get a gong. you can't go wrong.

I keep a stolen gong on my desk. Well, it was actually abandoned by someone who left the company. But “stolen” adds dramatic flair, right? And now you’re really curious. I never could have imagined that such a something as simple as a gong would become a tool for team building. 

Here’s the backstory…

Several years ago, I walked past an empty desk and stopped in amazement when I saw it sitting there. Who would leave such a precious thing behind? I immediately had flashbacks to my time at Constant Contact where I sat four cubicle rows down from a very tenacious direct sales team. I’d be heads down in my work, my brow furrow in concentration when, out of nowhere...

GONG! followed by whoops and applause.

Sales reached their daily goal. GONG!

Or their quarterly goal. GONG!

Or their hourly goal. GONG!

Was it distracting? Yes.
Did Marketing think it was totally cheesy and cliche? Oh yes.
Were we jealous that no one was ringing a gong for us? Probably.

Even though my stomach dropped to my feet in shock every time they hit the gong and a milestone, I loved the celebratory notion of it. 

Fast forward a few years...

After confirming with a colleague that the gong had in fact been abandoned, it came to live with me,  and not a moment too soon. I was leading a small marketing team of two, supporting a group of about 20 Sales and Account Management professionals. Our jobs were challenging. Resources were limited. Sales goals were high. We needed some upbeat energy. As we went through our weeks, months and quarters, I’d identify small wins guessed it, I'd ring the gong:

The sales team closed a new client. Obvious GONG! 

A colleague got off the phone with a prospect they had been chasing for months. GONG!

We added a critical field to Salesforce. GONG!

Marketing brought in our first 1,000 leads from LinkedIn. GONG!

A member of my team was accepted to speak at HubSpot's INBOUND conference. GONG! GONG! GONG!

We broke the office silence. We whooped and applauded. We laughed. We celebrated. For a moment, our hurdles weren’t so massive. Ringing the gong legitimatley brought our team together. It showed our colleagues that we were innovating and owning it. I introduced the gong for unselfish reasons, but selfishly it also became an indicator of who I am as a leader and how I build teams and cultures. 

In summary…

We take time to think about all that what we could be doing better or how we could do things differently. But are we taking time to celebrate all that is going right? The small wins and the huge triumphs? Are we bringing fun to the workplace? I’m not talking about pool tables or beer carts. Are we fostering an environment that encourages people to be themselves everyday?

When was the last time that YOU drove this kind of positive change at work? You don't even have to be a manager. Anyone can do it.

Listen, I get it. A gong may not be the solution for every office. There are different ways to achieve the same goal. Put up a chalk board or white board and call out wins as they happen. Bring in donuts or equally unhealthy breakfast items to celebrate. Gather colleagues together for an impromptu beer after work and pass around the high fives. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Just lead the charge and do it regularly.

In closing, if you do decide to purchase (or steal) a gong, remember: it’s not the size of your gong that matters. It’s what happens when you ring it.

Do you have your own version of a gong? Share your insights in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you! 


Thumbnail photo credit:  Manja Benic from Unsplash