Recognizing People. Inspiring Greatness.
Friday, October 11, 2013
There’s a wonderful feeling about Canadian Thanksgiving weekends and traveling to family and friends while enjoying the array of changing colors of leaves on the trees.
Sun is shining brightly through the trees and there is lot of blue sky to view and the temperature brings a slight chill in the air.
Our car trunk is full of food for the festivities and our luggage for stay-overs as we head towards our nation’s capital city.
Turkey is with us and pumpkin pie is still to come. Canned preserves of the season my wife put up are packed to give to our two adult children we’ll be visiting.
My wife cued me a few weeks ago to write in the Thanksgiving cards she had bought and mail them off to our five children and their respective family members, as applicable – even to the ones living in the States!
Lots to get ready when it’s Thanksgiving…
Yet Thanksgiving is always a time of reflection.
A time to count one’s many blessings in life.
Treasure our relationships with family members and friends.
Praise one’s God, if you are a believer, and the freedom to worship as one chooses or not to.
Truly appreciating the country we live in and the democratic government we have.
Yes, I think gratitude always precedes giving thanks, don’t you?
Q: What reflections come to mind around your country’s time of Thanksgiving?
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Perhaps I write too much about how to get recognition right.
Let’s consider the benefits and total advantages of not giving people any recognition at all. Now there’s a novel thought!
1. Time Saved from MBWA. You won’t have to get out of your office and be an observer of what people are doing or pay attention to others who talk about those great things your direct reports supposedly are doing. At last you will have time to spend on things YOU want to do.
2. No Hokey Communication Techniques. You will have no need to learn those alphabet soup acronyms to guide you on how to give meaningful recognition or learn their special language of appreciation, nor waste time practicing verbal and non-verbal communication techniques in front of your mirror each day.
3. Budget Spend Reduced. Think of the money you will save by not having to buy any more Thank You Cards, printed notes, postage, fancy awards, nice gifts, point budget allocations, or career service awards – tell your boss how much you have saved on recognition and see what they think of you!
4. Less Inbox Messages. No more reminders of someone’s service anniversary, birthday or imminent retirement. And just think, no more emails flooding your inbox with those mushy comments back to you for praising them about one thing or another. Phew!
5. Freedom from Relationships. The ultimate freedom is not having any one to talk to, not having to know about what goes on in their lives, or be bothered hearing about their spouses, partners, children and personal interests. Nothing is more draining than building relationships with people.
6. Total Self-Absorption. Now you won’t have to think of a single co-worker, direct report or manager ever again. You can now just stay focused on the job task at hand and forget all about people. What’s that? The boss wants to see you? Oh, just forget about them!
7. Brain Capacity Enhanced. Your brain cells will no longer be deplete as rapidly because of not memorizing people’s names and what they contributed to the organization. You will be able to learn a foreign language or perhaps even a new career according to your boss’s last voice mail message.
8. No Recognition of Me?? You will be removed from any people manager position. Those you see in the hallways passing to your office will scorn you and give you dirty looks. No one will sit with you in the cafeteria. Your phone will never ring except for repeated calls to meet with HR.
9. Extra Time to Do What You Want. You may have a new job quicker than you think if you keep up these amazing skills of not praising a single soul or giving anyone recognition they think they deserve, and not rewarding people just because they achieved something or other. You can start a whole new dream career simply by not giving people recognition.
10. Become An Overnight Expert. With all your new found time available to you by losing that old job, imagine the speaking opportunities and book contracts you will receive on your incredible expertize of not giving recognition to people. All you need is 10,000 hours in this new skill area to be considered an expert. Go for it!??
I am going to stick with helping people to get recognition right. Let me know if you try this new angle out and how it goes.
Q: If people don’t recognize others what advantages are motivating them not to change?
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
I can remember it like yesterday.
I was working with an insurance organization in mid-Western Canada. They were struggling with getting their managers to consistently give meaningful and positive feedback to employees. We came in to assess their current recognition initiatives and provide some needed education on the why and how of recognition giving. This was over a period of several days.
It was when I was in the analysis stage that I came across these wonderful, well written policies and procedures that spelled out exactly what was permitted for employee recognition by any manager within the organization. Expectations for recognition, monetary range allowed to be spent, guidelines for what was permissible, and, of course, tax implications.
The majority of managers had absolutely no knowledge the policy existed. And without knowing the policy you can guess what happened in this organization.
