Recognizing People. Inspiring Greatness.
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People respond to something that costs little or nothing, and that something is called recognition. Ed Lawler
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ART FROM THE HART
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
One of my favorite websites is TED.com.
TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design.” The group started out in 1984 and has a loyal following because it organizes conferences that bring together some of the world’s brightest people who are challenged to make an outstanding presentation in 18 minutes!
Dan Pink, a lawyer by training and a former speechwriter for Al Gore is one of the bright people who accepted the TED challenge. He gave a TED talk last summer at Oxford University on “Rethinking the Ideology of Carrots and Sticks” in the workplace.
Everyone in the incentive field should watch the clip for no other reason than Dan challenges many conventional beliefs on workplace incentives. Basically, he says there is a huge mismatch between what social science has proven about extrinsic “carrot” incentives and what business practices. Dan states that carrots can hinder our abilities because we focus far too much on the incentive to the exclusion of everything else. In other words, extrinsic incentives can suppress and distort our innate intrinsic values.
Dan has a book called, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”.
Dan believes that “Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose” are key intrinsic motivation drivers. I understand where he is coming from and think Dan makes some very valid points!
We need a new paradigm that goes beyond the traditional carrot and stick approach. One that will unlock employees' intrinsic drivers and create environments that allow them to grow as individuals, because when they grow, so do our companies.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Next year will mark my fortieth year as a CEO. As you can imagine, during that time there have been many ups and downs in the business. Some that took us to new highs… others that could have ended the business.
I like to say that the only thing that has remained “constant” throughout my long business career has been “change”.
Some of these changes have been because of external factors beyond my control. For instance, there is little I or anyone else can do to change the world economy or the price of gold. However, many other changes have been driven by internal factors that are entirely within our control. For instance, taking on more space, opening a new sales office or launching a new product or program are changes that we drive.
There are two options that we can make when faced with change… we can embrace it or we can fight it. Most of us are not comfortable with change and it is not always easy to manage.
Sometimes I struggle with change too and because of this, I have kept the following quotation right in front of me.
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”
- George Bernard Shaw
Over the years Rideau has evolved. The company my folks bought in 1968 no longer exists… indeed the company my siblings and Cam Ferguson bought in 1978 no longer exists. The same thing is true for the company we were in 1982... and that of 1989… and several times since.
Many of our competitors are gone, but we are still here. Why… because rather than fighting change, we embraced it and followed the opportunities that opened because of it.
Change has transformed us from being a manufacturer of costume jewelry and promotional products and given us the opportunity to become one of the world’s leaders in customer loyalty and employee recognition programs.
But we are not resting on our laurels. More changes will come as new markets open and our solutions continue to evolve. Change dictates all of these things and never stops.
I’m proud of what we have accomplished over the years and am thankful that I’ve been surrounded by so many innovative and creative people who have not been afraid of change.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Rideau’s latest employee census puts us at 230 strong and we have a very diverse employee population.
Here are some interesting stats from our HR department:
I believe Rideau’s makeup gives us a huge competitive advantage because we have to deal with cultural diversity everyday single day. Many of our client's struggle with this diversity but often, it is in distant faraway lands. At Rideau, it’s up close and personal. I’d like to explain how we deal with cultural diversity internally but first I’d like to turn to Dr. Geert Hofstede.
Dr. Geert Hofstede is a Dutchman who has done extensive work on how the workplace is influenced by culture differences. I learned a bit about Dr. Hofstede’s work when I took Recognition Professionals International’s CRP certification courses. But I only truly started understanding his work when I read “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell. This book details the tragic flight of Korean Airlines flight 801 which crashed into a mountain side on the island of Guam. Mr. Gladwell takes us step by step through the events leading up to crash and validates the quote on Dr. Hoftede’s homepage… "Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster." In this case, 228 people lost their lives.
