Recognizing People. Inspiring Greatness.
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Thursday, February 28, 2013
Two amazing events converge today for a recognition encounter you won’t want to miss.
The first Friday in March every year is always deemed in North America as Employee Appreciation Day. It seems Employee Appreciation Day has been on our calendars since 1995 and was sponsored through Recognition Professionals International.
And across the Atlantic, Hans Poortvliet, initiated National Compliment Day in the Netherlands on March 1st for 10 years and now boldly proclaims it as World Compliment Day to appropriately compliment everyone we know at work, home or play. Poortvliet suggests, "Nothing stimulates more, gives more energy, makes people happier and, as far as business is concerned, increases productivity and commitment faster than sincere appreciation. So why not use it a little bit more?"
But Paul Hebert challenges these calendared days each year.
He raises a flag of concern to the point that we should boycott these kinds of one-off calendar days. If we think all we have to do is appreciate our employees on just one day of the year then we’ve got it all wrong. We will actually, as Paul suggests, be diminishing the value of the people we associate and work with.
I can see where Paul is coming from. My response to Paul was these calendared reminder days should cue us to increase our awareness of the importance of giving everyone we work with the appreciation, compliments and praise they deserve, each and every day not just on one day alone.
While these two events collide on the same day, please make appreciating and complimenting people a way of life for you every day.
Q: What do you think of calendared days that remind you of certain individuals or groups one day a year?
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
All too often I have attended industry conferences and seen many so called "recognition and reward experts."
Scratch a bit deeper and the veneer comes off! I don't mean to demean, but there are a lot of people out there who are "reward" experts but they sure aren't "recognition" experts.
Recognition and rewards are very different things.
Rewards are material things. Cold hard cash, merchandise, gift cards are all examples of rewards. They are easily understood because they cost a certain amount and are distributed a certain way. There are a lot of reward experts.
Recognition on the other hand, is a feeling, an emotion. It is not easily quantified... ever try measuring how deeply you love your wife? In many cases it is not easily distributed or given.
Remember, just because you give someone a gold watch, doesn't mean you have recognized them!
Monday, February 25, 2013
You’ll be amazed what goes on in some organizations.
When I am helping companies get alignment of their recognition practices and programs with their people and business strategies, I discover deep, dark secrets about recognition.
They have lots of recognition programs.
Yes, they have many recognition and reward programs in existence across the company. The leaders and HR folks either didn’t know they existed or just threw up their hands about them and let them run wild.
I have witnessed companies with over a hundred recognition programs running rampant. Rarely is there a companywide recognition strategy driving these programs, no clear objectives for each program to achieve, and questionable proof or impact on employee engagement and performance results.
And no one is holding the owners of these programs accountable to make sure they really deliver what they are supposed to do – meaningful recognition and results.
You likely will not need a hundred recognition programs and you probably won’t need just one program either.
Let me give you some magic numbers to point you towards knowing how many programs you really need in your company.
You need ONE Recognition Strategy that clearly articulates what recognition means to the leaders of your company so everyone is on the same page, and it has to spell out the purpose of recognition – the grand WHY – so everyone knows how to use recognition the right way. This strategy will steer you on the right path and you can vet any programs you’re considering against your strategy document.
You will also need TWO areas of recognition to concentrate on within a written Recognition Plan of action. First, must be Recognition Practices (or the processes and principles you’ll live by that make recognition happen), and then comes Recognition Programs – not the other way around!
Here’s a key hint: You only need the right number of programs essential to helping your managers and employees deliver the best recognition experiences to as many employees as possible.
Remember practices come first and programs are simply a tool for people to facilitate recognition giving. People give recognition to other people, not programs.
Looks like your Recognition Plan is going to need THREE core goal areas consisting of Focus Points, Implementation Objectives, and of course, Outcomes. Again, these will highlight the core practices as well as the programs you feel you need to focus on. Figure out how to integrate recognition into every part of your business operations and leadership practices.
Ask yourself: Where do we need to focus our efforts on to recognize better? What will it take to change the way we give recognition? How will we know we are doing better?