No - or very little - recognition.
With the blessing of senior leaders who brought us in I gave managers permission to go and give people authentic appreciation, which I call “real recognition”. The employees were starving for acknowledgment.
So we showed managers the beliefs, behaviors and skills they needed to change mindsets and get out and give people the recognition they deserved.
Senior managers reported on seeing increased frequency and better quality of recognition by managers in their departments following the education. Transfer of learning indicators showed greater awareness of the importance of recognition. And months after the learning sessions managers clearly perceived improvement in their recognition skills and abilities.
The policy was there all along. And no one knew.
Recognition giving improved only when people improved giving recognition.
People make recognition happen…not policies.
Q: How does bureaucracy and paperwork get in the way of meaningful recognition for you?
Monday, October 7, 2013
Sometimes we think everything revolves around us.
Back in the 1600’s, noted physicist and astronomer, Galileo Galilei, was found "vehemently suspect of heresy” for saying the Sun lies motionless at the center of the universe, and that the Earth is not at the center and in fact moves around the sun.
Amazing what a few years has done to give everyone on earth the same knowledge on what the real center of the universe is.
But what about recognition? Does it have a center? Are there heretics today who claim one view over another?
Let me take out a telescope and help you to focus on the center of the recognition universe.
For many years employee recognition emerged from ribbons and medals in the battle fields to service awards in corporations. Next, came the focus on incentive pay, emblematic jewelry, awards and trophies, right down to today with giving of redeemable points, lifestyle award items and gift cards. These evidently come from a Transactional Center of “if you do this then you will get that”.
Behavioral scientists evolving from Pavlov and his dog, to Frederick Taylor’s scientific management, to the classic conditioning of B.H. Skinner, also saw the universe as very Transactional. It tends to be more rewards driven than pure recognition.
Recognition is a tit for tat, mechanical, and more often than not, a non-emotional and programmatic task rather than a natural practice.
A shift in the telescope occurred in searching human behavior starting with Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, Edward Deci with intrinsic motivation, and the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, and then the recent compilation of studies in Daniel Pink’s book “Drive” examining autonomy, mastery and purpose.
I like to consider this type of thinking about recognition as the Relational Center which is more focused on relationships and making a difference and may nicely couple rewards with authentic recognition.
Recognition from this center is more meaningful and felt but may not be consistently practiced across an organization by all people and can still be somewhat programmatic.
Finally, I have seen a core center evident in successful organizations that get recognition right – and that is the Ideological Center. This ideological center is founded on philosophy and purpose around what recognition means and why it is being done in the first place. It has vibrant beliefs and a living, breathing culture that infuses positive actions and instills enthusiasm in people to reach out and care for others.
Beliefs create the attitude of gratitude that lead to positive behaviours of recognition and lead to appropriate use of rewards when needed too.
Recognition in this sphere of thinking is truly a way of life for everyone collectively.
The far reaching universe of the Transactional Center certainly helps reinforce and reward results but sometimes causes problems by allowing questionable methods in achieving those results.
From the Relational Center we can encourage people and appreciate people for who they are and recognize them for what they do which truly impacts behaviors. But this center rarely enlists everyone in giving recognition.
Only by drawing upon an Ideological Center can we ever show people the truth about the worth of people and then influence their feelings by showing them a truth which will changes people for life and not just a day.
These are strictly my opinions and I hope they are not too heretical for you!
Q: Which “center” drives the recognition universe where you work?
Monday, September 30, 2013
Do you, like me, see companies making the mistake of letting recognition function in isolation of everything else going on?
* Recognition becomes a checklist.
* It operates in a silo.
* Programmatic tools are disconnected from strategic initiatives.
* Even practices become a program instead of a way of life.
* Rarely do people think of recognition in context of appreciating people and what they do.
* Education, marketing, communications, operations, distribution, just aren’t thinking employee recognition…that’s HR’s job, isn’t it?
* Ritual practices obscure real practices.
Here are simple ways to better integrate recognition in-to-great recognition:
1. Unite recognition so you can stand strong. When you are united with your recognition strategy – your purpose and meaning around recognition – you will never fall. An organization needs to unite all programs and practices under one philosophical banner so everyone knows the WHY of recognition and the reason for doing it in the first place. Then the “what” and “how” of recognition while secondary will come more naturally.
