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Magnifying the Value of the Recognition You Give

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?
Teaser: 
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What Are You Most Often Thanked For?

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?

Teaser: 
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Build a Recognition Program You Can Be Proud Of

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?

Teaser: 
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How can you expect me to give recognition?

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.
 
Prioritize.
 
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?
Teaser: 
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Keep Recognition Alive with Second-Hand Compliments

Before Likes, Retweets and posts existed via social media there was spoken and written second-hand compliments.
 
A second-hand compliment is simply positive feedback about yourself (or another person) passed along to you (or someone else) by a person who heard the feedback first.
 
You can make recognition happen in all kinds of unique ways by resharing the great and wonderful things you’ve heard about people, or seen them do, that they just never hear about directly.
 
A friend speaks positively about the service or meal quality at a restaurant you dined at together. Take the time to find the maître de, the server or the chef and tell them exactly what your friend told you.
 
Your manager shares how a colleague made a difference on an essential project everyone is focused on. When you return to your desk send the colleague an email capturing the essence of what the manager said about them or give them a call.
 
Perhaps you were in a project meeting and you hear about how a team member came up with a brilliant innovative solution on how to improve a process on the production line. Next time you see them in the hallway or in the cafeteria make it your mission to go over and compliment them and let them know what others thought about them and their idea.
 
Pass along any positive words, feedback or compliments right away while they are still fresh for the picking!
 
Q: What can you do each day to increase your awareness for capturing second-hand compliments you can pass along to others?
Teaser: 
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What Does It Really Take to Be Best of the Best?

Seems the Baseball Writers Association of America (BWAA), collectively, made an important stand. They did not elect a single player to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This is the seventh time in history this has happened.
 
You have to ask yourself what it really takes to be considered the best of the best, even in baseball.
 
To be at the pinnacle, the summit, the very best, requires significant performance achievement. Being the best of the best must have strict criterion that judges will use to evaluate nominees against – a standard.
 
This is the same for your own best of the best formal awards program. You must create clear, unquestionable criterion for your judges and programs to evaluate people against, and determine who the best is.
 
Here are some baseball facts to consider. Of the 569 ballots cast, Hall of Famer potentials need to be selected by 75% of voters to gain induction. Take, for example, Craig Biggio, the longtime Houston Astros second baseman who has achieved 3,060 hits in his career – he was the closest candidate with 388 votes. However, his name was only on 68.2% of the ballots cast – not enough to reach the standard of 75%.
 
But something else played a role in the in BWAA writers’ decision not to nominate anyone to the Hall of Fame – even well-known names like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

You can be one of the greatest baseball players on the field with unquestionable performance but what matters most is how you got those results.

Enter the Steroid Era and the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED). A player can have indisputable results on the field but if they are even slightly tainted with the brush of using PEDs, the judges are challenged putting someone on the roster with questionable moral character as a Hall of Famer.

Being the best of the best, then, is really all about integrity. The act of doing those things that are morally right, even when no one is watching you or when you’re behind closed doors.

For your own best of the best programs, examine carefully any potential rigging, manipulating, unacceptable methods, and inconsistency in living corporate values, in achieving what appears on face-value to be the best of all high performance.

Integrity will always be the final indicator of who your Hall of Famers will be.

Q: Have your values helped you in determining who your real best of the best performers are?

Teaser: 
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Give Recognition Like a Real Leader

When Napoleon Bonaparte was captured on July 15th, 1815 as he boarded the ship HMS Bellerophon, he told Captain Frederick Lewis Maitland of the British fleet, "A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.“

Similarly, one unsure technical manager at Hewlett-Packard once handed an excited engineer a banana from his lunch along with the words of recognition, “Well done! Congratulations!” Seems this engineer burst into his manager’s office claiming he had solved a difficult technical problem. The manager simply grabbed the banana from his lunch and acknowledged the employee enthusiastically uttering words of appreciation. Today, H-P’s Golden Banana Award is legendary and the most prestigious award to honor technical innovation.
 
Whether with ribbons, bananas or heartfelt words, great leaders know how to show that their people matter and how to celebrate their accomplishments.
 
Here are a few things great leaders do to give real recognition:
 
Real Leaders connect with their people. They know the importance of getting out of their offices and having face-to-face time with employees. Leaders know a little bit about most people and communicate with employees about what they know and try to solicit information for the next encounter. This is where you have to bring harmony in your life between relationships, tasks and your personal responsibilities – just don’t neglect your employees.
 
Real Leaders invest time on acknowledging. I have known two CEO who at the end of a busy day either on a train or in their office scheduled time to write personal notes and thank you cards to employees across the company. This act alone fosters an awareness of gratitude for employees and their contributions to the company. Plan the giving of recognition in so you don’t forget and allow appreciative reflections at the end of the day to remind you of what your people do for you.
 
Real Leaders seek out details. These leaders will ask their managers and assistants to keep them informed on employee’s accomplishment and want the whole scoop on how the employee’s efforts made a difference in the lives of other people. Leaders find out the employee’s contribution connection and meaning maker they can comment on. Go and discover all you can about your employees and form positive relationships with them.
 
Real Leaders share their emotion. I learned from Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson who S. Max Brown and I interviewed today, and author of Love 2.0, how making eye contact is the key gateway to connecting and demonstrating sincerity. The tone of voice is another vehicle to come together emotionally and bring our whole being into the conversation. Draw deep from your emotions and emote your feelings of appreciation.
 
Q: When you have seen leaders in action giving Real Recognition what have you observed on how they do it well?
Teaser: 
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But Is It Real Recognition?