In a nutshell, Malcolm Gladwell details how Korean culture inhibited the co-pilot and navigator from telling the pilot what they really thought he should be doing to avert disaster. What I found fascinating was how Korean Air put Dr. Hofstede’s work to practical use after the crash to prevent the same occurrence again and improve safety. They looked for something that would act as a leveler so the crew could speak freely and not worry about longstanding cultural norms. That leveler turned out to be English. Korean Air insisted that everyone speak English in the cockpit. This took everyone out of their “Korean comfort zone” and allowed people to speak freely.
Language is one of the levelers we use at Rideau to deal with cultural diversity.
The other is recognition. Here are some of the practical things that we do…
• We recognize everyone’s service anniversary annually. It doesn’t matter if you have 4 years or 26 years of service. On a person’s actual service anniversary, regardless of the number of years, department, position, nationality, location, language or position in Rideau you can be sure quite a few people are going to reach out and congratulate you.
Recognition is our great leveler…
Respect everyone. Appreciate everyone for who they are. Recognize everyone for what they do each and every day.
The beauty about recognition is that it can be used locally, nationally and internationally.
Embrace and celebrate diversity. Use recognition to level it out.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Breakage is a term used to indicate gift cards that have been sold but never redeemed. Revenue from breakage is very profitable because companies do not provide any goods or services for the unredeemed gift cards. Breakage is also a factor in many point based programs where a company pays for points up front, however this post deals with gift cards.
Gift card breakage is huge…
TowerGroup, a financial-services research firm estimated that 10% or $8 billion of the $80 billion spent on gift cards in 2006 will never be redeemed! Consumer Reports estimates the amount is even higher! They say in 2005, 19% of people who received gift cards never used them.
Some gift card retailers have also imposed conditions on gift cards, such as expiration dates or monthly service fees that periodically reduce the value of the gift card. However, many States have passed (or plan to pass) legislation which outlaws expiry dates and fees or charges of any sort on gift cards.
How does this affect your recognition and reward program?
Well, if you hand out gift cards as a reward, realize that a significant portion of your recipients will never use them! I call this “reward breakage.” And while it’s not a good thing at least the recipient has the “value” of the gift card in his or her hands and it’s up to them whether to use it or not.
In my opinion, “recognition breakage” is much worse.
These are schemes whereby providers send out “recognition award certificates” that can be exchanged for a variety of gift cards. These “recognition award certificates” often have an expiry date attached to them… usually one year. While the law and legislation is much murkier when it comes to “recognition award certificates” one thing is clear… these providers are hoping recipients never, ever, exchange them for actual gift cards!
I find it ironic these “providers” call themselves “recognition experts” because the bottom line is they really do not want recipients to pick up their “rewards”!
We have come across several cases of companies who complain they don’t get reports from these providers. No wonder! Why would these providers want to reveal the fact that a significant portion of the “recognition award certificates” are not exchanged.
It’s called recognition breakage! Avoid it!
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
I love history because it teaches us so much. Not only about the past, but about today as well as the future… who hasn’t heard the expression, “history repeats itself?”
One very interesting document I’ve read is America’s Bill of Rights. It contained the first ten amendments to the US Constitution and was introduced by James Madison. It came into effect in 1791 and became a model for many other countries that passed bills outlining individual rights.
That got me thinking… there ought to be a Recognition Bill of Rights for the workplace.
My Recognition Bill of Rights would start out with a preamble that states all employees should be treated with respect and dignity in the workplace.
It would articulate that employees should be appreciated for who they are and what they do.
It would go on to affirm that recognition should not be left to the discretionary whims of managers.
It would declare that recognition in the workplace is a “right” for everyone in the workplace!
Monday, June 10, 2013
Over 90% of all North American companies have recognition programs. Yet 60% of all employees do not feel recognized.
These stats speak volumes and are a powerful indictment against how we have traditionally approached recognition in the workplace.
I believe most companies are way too concerned with “what” rewards they give as opposed to “why” they give them in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong. Rewards are very important. However, they must be strategically thought out. They must complement the recognition that is being given. Many times, companies will offer rewards that are inappropriate to a recognition program’s objectives.
What drives companies to include inappropriate rewards in their programs? Often, it’s simply a case of employees pressuring senior management. Program administrators should push back on “shot gun reward” requests by explaining the strategy behind their recognition strategy. Make sure that your senior management understand that their job is to explain “why” these rewards are being given in the first place.