Only then can you properly design the recognition programs you need. Recognition programs typically fall under one of FOUR types that are most prevalent, which are:
1. Acknowledging Contributions Programs: Can be the frequently used tenure or length of service recognition gifts that allow companies to take time out to acknowledge all the many contributions employees have made over time and the varied means of celebrating individual retirement.
2. Performance Focused Programs: These are aimed at individuals or teams that reach sales or business performance milestones or perform essential activities like safety. Managers are usually in charge of these programs and bestow points redeemable for gifts, cash awards, gift cards, non-monetary gifts, certificates, or level based awards with some form of tangible item or another.
3. Recognizing People Programs: Are peer-to-peer, as well as managers to employees, who can simply use social recognition platforms, send portal managed eCards, certificates, and handwritten thank you notes to express appreciation to colleagues who live the corporate values and demonstrate exemplary behaviors.
4. Celebrating Results Programs: Companies use grand celebration events to highlight the best of the best employees for reaching top performance levels in designated achievement areas with senior leaders present to congratulate winners and set the standard of excellence for others to follow. Prestigious awards are given with tangible gifts, cash or experiential awards with the events often held at exotic or upscale locations.
Are you thinking you need programs from one or more type of recognition program? Do the different categories stimulate ideas of programs you hadn’t considered before?
There is no silver bullet answer for how many recognition and reward programs you should have. But if you follow the four steps above and examine the four types of programs available, I think you will can narrow down how many recognition programs you really need because you have first answered the grandest of all questions first.
Q: What’s your guide for determining the right number of recognition programs?
Thursday, February 21, 2013
In World at Work’s Trends in Employee Recognition 2008 survey, it was found that nearly 90% companies in North America have recognition programs. Yet, according to research by Gallup, only 35% of people surveyed said they received recognition for good work in the last year. Why is there such a huge gap?
I believe most companies place far too much emphasis on “rewards” and far too little “real recognition.”
I couldn’t agree more… especially in the recognition business.
Words are the most powerful recognition tool in the world. If spoken from the heart, they can inspire us, lift us up and take us to a higher place.
In my opinion, it's not about “what” you give... it's about “how” you give it! And words play a huge role in the “how”!
Thursday, February 14, 2013
In our research, we have learned a lot about the behaviors, knowledge and attitudes required to influence the perception of any recognition action.
One of our recent findings impacts an essential requirement associated with giving anyone a gift as a token of appreciation. The highest scoring attribute associated with tangible giving is making sure the gift is accompanied by some expression of appreciation, whether spoken or written.
Business philosopher Jim Rohn said it best, “It’s okay to send flowers, but don’t let the flowers do all the talking. Flowers have a limited vocabulary. About the best flowers can say is that you remembered.”
Add a card with the flowers sharing your feelings and thoughts for the person.
Find the perfect note or greeting card to accompany a gift you’re giving someone and even share why you selected the gift you did for them.
Tell them how what they did means to you and the company.
Create a powerful phrase to sum up your gratitude and lean in and whisper it in their ear.
The bottom line is never give a gift alone without having words firmly fastened to it!
Q: Do you take as much time with expressing your thanks as with finding the right gift?
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Recognition rarely happens these days.
And that is a shame.
When you look deep and hard at the research findings, you realize there are many reasons why people aren’t appreciating one another well, or even at all.
I’ve boiled down the rationale why recognition doesn’t happen to five core reasons. See what you think.
1. Not even thinking about it. Recognition giving isn’t on a manager or colleague’s mind. It’s not even on the radar screen. They don’t think about the self-worth of their fellow employees or the contributions they’re making day-in and day-out for the purposes of the organization they work for. It’s every man or woman for themselves. People have stopped caring for others or acknowledging the difference each is making.
2. No one has set the expectation for giving recognition. Sad but true story - people inside want to say thanks or express appreciation to others but feel they don’t have permission to do so. No one above them, or their senior leadership, has declared the importance of recognition in the company. Furthermore, no one has laid out ways for how to give recognition or set the example with how to do it right.
3. There is risk involved in doing this recognition stuff. Oh it is not always easy to make time to give recognition or give it in a way that comes across as meaningful and authentic. You have to step out of your comfort zone if you’re more introverted. You may have to get out of your office and learn about your employees and how they like to be appreciated. Recognition giving takes work and effort and you don’t know how people will respond to your attempts.