Last time you were recognized by someone did it feel good? Or did it seem hollow?
Take the leader for example who never says boo to their employees any day of the week. Then, come the annual awards celebration night, they’re all smiles, pleasantries and handshakes with congratulatory words when presenting awards on stage in front of everyone. Something’s not right.
 
Or there’s the supervisor who suddenly thanks you profusely for getting that shipment out ahead of time and, before leaving, immediately assigns you another project to get done by tomorrow. When your praised by them you’re always thinking, “I wonder what they want now!”
 
What about the repeated, “Great job!” or “Well done!” said by some people which just doesn’t ring true for some reason.
 
Each attempt at giving recognition by these people appears empty of real feelings.
 
This supposed recognition that was given is not real.
 
It is unauthentic.
 
Empty.

Authenticity comes with time, effort and practice.

How do you get to be genuinely authentic with your recognition giving?

You need to fill yourself up on these five ways to be perceived as authentic:

1. Be consistent with your expressions. One of the greatest ways to have your acknowledgments undisputed by leaders and employees alike is to become a consistent giver of thanks to people. Praise them for the great things they do and encourage them to be able to more and better.

2. Prove yourself trustworthy. Tell the truth in everything you do at work, home and play. Be candid with your opinions without playing games with people. Be honest in your dealings with people. Others will observe your truthfulness and communicate to everyone they can believe you.

3. Name your sources. Authenticity always is proven based upon facts. So when recognizing someone it is always important to identify what exactly a person accomplished or contributed. You can’t argue with the facts.

4. Develop your credibility. When people can rely on you by what you do and say they can’t help but believe you. They know your expressions of recognition and commendation are honest. Credibility is the sum total of proving yourself worthy of another person’s confidence and trust.

5. Communicate with feelings. If you don’t put any emotions into your positive feedback then it won’t be seen as positive. If you don’t display genuine excitement in your non-verbal and spoken expressions it won’t be felt. So do it one more time with feeling.

Remember all your expressions of appreciation and recognition will be judged by the recipients.

Learn to give Real Recognition by doing it right. Be authentic.

Q: How are you able to tell when the recognition you receive is authentic?

Teaser: 
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Recognition On the Go

We don’t stay put for very long, do we?
 
We are constantly on the move from project to project, place to place, and person to person.
 
It is hard to stay on top of all what people innovate, say, do, create, achieve, fail at, think, assist with, etc.
 
Social media via mobile technology changes all that.

 
No wonder the proliferation of mobile technology for us to stay connected with one another. Excluding using mobile technology for emails, SMS messages, and voice calls, owners of smartphones use 19% of their total monthly usage on interacting with people on a social level. They spend an average of 410 minutes per month doing these social interactions with one or many.
 
Social media via this mobile technology helps with all this too.
 
Think Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all the other social media platforms.
 
This is why you can’t wait to say thank you to someone. You can’t expect to just hold on to that praise for when you show up at the office – especially if you work virtually and don’t even see the people who help you. The key to keep in mind for expressing meaningful recognition in our highly mobile world, is to do, give, say and send recognition right away.
 
Use the medium best suited for the individual. If using Facebook and Twitter be careful with public walled messages when a private one would have been preferred. Direct message maybe the best route to go and then saying you would love to let the whole world know if they are OK with that.
 
Today, social recognition platforms exist which allows the recipient to give permission to make the acknowledgment received from others a shared experience or not.
 
The spoken and written word have mushroomed into all the various forms of messaging, social media and video chat forums.
 
Now there is no excuse not to give appreciation and recognition to one another right away.
 
We have to recognize people on the go.
 
Q: How have you applied mobile technology to give more instant recognition?

Source: "Seven Shades of Mobile" study, conducted by InsightsNow for AOL and BBDO, 2012 

Teaser: 
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2, 4, 6, 8 – Who Do We Appreciate?

School-day memories can float back into your mind at the strangest times.
 
I can remember celebratory events at school, whether academic or sports related, where a bunch of classmates would spontaneously burst into a cheerleading rendition of, “2 – 4 – 6 – 8 – Who do we appreciate?” And they would then spell out the name of the person being celebrated and loudly pronounce their name at the end. It stirred enthusiasm then and brings back pleasant memories now.
My CEO, Peter Hart, forwarded a video interview clip of Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dreamworks CEO, conducted by CNN’s Richard Quest on the Quest Means Business. It reminded me of my school recollections. Katzenberg was asked by Quest for advice for leaders of small and medium sized companies.
 
Katzenberg preceded his response by saying he only wished he had learned the advice he was about to give 25 to 30 years ago.
 
Are you ready for it?
 
He said, “I have learned to honor and celebrate, recognize and reward, your employees and their work is a fantastic business strategy.”
 
Feedback: Providing feedback to your employees they will actually thank you for, always generates a positive response which will in turn lead to great customer experiences we want everyone to have.
 
Honor: Truly honoring someone by valuing them in a meaningful way that respects their wishes communicates so much more than just a “thank you.”
 
Celebrate: Taking time out to celebrate a single employee or a group of workers for an outstanding contribution where a difference was made brings exciting feelings into the room. Celebration connotes fun and warm feelings whether it is small scale or large.
 
Recognition: Recognition is always an unexpected expression of appreciation to a person or an acknowledgement for performance achieved, whether by tangible means or not.
 
Reward: And of course, rewards are always a tangible expression for reaching certain targets or results and can be in the form of monetary or non-monetary gifts, and for the most part are anticipated or expected.
 
What a great recognition strategy – honor, celebrate, recognize and reward.
 
Q: Why do you think many of us do not learn the amazing power of honoring, celebrating, recognizing and rewarding employees until late in life?
Teaser: 
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