Recognizing People. Inspiring Greatness.
IN THE PRESSClick here for articles
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
HR leaders should be grateful for the recent helium shortage.
Helium is the second lightest element in the universe but is running in short supply. Seems the recession has caused a slowdown in natural-gas production which in turn impacts where helium has been extracted from.
Why should HR be so happy about this?
Well, besides helium being used in cryogenics, welding, silicon wafer manufacturing and medical MRI’s, you may well know that helium is used to inflate balloons.
This means when those certain leaders who only associate recognition with HR departments arranging for party balloons, cakes and drinks, HR will now have a respite to help leaders learn what recognition is really all about.
It also means they won’t have to inhale the helium to use squeaky voices to try and get their message across that recognition should be everyone’s responsibility and not just the amazing folks in HR’s.
Hence a few liberties in correlating how helium can be like recognition:
1. Freeze recognition outcomes. Just like helium generated cryogenics HR can learn to freeze frame performance. They can show leaders how people behave when there is low recognition measures just like different matter performs differently in helium generated low temperatures.
2. Welding links with business strategy. HR must learn to link and connect how recognition programs and practices are drivers for achieving strategic initiatives. This is where HR metrics coupled with recognition output measures can be correlated with an organization’s key performance indicators to prove the link.
3. Create an MRI focus. Magnetic resonance imaging benefits from helium to help to see how things inside our bodies and brain function and discern how to treat problems. HR has a number of human capital analytic measures to determine the relationship, function and forecasting for how recognition can help business units achieve their goals.
4. Lightest element to elevate people and performance. OK, so helium truly does inflate balloons, which help lift people’s spirits. Likewise, HR should help leaders see how recognition is a great performance elevator and truly does lift people attitudes too.
And if you really want to know more about why there is a shortage on helium you can read this great article from Popular Mechanics.
Q: How do make employee recognition a leadership issue and not just dump it upon HR?
Monday, January 7, 2013
Apparently, the regular adult educated native speaker of English has been assessed to know an average of around 50,000 words. And it is very likely this number is much higher than this.1
Yet, it takes so few words from this pile in our mind to lift a person and to also improve their performance.
Thank You! Sincerely spoken or written in a note or email with a general expansion of why you’re thanking them can truly make a person’s day and even change their lives.
I appreciate you. Letting people know what it is you appreciate about them as a person, independent of their performance, without too many words really speaks volumes.
Some researchers have called praise and recognition, and especially saying “thanks”, as a “credible signal of [someone’s] kindness”.
A few words of acknowledgement seem to reach inside to our intrinsic motivation and fill up our social and esteem buckets to the brim.
Science also shows us when you give feedback on people’s performance that on average it generates a positive effect on future performance.
You won’t have to scan your brain for too many of those words in your lexicon.
Just a few good words are all it takes.
Q: What impact have you seen from expressing a few good words to others?
Friday, January 4, 2013
No matter where I have been asked to conduct a Recognition Strategy session whether in Columbus, Ohio or Mumbai, India, the end product has always been amazement at the simplicity and depth of what they just created.
What is a recognition strategy?
It is a written declaration of what the leaders in an organization believe recognition really is and means to them, and why they intend to practice it for the benefit of employees, their customers and even the shareholders.
Going into these sessions everyone involved always thinks they know what recognition is. Surprise! Not so.
What must you have to create a well-crafted Recognition Strategy? There are really three things:
#1 Must-Have: First, you have to define your Recognition Philosophy. You have to pull the philosopher’s stone out of everyone and articulate the grand answer to “why” recognition. Leaders need to determine why they are giving recognition to employees in the first place. What are your collective beliefs about recognition anyways? Why is it important to us?
Often there is a semantic battle over what constitutes recognition versus rewards and these ideas must be sorted out and put down in writing.
#2 Must-Have: Next, you have to determine your Recognition Purpose. This is all about intention and how recognition can become a way of life for everyone in your organization. What is your purpose in giving recognition to people? It is where you set clear expectations for your recognition practices as well as your programs. And it puts in writing how your recognition initiatives will help contribute to the business and to society at large.
Crafting this statement causes people to see where they have been wrong with recognition in the past and how recognition can help them strategically with their future plans.
#3 Must-Have: Finally, you need a Recognition Plan. This is where following a gap analysis and armed with your final draft Recognition Strategy statements, you prioritize where you need to focus your efforts to enhance and utilize recognition the right way. You establish the overall goal you want to achieve over a given time period and set up implementation objectives for each focus point and how you will measure their achievement.
