Julie Holunga | Chinook Executive Solutions Founder/Executive Coach

Julie Holunga | Chinook Executive Solutions Founder/Executive Coach

“I don’t want to go to this happy hour. But I know I need to celebrate with my team. How do I congratulate them, while also managing their expectations?”

Brad leads a team of 8 consultants. They just successfully completed a complex year-long engagement with a client. Once the deliverables were in the hands of the client, a few members of the team approached Brad.

“Where are we going to grab drinks tonight to celebrate?”

Brad was caught off guard. Not that his team wanted to celebrate their success, but rather how they wanted to celebrate. He sent an email to the team to commend them on their success. He sent another to the leadership team praising their work and process. He wasn’t expecting to also celebrate socially.

This group of individuals, the party planners, shared that they had been talking about this celebration for a number of days and were looking forward to celebrating with Brad. This was not typical for Brad, nor was it comfortable for him.

Brad joined the other members of his team that afternoon for happy hour. They celebrated and laughed at some of the surprises of the project. After an hour, he politely excused himself. A few others were soon to follow.

As Brad drove home, he realized he was not the only one who was a little uncomfortable by the celebration. He was slightly relieved, and yet curious why.

Back in the office a few days later, he met with each member of the team to best understand what motivates each individual to push through the stressful periods, and how they like to acknowledge the completion of big engagements. And with each conversation he gained a clear picture of how they each like to celebrate.

The answers to his questions aligned with the team’s Emergenetics Profiles. Emergenetics is an assessment tool that examines how ways of thinking and behaviors affect work environments. Through the tool, individuals learn to leverage their own strengths and develop awareness of others. The profile provides a roadmap to understand preferred modes of communications, and how to use the information to be more effective, productive, collaborative, and creative in their daily work. And in Brad’s team’s case, how to celebrate.

The Emergenetics thinking preferences like to celebrate successes:

  • Analytical Preference – They like to celebrate by analyzing what the impact of a celebration is on the team. They will analyze both why they need to celebrate, and its importance.
  • Structural Preference – Those with a Structural preference will celebrate as they always have. They will consider how the celebration is planned, and would love to create a process and guidelines to planning future celebrations. They may be hesitant to trying something new or unpredictable.
  • Social Preference – Those with a Social preference will focus on their teammates and their desire to connect with each other. They will consider how everyone on the team wants to celebrate. It needs to be a genuine celebration where everyone is engaged. The members of Brad’s team who planned the happy hour have a social preference.
  • Conceptual Preference – Those with a Conceptual preference will want to celebrate in a way that hasn’t been done before. They want to try something new. Happy hour will not be celebratory enough for the completion of this project. They will consider something unusual and enjoy the process of brainstorming the activity.

Once Brad realized the differences between his team members’ preferences, he understood not only what motivated them but also how to celebrate in a way to meet each of his members’ preferences.



Julie Holunga is an executive business coach who trains and develops small-medium size business leaders, attorneys, and CPAs to bring their careers to the next level. She is a sounding board for emerging, onboarding, and current leaders who want to take control of their careers. Julie works with professionals to clarify how they remain focused on what matters most, build relationships for business development, communicate and influence others, keep themselves and others aligned and accountable, and lead their organizations to excel. Through their work together, clients elevate their careers and ultimately bring more value to their colleagues and organizations.