4. You haven’t fully appreciated your own worth yet. When you don’t appreciate yourself and your own contributions first it is pretty difficult to notice and observe the great things others around you are doing. Time and time again we have shown that when individuals learn to accept positive validation of how they are making a difference they are better able to appreciate other people too.
5. Lack of harmony between relationships and tasks. Work can be downright busy and time-consuming and gets in the way of more interpersonal type interactions with employees. You can look at your “to-do” list and impending deadlines staring you in the face and neglect the weightier matters like valuing your people. You can too easily prioritize tasks ahead of people when there should be a constant harmony between tasks at hand and building positive relationships.
The solution to these 5 core reasons is simple and straightforward.
* Start and end each day reflecting on what you’re grateful for and learn to appreciate the great people you get to work with.
* Make recognition a priority in your life and don’t wait for anyone to give you permission to do it - just be a positive role model on getting out and doing it.
* Appreciating people for who they are and recognizing them for what they do is easier than you think and a lot of fun brightening the lives of those you work with.
* Appreciate all you have in life and at work through journaling the insights and discoveries you have made so you can see these in other people’s lives too!
* When time is short and demands are heavy, never neglect saying thank you to those who help you get the work done.
There is never a good enough reason for not expressing thanks and appreciating people.
Q: How do you overcome the typical reasons for not giving people recognition at work?
Friday, February 8, 2013
It’s been a while since I’ve looked through a magnifying glass. Always amazing how the convex lens allows you to increase the apparent size of an object you’re looking at.
How can you similarly enlarge the value of the recognition you give to people? What can you do to increase the perceived size and importance of any recognition act and create greater excitement for it?
1. Heighten Value. Whenever a tangible gift or award is given, a recipient goes through an evaluative process to self-determine if what is given is commensurate with the effort and value of the contribution made. In other words, don’t be cheap! But of greater worth is personalizing the tangible item and discovering how the gift best represents the individual’s lifestyle and personality. Knowing individual preferences, hobbies, likes and dislikes are vital value enhancers. Sit down with each employee and find out all you can about them.
2. Exaggerate Size. What can you do to supersize your next recognition experience? Take extra time and make a big WANTED poster with the star employee’s photo. Get their colleagues to sign words of congratulations and frame it before presenting. Why not have a C-suite leader record a short video greeting expressing appreciation and project this on the wall at your staff meeting before you give your own personal acknowledgement.
3. Intensify Excitement. Get dramatic about the delivery and presentation for any act of recognition – respecting public or private wishes of the recipient. Dress up in thematic costume or be prepared to give some fun accessory such as a super hero cape to the employee. At a minimum, you must get excited yourself and let your eyes shine, your voice inflection sound upbeat, and you must demonstrate positive non-verbal actions all the way. Every act of recognition is a big deal, so show it!
4. Elevate Importance. What was special and big to the employee in making a difference for the company or to your customers, should be totally magnified before everyone else too. Get a senior leader to come and say well thought out words or at least have them send a detailed note or email expressing appreciation. Have the employee’s actions and contributions highlighted on the intranet or written up in the employee newsletter. Use display boards and corporate LCD screens to tell the world about your great employees.
The key then is to put a magnifying glass over your valuable employees and their contributions. All you have to do is make a big deal about them and show everyone else how much they really matter.
Q: Why do you think magnifying your recognition efforts is important to incorporate in your recognition practices?
Thursday, February 7, 2013
I watched the first of Danielle LaPorte’s Circle of Fire video series where she posed the question, “What do people thank you for most often?”
There’s a thought for you. What are YOU most often thanked for?
Is it your ideas? What about your kind actions? Perhaps they’re for your incredible brainstorming and smart solutions to work problems? And then again, maybe it is your spoken or written words? How about the help you provide to loved ones? Whatever the source is, soak it right up!
LaPorte suggests paying attention to these moments and making note of where and when appreciation comes to you in your life and work.