While no battle is ever won by just having a plan, the act of planning is what leads to positive action and making recognition a powerful tool for your organization.
And should you feel you need assistance with facilitating a Recognition Strategy then please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Q: How does your Recognition Strategy help guide your recognition practices and programs?
Friday, January 4, 2013
The USA Today reported that the most influential word used in 2012 was “apocalypse”. Other doomsday words like “fiscal cliff,” “rogue nukes,” and “global warming,” were also top words and phrases according to the Global Language Monitor. Is it any wonder why people feel frayed, tired, and leery?
Which words did you use most last year? Which words were most popular in your company culture? Which words did you rely on the most as a leader?
We would be wise to be more mindful of the words we use. Indeed, even the often used “we” instead of “me” can be readily abused. Because we’ve all heard people who may say “we,” but really mean “ME.” Such language not only erodes credibility, but it also destroys trust and weakens morale.
If you find yourself raising your voice and repeating yourself often in order to get things done, perhaps it is time to ask how the words you are using could be part of the problem. Are you unconsciously destroying your effectiveness with negative words? How would things be better if you chose differently?
Which words will you choose to use most this year? Which words will you make popular in your company culture? Which words will you rely on the most as a leader this year?
Indeed, we would be wise to be more mindful of the words we use.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Are you a believer in the value of employee recognition? Or do you think it’s all just hogwash? You can’t just sit on the sidelines you know. You’re either in or you’re out.
My stand is that recognition is a powerful source for good.
Expressing appreciation for people can show them a truth they’ve probably denied or buried about themselves. By recognizing them you actually influence their feelings about them and what they will do. You influence their beliefs.
When you acknowledge someone for their actions or encourage a person to take a risk and do something important to them you are a true behaviour enhancer. You help change behaviors.
And when you positively reinforce the end outcomes reached and even reward people in some small way for the amazing results achieved you have made a difference to that person. You shape people’s results.
You can really make a big difference when you get recognition right.
Q: Where do you really stand with employee recognition?
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Do your recognition programs rock? Is the way recognition is carried out in your organization a moving and powerfully exciting experience?
Well, if not, you have a great chance with the beginning of a New Year to shake things up and make it happen.
1. Stir things up. Sometimes we need to reconfigure the way we do recognition, turn everything upside down, and start all over again. Take a look at your programs and ask what is it we need more of and what is it we need less of? Make big plans and set easy goals to reach. Make them happen!
2. Emit positive emotion. Whether how we practice recognition in the workplace or how our programs look and are experienced, we need to feel recognition. How can you use color better, enhance choice of words, nonverbally demonstrate greater feeling and positive energy around how we appreciate and recognize people? Get more strategic with recognition.
3. Instill impressive influence. You definitely need to get a meeting of the minds between the C-suite executives and the grassroots groundswell of employees. Get these two groups together talking and listening to each other and simply asking one another, “What do we need to do to get recognition right?” Don’t try to balance or debate their views, simply harmonize.
4. Get animated about recognition. If you are responsible for recognition you had better be the most excited and passionate individual for the recognition cause or you might as well quit and find a replacement. With enthusiasm and the commitment for getting recognition right, you will make 2013 the year that Recognition Rocks!
Q: How are you going to make recognition rock in your organization this year?
Thursday, December 20, 2012
OK, so you just bought a gift card for that friend you truly think a lot about.
Did you know the kind of gift card you give actually says something about the relationship you have with the recipient?
According to recent research by Erhard K. Valentin and Anthony T. Allred published in Journal of Consumer Marketing on the giving and receiving of gift cards, some gift cards are viewed just like cash while others are seen as opportunity to indulge in more personal luxuries.
Furthermore, the researchers found a disconnect between the perceived attitudes of givers and receivers towards various types of gift cards. For example, nearly half of respondents liked giving a gift card to a restaurant while only 27 percent actually wanted to receive one. Contrast this with 33 percent of respondents who wanted a department store or jewelry gift card compared with only 21 percent who would likely give one.
Differences in responses of givers versus recipients were affected by factors like the value of the gift card and even the relationship shared by the two people.
It seems people are more accepting of gift cards for more general retail stores if given by acquaintances. However, if you are a dear friend the expectation is for a more specialized or department store gift card.
