Mediahuis Belgium’s product team sets aside time for intentional celebration

By Sarah Faict

Mediahuis Belgium

Antwerp, Belgium


By Stijn Vercamer

Mediahuis Belgium

Antwerp, Belgium


At Mediahuis Belgium, as in any other media company, we focus a lot on our digital products.

That’s a very sound strategic choice, but it can also lead to a lot of pressure on the product teams: Everybody has an opinion on what they do, what is being delivered, the way projects are prioritised, and so on. This means that product teams tend to get — in addition to occasional praise, of course — a lot of negative feedback.

To make sure this doesn’t get you and your team down, celebrations are a key element to success.

The product team at Mediahuis Belgium will intentionally consider its achievements for the first time in 2023.
The product team at Mediahuis Belgium will intentionally consider its achievements for the first time in 2023.

To find a more positive vibe, this might be a simple and fulfilling exercise: Think back to where the product organisation stood three years ago and where you are now. Speaking for ourselves, this is a very rewarding exercise. We launched new news apps, new paper apps, new ways of working, new objectives and key results (OKRs), better business prioritisation, and better newsletters — to name a few things.

We’re pretty sure the same goes for your teams.

And while you’re at it, why not celebrate all that great work? It does not have to be a big party or an expensive trip with the whole team (though both are good ideas, of course).

Our last celebration was a breakfast at our Brussels office. The team received two questions the week before: Looking back on the past half year, what are you most proud of, professionally and personally? This comes down to: What do you think is worth celebrating?

Going through the answers was a very pleasant experience that showed our team has gone through a lot of change. What stood out was that most answers weren’t related to project outcomes like launching a great app. Rather, people said things like, “I grew in my role.” It appeared that personal experiences within our jobs gave us a lot of satisfaction.

Motivation and culture

Is this a hippie culture for soft-skilled managers? Of course not.

Motivating your teams is beneficial in every way: People are driven and feel confident about their jobs. It is also important not to underestimate the sense of impact: Individual contributions to the team effort are recognised and valued. This is good news for colleagues, of course, but it also leads to better results for the company.

Additionally, celebrating should also be part of your company culture. At Mediahuis Belgium, we call our leadership programme “BRAVE.” The last letter stands for “empowering.” One of the quotes used in that training is, “Failures teach you what doesn’t work for you. Achievements teach you what does.”

We believe strongly that celebrating those achievements should be part of our culture. It boosts the morale and the team spirit.

Next steps

We have had some good experiences with celebrating, but it is not a structural part of our way of working yet. That is why we want to set up a new step in our product cycle. We’ll probably call it “celebrating together” because we like to keep things simple and clear.

We think the ideal time for celebrating is in between quarters. We typically have a big planning session at the end of every quarter. That is also a great time to look back and see what we achieved. It’s also a good moment to have a look at the results noted in our OKRs: What worked? What did not?

We’ll have our first session early October, right at the start of the new quarter. We don’t know yet how we will concretely organise that. It is often said that Belgians are Burgundians and, therefore, love food and drink. So, chances are there will be something to eat. Whether that will be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, we will let you know later this year!

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