2. Desegregate recognition practices and programs. Companies will have various business units with rogue programs operating that head office does not know a lot about, how much is spent, the criteria used, or how effective they really are. It is best to combine all recognition programs into one unified system. You can also unify an organization by having a few specific, cultural practices that almost everyone demonstrates which shows people they are respected and value one another at all levels.
3. Incorporate recognition into every aspect of worklife. Get onboarding going with giving thank you cards out to all new hires with expectation to GIVE recognition and thank someone who has helped them and versus expecting to receive it. Start every meeting with recognition so it sets the tone and feel for the meeting and doesn’t get bumped off the agenda. Start your day with a gratitude email to someone and end it with a thank you email for gestures and actions you’ve benefited from.
4. Make recognition whole-istic and not separate. Think about everyone, every facet of the organization, role and function. Now, stop and think very quickly how recognition can be included and integrated into absolutely everything. Fresh flowers on the receptionist’s desks; branded and fun PostIt® notes designed to give informal messages to people; positive posters in various locations changed regularly; a favorite and acceptable food treat shared weekly or monthly; stopping to celebrate small wins and completed projects.
When you stop and think about it, recognition can be integrated into absolutely everything you and I do at work.
Q: What’s your most favorite way you have seen recognition integrated into work?
Friday, September 27, 2013
When flying have you ever checked to make sure your life vest is really under your seat?
I boarded several planes over the last few days. I was almost lulled into dozing off during the repeated flight attendant instructions on safety precautions before taking off. Even when crossing lots of dry land underneath, I heard those familiar steps about how to wear, tighten and inflate my life vest if we made a water landing.
Did you know there are some interesting people in this world who take those life vests as souvenirs? Mind you, it’s a punishable offense to do so, so don’t get any ideas!
That’s why airlines check for them at the beginning of each day. But with all those multiple trips during a day someone could still snitch one.
I never looked for mine.
When you are at work have you ever checked to see if your recognition programs are still on your web portal?
Corporations send out nicely choreographed messaging from communications and marketing folks informing people about the new and improved recognition programs. There may even be some great and clever online demonstration videos on how to use your programs the right in way in case someone actually merits recognition.
Did you know there are some people who have never visited your recognition web page to recognize someone? It is a wasted opportunity not to acknowledge a colleague for who they are becoming and what they do. People may even take offense for the lack of appreciation. Which is why, at the beginning of every day, you should visit your recognition website. After all, with the multiple meetings, activities and people interactions you might lose out on using your programs.
Visiting and using your recognition tools on a regular basis allows you to practice giving more meaningful and effective acknowledgement of the people you work and associate with.
Just pull the cord to inflate and give your recognition programs an uplift by making them more visible and using them more often.
Q: Are you making the most of your existing recognition programs or are they hidden somewhere?
Thursday, September 19, 2013
What will meaningful and effective employee recognition do for YOU?
When we express recognition and appreciation to others it generally makes recipients feel pretty special. In fact, many will acknowledge a positive emotional response as a result of your words or actions.
Scientific research has confirmed that people who think on or receive expressions of appreciation and recognition actually display more regular and healthier heart rhythm than those who don’t.
By making time to give positive feedback to a friend or colleague you are making a stronger relationship between you and the other person.
You have just connected with someone.
Maybe we need to look at recognition and appreciation giving as truly connecting with one another.
Have you seen when you praise someone how their eyes light up? They almost twinkle. And did you see the smile on their face because you noticed what they’ve been doing and you said something? That’s worth the price of admission right there. Then, what about the energy surge in their body language and the excitement in their voice as they share more about what they’ve been doing?
You have just tapped into someone’s passion.
Passion can seem so much more elusive than engagement. Do we even know what everyone we work with is passionate about?
This wonderful sharing of gratitude for the wonderful things people are doing, and acknowledging and appreciating people simply for who they are and becoming, has got to be one of the greatest things each of us can do each and every day…even each and every hour of the day.
And what happens when we act on and talk about these great things?
Well…because we truly connected with a person and shone a light on their passion they feel empowered, enlightened and engaged to perform with excellence. They show greater positive, pro-social behaviors towards others because someone thanked them. Even productivity measures increase. It’s amazing what can happen from giving authentic, Real Recognition.
I will simplify and shorten what I just wrote down a little bit. When people feel good they do good.
Now here’s the side benefit for giving recognition well…when you do good, you too will feel good. And I guess that means you will be a better connected person, more passionate about what you do best, and performing to your highest potential.
Giving recognition well even makes a difference to you…the giver of recognition.