Don’t let inappropriate rewards become your recognition program’s kiss of death!
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Yes, you read it right! But let me explain.
It’s a question of putting the “why” before the “how” in terms of the recognition paradigm.
All too often we try and train managers “how” to recognize employees before they fully understand “why” they are recognizing them in the first place!
Simply put, we must educate managers “why” recognition is important before we train them “how” to do it.
In my experience there are three broad categories of recognition education:
1. There are those managers who understand the why and “get it” completely. They make recognition a part of their daily lives.
Obviously, recognition education must be tailored to suit the needs of each group but it is CRITICAL to educate managers “why” recognition is important before you start training them “how” to do it.
I believe recognition often fails because we have trained too many managers to go through the motions without understanding the real reasons why we do it. This understanding leads to Real Recognition… a phrase my friend and colleague Roy Saunderson coined many years ago.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Recognition Professionals International's Annual Sharing Conference April 28 – May 1, 2013
Recognition Professionals International (RPI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to growing employee recognition in the workplace. The organization consists of both practitioners and providers. (Please see www.Recognition.org).
Rideau has been an active member of Recognition Professionals International (RPI) since 2001 as well as a Platinum sponsor for a number of years now, the main reason being that we really believe in the organization. Many of my colleagues have served on the Board or on the various committees. I’m proud to say that over 60 of my colleagues have become Certified Recognition Professionals (CRP), which is the largest number of CRPs from any one company.
Every year, RPI organizes a conference and many of the world’s leading recognition experts come together to share industry best practices. This year’s conference is being held in New Orleans at the Riverside Hilton from April 28th to May 1st and it is shaping up to be one of the best ever!
Two of my colleagues; Roy Saunderson and S. Max Brown from Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute are speaking in breakout sessions.
Roy’s session is taking place on Monday, April 29, 2013 from 3:30pm - 4:30pm. His topic will is “Decoupling Recognition & Rewards”. This is an important topic because all too often folks use the words “recognition” and “rewards” synonymously but they are two very different things.
Max’s session will take place on Tuesday, April 30 from 2:00pm – 3:00pm. He will be presenting with Steve Richardson who is the Manager of Recognition Programs for RBC Financial Group, a Rideau client since 1991. Their chosen topic will be on: "How Social Media Impacts Recognition Results."(maybe want to add time here as well?)
Please join me and my colleagues in New Orleans for the best recognition happening of the year!
Friday, March 22, 2013
I'd love it if someone would write the history of the recognition industry.
If they did, it would have to come from two completely different aspects.
The first, would be from the perspective of Academics and OD types who realized that recognition played a key role in a person's individual well being and collectively, to the well being of an organization.
The second would be from the perspective of companies supplying recognition and reward programs. Many of these suppliers got into the business because they were seeking an outlet for their manufactured products.
I confess that my company was no different... we were a manufacturer of emblematic jewelry and corporate award programs were a great outlet for our products.
I think there was and still is a wide gulf between the two groups and is reflected by the fact that over 90% of corporations have recognition programs yet 60% of employees don't feel recognized.
There has been far too much focus on the material and not enough on the ethereal.
Fortunately people are starting to connect the dots. People like my colleague Roy Saunderson of the Recognition Management Institute and Christophe Laval of VPHR are teaching people that recognition is about feelings and emotions.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
I believe there are two types of employees... those who I categorize as "mercenaries" and those who I call "patriots."
Which do you have?
Because the choice is entirely up to you... if you or your senior management think all your employees care about is cold hard cash you most likely will have a lot of mercenaries.
The problem with these folks is they have a bad habit of quitting the company if someone offers them more money.
Perhaps even worse, is when employee mercenaries stay with your company but disengage when they feel you don't pay them enough!
Great companies hire employee patriots who realize that employees want much more than cash. They want the opportunity to do exciting work, to feel part of a team, to develop and advance and to be recognized for who they are and what they do each and every day.
Employee patriots aren't just there for the money and they are truly committed.