Recognizing People. Inspiring Greatness.
IN THE PRESSClick here for articles
Monday, January 28, 2013
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?
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
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?
Thursday, January 17, 2013
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.
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?
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
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?
Friday, January 11, 2013
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?
Thursday, January 10, 2013
I hated school and was a terrible student. Most of the time, I finished at the bottom of my class. There were a couple of exceptions; history and strangely enough, Latin. School certainly wasn’t fun and my report card certainly didn’t help build any self-confidence in my academic abilities!
But one thing really helped. I had always loved to read. Fiction, non-fiction, biographies, newspapers, magazines, whatever! I’d often read late into the night. When our class had current event quizzes, I always came in first. The only problem was; current events didn’t go towards our year end marks!
It was only after leaving high school that I realized my method of learning was different than others. I liked to learn by myself and for myself. Once I realized this, my confidence grew and I felt there was no subject I couldn’t master if I really wanted to.
Today, I read most of my books and magazines online. I don’t read as fast as I used to. Not because I’m getting older, but because I can highlight a word or phrase and go out into the amazing world of Google or Wikipedia to search and learn more about the place, person or thing I’m reading about. I figure it is taking me about 30% longer to read books online. But I’m not complaining, for I love to get lost in this world and to learn each and every day.
Recently, a professor friend of mine asked me if I’d be willingly to speak to his Executive MBA students one evening about Rideau and how our business has evolved over the years. It was with a bit of trepidation that I agreed to do this, mainly because of my own daunting school memories.
But what a rush! My presentation was supposed to last 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes of questions. However, the questions kept coming strong over an hour later! The energy was great and it was truly a wonderful experience. I can now understand the sense of fulfillment that so many teachers feel.
I certainly found more enjoyment in teaching than being a student in a classroom. But I guess the real lesson is that it’s all about learning. How it happens doesn’t really matter, as long as it happens!
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
One of the things I am continually hearing on the issue of employee recognition, is that managers keep forgetting to say or show appreciation to their high performing employees. The reason given is because they are always dealing with issues from low performing employees. You know, putting out fires.
The only problem is high performing employees see this. They say to themselves it doesn’t matter if you work your guts out to help the company, nobody notices. But create a problem around here and you get tons of attention. These high performers deserve to be recognized the Real Recognition™ way.
If you lose out on this principle you will also lose the war on employee retention.
What do you do?
Organizational behavior research consistently shows in any group of people there are about 15 percent who are the movers and shakers – your high performers. At the other end of the bell curve are another 15 percent who are the low performers, the rebels. In the middle are the rest of the 70 to 80 percent who are the fence sitters. Half of them are passively “against” things and tipping over the line in the other direction is the other half who is passively “for” things.
Keep this secret principle top of mind, namely to focus on your best, your top performers. By concentrating and recognizing these stars they will pull everyone on the curve up towards them. The group who is passively for will be attracted in that direction. They want the same as the top performers. You will even shift the scales on some of the fence sitters who are passively against.
You will always have a bottom 15 percent who will be working against you. Manage these people but don’t focus on them. Give them feedback and coach them but don’t give them any more time than your top performers.
You must focus on your strengths – your top performers – and you must manage your weaknesses – your poor performers.
Quick Ideas to Consider
1. Sort out the rotten apples. One rotten apple can ruin the whole barrel. Poor performers eat away at your very best people when no action is taken to correct their behaviors. They take away from the Real Recognition™ way. You probably have already seen it at places where you have worked. What happens is the best performers become less engaged and the motivation and enthusiasm starts to turn off. So catch people doing what’s right and stop people from doing what’s wrong.
2. Meet with your top performers on a regular basis. Find ways to endorse their great ideas. Find out what does turn the light on for them. You will more likely find out they want more responsibility, projects to take on, more challenging stuff and opportunities to do something innovative. Real Recognition™ does not have to be about things. It’s about people first. When you do things right you will not have to motivate your high performers - just give them permission to do and then move out of the way!
Q: What do you do to focus on your best employees without causing favoritism?
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?