar! Everyone in our company can recognize fellow team members through our internal recognition platform. This platform is used daily across every level and department to highlight the exceptional efforts, both big and small taking place throughout our company every day. The messages of kudos are a feed of positivity, humorous GIFs and a spot-on representation of our culture.

We celebrate our teams in our monthly newsletter, spotlighting new team members, anniversaries, and birthdays. This newsletter also includes our month of recognition, sharing the top receiver of kudos messages from our recognition platform!

Quarterly, our dedicated recognition committee plans company events that vary from team member specific events to events for the whole family! Team members take time away from work, or a day-off for a sporting event, hands-on activity, or lakeside BBQ! Our events are highly attended and appreciated as an opportunity for our different teams to come together. Our company also comes together every quarter for all-team meetings, during these meetings we present quarterly awards to our highest performing property and an individual nominated by fellow team members prior to the meeting. The individual receives a monetary reward and the property team gets to take time away from work for a company sponsored outing of their choice!

Our team member recognition culminates during our E.P.I.C. Holiday Bash! We celebrate the season, past year’s accomplishments, and announce annual team member awards. These prestigious awards are presented to four individuals who embody our company values of excellence, passion, innovation, and commitment as determined by our executive team and nominations from fellow team members. The winners are announced at the event through a surprise video, and the winners as well as our entire team are suitably celebrated at our much-anticipated party! The winners receive a monetary reward, as well as the opportunity to travel to and attend a national industry conference. —Diana Norbury, Senior Vice President, Pillar Properties 


K. David Meit

Celebration Time

At Oculus Realty, we like to celebrate wins no matter their impact. A great customer review, project completion, earning a professional designation, or exceeding financial goals all warrant celebration. I send all team members an email or hand-written note acknowledging their accomplishments. We also believe in breaking bread together to celebrate, motivate and team-build. We host lunches, dinners, or happy hours wherever the teams want to go. I have learned to meet people where they wish to be—it’s not always the fancy steak joint. We also like to publicly acknowledge our teams’ successes through social media posts on LinkedIn or similar platforms. Lastly, we constantly recognize our service teams, whose impact is often overlooked in property management. They touch our customers more than anyone. Celebrate their accomplishments, too! —K David Meit, Principal, Oculus Realty


Jessica Heckman, Director of Residential Asset Management, Larken Associates

Cashing Out

In today’s competitive hiring market, it’s incredibly important to both celebrate and motivate your team. I think that starts by acknowledging their wins—both big and small. This can be done in person, via emails, or even shoutouts on social media. This can be done individually or with an audience for bigger impact. Establishing a consistent way to acknowledge employee’s success goes a long way in building a lasting team culture. While I think those accolades are important, cash is still king. Bonuses go a long way. Our company will hold quarterly and/or annual competitions that have a monetary award as the prize. We also offer spot bonuses up to a certain amount at manager’s discretion. When an employee overcomes a difficult challenge for the good of the company, a bonus goes a long way into reinforcing that behavior and motivates them in the long run. Property Management has long been a human business and despite the advances we’re making in AI to streamline our operations, we still need great, caring employees. Motivating and celebrating them should be one of a manager’s top priorities. —Jessica Heckman, Director of Residential Asset Management, Larken Associates


Interested in joining the MHN Executive Council and sharing your insights? Email Jessica Fiur.

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