Hmm! Do they come at home, at work or when you’re serving in the community? Is it always when you have accomplished something? Maybe it is simply for the small things you do. Are the thanks given immediately, or do you hear them later on along the way?
It’s an amazing time of introspection and reflection when thinking on this question. I know I enjoyed the memories that came to mind while writing this post.
Q: How has reflecting on what you are most often thanked for made you feel?
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Are you happy with your recognition programs?
You say yes. That’s good to hear.
WorldatWork’s “Trends in Employee Recognition 2011” survey showed 86 percent of participating organizations had recognition programs of one kind or another going on.
A Bersin & Associates survey last year reported a similar percentage in the presence of recognition programs. But they also found only 58 percent of employees believed their organizations had these programs. The rest didn’t even know they existed!
These programs range from the common length of service programs, above-and-beyond performance acknowledgement, peer to peer recognition, all the way down to the less frequently used safety and attendance programs.
How can you ensure you have recognition programs you can be proud of? Reflect on these three approaches:
1. Make them experiential. Design programs that employees are excited to be acknowledged through by their managers and peers. Create the branding look and feel that engages people to participate. Make access and using the programs as easy and intuitive as you can. Make them participatory through social media formats and using gamification rules. Recognition through programs should seem as spontaneous and genuine as when given face-to-face.
2. Make them impactful. Learn what it takes for employees to feel moved and impacted by the experience of being recognized by people, even through your programs. What should the program be able to do to personalize the communication or sending of a reward so it doesn’t appear so automated? There needs to be a way to share and display the expressed appreciation to others as well as the direct 1-to-1 interaction. Measure how your recognition programs are making a difference.
3. Make them frequent. Your recognition programs need to be used often by your managers and employees as one of the many ways to appreciate one another for the contributions they’ve made. Broadcast the importance of recognition through the variety of available branded channels. Use off-line mediums such as staff meetings to communicate the great things employees have been recognized for. Did deeper on noting the timing of when recognition occurs.
Always remember that recognition programs are simply tools to assist managers in the art and practice of giving acknowledgment, recognition, and rewards through an online system.
Make your recognition programs experiential, impactful and frequently used so everyone – users and recipients – can be proud of what you have created.
Q: What features in your recognition programs make them something to be proud of?
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
There is a harsh reality in most mangers’ lives. Time.
It can seem tough fitting in giving people recognition that they deserve.
Managers tell me: “I already work 60 - 70 hours per week and I can't possibly see what everyone is doing. I simply don't have time.”
There is a simple answer to this dilemma.
Put recognition first in everything you do.
Make recognition, praise, positive feedback, acknowledging and expressing appreciation to people the first thing you do in each activity every day.
Arrive at work. Simply greet people positively each day. Say “hello” along with the person’s name. And if you see someone you know is an employee but you don’t know their name, stop them and explain how you see them all the time, ask their name and where they work, and express thanks for the introduction and go about your day. Employees what to know they are respected and valued as people first.
Online on computer. Send a genuine email of gratitude. When you start up your computer, don’t dread the emails flooding in. Before you look, read, and respond to a single email in your inbox hit “new email” and get ready to compose. Express appreciation to someone who helps make your life at work better and a little bit easier during a week. Doing this starts your day with the right attitude for seeking good things.
Meeting connection. Focus on your values and purpose. Where possible, create a morning or shift huddle to give everyone an opportunity to share a “Wow!” moment of someone living of the values and telling specifically what they did. Realign with the corporate purpose each day and give people a positive lift before work gets going.
Embed recognition. Incorporate recognition into everything you do. Acknowledging people does not have to take extra time, it just has to be top of mind in everything you do at work – sending someone on an educational course becomes an opportunity; starting off a meeting with positive feedback; being mindful how you word correspondence or emails.
Being aware. Everyone has a responsibility to acknowledge. While you may not see all the great things going on, others do. Encourage each employee to take ownership in recognizing peers and bosses for their positive contributions. Have them pass along these occurrences to you so you can pass along second-hand compliments.
The expectation needs to be set that we are all recognition revolutionaries. We each have a responsibility to acknowledge people and give recognition for the valued contributions made by our employees.
Make it a priority!
Q: Why should giving recognition become a priority in our lives?