There is also the factor that gift cards to more generalized stores acts just like cash. When you receive a card for a specialized store you can’t help but take more time and thought into what you will finally purchase.
Looks like the answer to what you really think about people really is in the cards.
Q: How much care and thought do you put into the gift cards you select?
Thursday, December 13, 2012
I found this great recognition insight from an amazing business leader.
Barbara Ann Corcoran is an American real estate investor and one of the Sharks on the popular ABC Shark Tank TV show. She started her own real estate company business back in 1973 with a $1000 loan. In 2001, Corcoran sold her real estate company to giant NRT Incorporated for an estimated $70 million.
You would certainly expect her to be focused on money and rewards. But she discovered that wasn’t the greatest motivator.
At the Inc.com Women’s Summit in New York in 2011 she shared powerful lessons she gained on recognition and you can watch her presentation snippet on recognition here (Gold: Video). Imagine gold ribbons and trophies being huge motivators for some of her million dollar plus sales agents.
The summary learning point I gained from her presentation was:
1. Recognition drove the sales force to think differently. We put people in pigeon holes and we cannot pretend to know what will motivate each person. So find out and give it to them!
2. You have to use recognition again and again to build people up. It is one of the many tools and practices available to each manager to boost people up and elevate work performance.
Q: What types of recognition have surprised you as being motivating to an employee?
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see
every problem as a nail." – Abraham Maslow
Some companies think of recognition programs as a hammer.
A hammer is a tool consisting of a solid head, usually of metal, which is set crosswise on a handle, and is used for driving nails into things or shaping metal, etc.
These leaders think their recognition program is going to drive results and make them profits and bend their people into shape.
When they have a problem, like poor retention or low productivity, they want to hammer away at the problem with their recognition program. They think of their pain points as just nails in a two-by-four versus an architectural design flaw.
You can repeatedly and persistently use recognition and rewards programs to reward things like attendance and never move the dial or get at the root of the problem.
With attendance issues, for example, the workplace may not be a rewarding and meaningful place to be each day; or the boss is a toxic and negative person to deal with so employees avoid him or her; or there are genuine health concerns not being acknowledged by all parties. Recognition programs can never address these multiple needs and complex issues.
But there is no doubt a recognition program is definitely a tool.
However, managers cannot treat these programs like the heavy handed, blow striking and inaccurate instrument of a hammer.
Instead, recognition programs are like a precision tool that allows managers to carry out multiple types of recognition and reward delivery while communicating the value of contributions specific to individual behaviors and achievements.
A precision tool is like a laser cutter which can be controlled very accurately and which produces very accurate results.
Precision focused recognition programs are precise in targeting what needs to be valued and honored. There are set standards of criteria that allow for the quality of exactness when designed properly. You can zero in on the quantitative outputs of performance and results as well as the qualitative factors of making a difference and doing things the right way. They are measurable so they can be repeated consistently.
Hammers can’t do that. You often end up with bent nails.
Precision tools are always spot on.
Q: How are recognition programs more like a precision tool versus a hammer?
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Here’s an interesting scientific perspective on the negative impact awards can have on winners as well as the losers of awards.
Recent research from Stephanie Henagan out of Northern Illinois University, on The Perils of Workplace Recognition: Antecedents to Discomfort Associated with Being the Target of Upward Comparisons, demonstrates there can be emotional discomfort from receiving awards by both recipients and their peers who did not merit the award.
Henagan’s findings show that award winners, who she terms as “outperformers”, who also happen to be more interpersonally attuned and empathetic, are more likely to be aware of the possible negative consequences their high performance poses on others.
She also points out the effects of perceived competiveness in the work environment and how coworkers compare themselves with an outperformer. These factors influence the experience of what is referenced in the psychological literature as comparative target discomfort.
Challenges Award Winners Face
Top performers with a genuine sensitivity to others’ feelings will try to protect their relationship with people when they are ranked as an award winner. This is also stacked against the backdrop that their own performance is being compared to by others and this may appear threatening to their peers.
This study, which was done in the sales awards arena of real estate agents, demonstrates some negative consequences individuals face when desiring to achieve the organization’s valued outcome of high performance.
In summary then:
Award Winners: Could feel embarrassed or awkward with how others feel about them outperforming their colleagues.
Award Losers: Could feel slighted or think negatively towards the winner they are being compared to.
Q: What are your thoughts on this real world study and its implications with your top awards program?