Go out right now and make recognition happen today and every day.
Q: What have you observed as the benefits from giving recognition well?
Monday, September 16, 2013
Stop using cookie cutters for rewards and recognition programs, please!!
The only time I take cookie cutters out of the cupboard is when my wife and I are making shortbread cookies at Christmas time. They help make a consistently shaped product that everyone loves to see as well as eat.
Cookie cutter approaches to recognition, however, just don’t cut it (if you’ll pardon the inevitable pun).
Take the following scenario as an example that came to me from a friend of mine, Tommy Lee Hayes-Brown, just this past week.
Context: Three different call centers located in a West coast suburb, a mid-West rural community, and an East coast urban center.
Employees: Diverse staffing make-up each location with one center consisting of primarily part-time house wives, another staffed with undergrad students and temporary workers, and the last filled with professionals and retirees.
Boss: Big boss who thinks he understands everything about employee recognition but really doesn’t. He has a poor understanding of human motivation and doesn’t have a clue about the unique preferences of his employees.
Situation: A performance contest was created across all call centers for employees.
Decision: Based only on the Boss’s personal motivations he decides to give all contest winners at each location a mountain bike. You see, the Boss, is an avid mountain biker.
Problem: One size does NOT fit all. Part-time house wives working a call center have little time for mountain biking. Undergrad students and temp workers likely have other interests. Only a few retirees and professionals may be passionate about mountain biking. No one from an urban center will likely be motivated from winning a bike. Mid-West folks won’t find it appealing because they live on flat terrain and we don’t know how far away the hills and mountains are from those working in the West coast suburbs.
Solution: My friend, who managed the call centers, saved the day, the boss and the employees.
He talked his boss out of the cookie cutter mode of thinking he was stuck in. Instead, my friend empowered the supervisors at each location to choose an incentive that would really motivate and incentivize the employees to perform at their very best.
My friend, Tommy Lee, gets it!
Here’s what I see that my friend did to save the day:
1. He realized what motivates one person to perform will likely not be the same for another. Get to know your people better or ask those who do know them best to find out what makes them tick so you know their motivations.
2. He had learned that employees will always perform to the degree they know you really care about them and not about yourself. Authenticity has a way of shining through bright and clear simply by your actions and words.
3. He knew that just because you wear a medium size shirt like the other person doesn’t mean they will like the same color as you do. Personalize the recognition to their individual preferences and you will always win!
Q: How do you stay clear of cookie cutter approaches to employee recognition?
Monday, September 9, 2013
I think we all have fears of one kind or another.
Heights, Water, Spiders, Public Speaking. Even bosses?
For example, some people are quite intimidated about expressing appreciation or giving recognition to another individual.
I remember one vice president I reported to at a hospital where I worked as a departmental director. This individual went out of their way to support me in a meeting I was at which was very influential in ensuring an action I felt was important was carried out. I made the courtesy acknowledgment to them at the end of the meeting.
But I felt I should send a thank you card as well.
How would this leader respond to my proposed action? What would my peers think if they found out? Would this be perceived as trying to get brownie points form my VP? Were my spoken words sufficient?
One strategy for dealing with such fears or negative perceptions is to predetermine the worst case scenario and do some advanced negative preparation. What about answering each of those questions in turn?
That’s what I did.
I had absolutely no idea what my VP’s reaction would be. But that wasn’t really the point. I was the one feeling grateful for what they did. I was the one thinking I should put my feelings in writing.
As for my peers – so what? This was an interaction between 2 people and not in front of a crowd. If someone found out, so be it. Why should I be affected by other people’s perceptions?
As for brownie points – my credibility was already established and I was known for my integrity. Cross that off the list – no matter what others might think.
Redundant expression? This was a good point in that I had already said thanks. But those words seemed so trite, quick and fleeting in view of the significance of my VP’s actions. I knew they did not realize the difference their actions had made to me. That warranted some follow up words.
And that is exactly what I did. I wrote my thank you note explaining the impact of their support in the meeting. Not only was my VP grateful for the card but that note stayed on their desk for many weeks afterwards.
My recommendation is to practice the fine art and science of giving praise and appreciation each and every day. Make the commitment, and it will become easier
Question: How do you overcome any anxiety or trepidation in giving praise or recognition to others?
Published by::Incentive magazine
Budgets for rewards and recognition programs are frequently based upon benchmarking research from professional firms or associations.