Giving Great Recognition to Groups and Teams

Many people ask if there is a right way to provide recognition to your groups or teams.
Some of the issues that crop up and cause people to question things are:
* What if one person doesn’t pull their weight on a group project? What do you do then?
* Should you never single out individual performance from teams and only give group recognition?
* Is there a best way to recognize a group of employees?
With tough questions like these it is always good to draw upon principles of behavior to help answer them.
Let’s examine each of these issues and see what recognition principles we can apply to them.
Principle of Equity
The main reason for the concern when someone isn’t pulling their weight comes because of discrepancies in the performance of one or more individuals.
People don’t like to see everyone receiving an award or acknowledgement for something when one or more people didn’t perform well or contribute at all.
For the most part this equity concern is a management issue of not dealing with poor performance in the first place. Poor performers should not be on the team. Period!
This can be done through setting clear expectations, listening, providing skills and resources, following up on actions taken, giving feedback and ongoing praise and of course, coaching and redirection. It also means dealing directly with any negativity right away and identifying performance gaps right away.
In fact a good team should be made up only of competent players. This should prevent a majority of the problems associated with team member being seen as “unworthy” of recognition.
Principle of Worth
Is it wrong to single someone out in a team? No it is not wrong. It is only incorrect if you put someone down in front of others.
Acknowledging them and expressing appreciation for their work is never wrong. Remember most of us desire receiving some form of recognition for our contributions. What is important is to respect individual wishes for private or public types of recognition.
More often than not there will be the undisputed Most Valuable Player (MVP) in team sports. When it is clearly observed that one team player contributed significantly to the goal, recognize that individual for why they shine.
Invite the star players on the team to assist in bringing others up the ladder.
At the same time, acknowledge the rest of the team for their overall success. Be specific, include everyone’s name, and tell each of them how they all made a difference. This principle often gets missed in the universal and global “well done.”
Share the wealth and spread the stories of what your teams are collectively doing right.
The key principle here is to be constantly looking for every individual performance that warrants praise and to give it on an ongoing basis. Make time to get to know all team members.
Philosophy Principle
Remember the Gestalt psychology principle of “the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?”
Team or group recognition should always exceed that of the individual(s) who shine(s). Using the sports analogy further, the team wins the cup or pennant and then they acknowledge the MVPs. The group is still greater than the individual. That principle has to be top of mind.
It’s important to have clear measurable performance indicators to show why someone truly contributed the most. This can range from sales performance and other business results analogous to homeruns and goals. Measurable results help eliminate disputes over who the “star” players really are.
From a qualitative perspective team members may even let you know who made the most difference on a project or goal.
Remember it is individuals who make up a team.
Get Recognition Right Principle:
When there is a requirement or expectation for group recognition, give both group and individual recognition. Focus on the group first and individuals second. Provide ongoing performance feedback to prevent non-performers and the perceived recognition inequity.
Q: How do you deal with equity concerns around team recognition?


When You're In The Room, Be In The Room

As I wrote this title down the wisdom of the statement struck me again: “when you’re in the room, be in the room”.
I remember the first time I heard that line spoken by professional speaker and author, Barry Spilchuk, as he shared a personal experience with an audience. The words probably hit me then because I wasn’t being fully present with my own family at the time. I went home and began to be more fully present, no matter which room I was in.

This was before I got into the field of employee recognition.

Since then I have found that authentic recognition is demonstrated when givers show genuine excitement and enthusiasm towards the recipient. They make a big deal out of people’s achievements. Recognizers must learn to give their complete attention to the person and celebrate all they have done.

Leadership consultant, John Baldoni, titled a leadership article with "never act like the smartest guy in the room."

This means you have to be more than fully present in the room you have to leave yourself and your ego outside.

And, you had better put away and turn off any and all electronic devices or phones. If the person you are about to recognize is as important as you claim they are, leave everything else behind.

Giving genuine recognition to someone is all about them – the recipient of appreciation and acknowledgement. They are center stage and become the star of the event and you are relegated to the emcee position for a reason. It is not about you. 

Recognition giving is an intense time of focusing emotion and expression towards honoring someone.

Your act of giving recognition is certainly a polished performance.

But it is all always about them – someone else.

When the words have been said and the awards or gifts given, and now everyone is gone, you will be alone in the room.

And if you have been effective with appreciating people well, as you stand there you will feel the room echo back the feelings which flooded the recognition experience that day.

You will have made a powerful and personal contribution in someone’s life.

All you had to do was be in the room.

Q: What do you do to be fully present when giving people recognition?


Remembering…Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance Day.
November 11th is observed in Commonwealth countries around the world as Remembrance Day ever since World War 1 ended. It reflects the official ending of hostilities in 1918 with the signing of the Armistice “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”
We honor those who defended freedom during this war.
Each year I wear a red poppy on my suits during this month to remember those who died in the line of duty. A symbol of a simple flower that bloomed everywhere in the Flanders Fields of Belgium, where some of the bloodiest battles were fought and many soldiers lost their lives.
My grandfather, Charles Henry Weller, survived the war but never talked about his time of serving in World War I. I don’t think many did back then. But I possess 3 medals he received, as then, Private Charles Henry Weller, of the British Royal Fusiliers. These are the British campaign medals known as the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. These medals were known by their nickname back then as “Pip, Squeak and Wilfred”. The Victory medal has embossed on its back “the great War for Civilization”. We have not learned much since then.
In visiting England one year I found a plaque at the Leatherhead Methodist Church that honored several people who died from my home town, including my grandfather’s sister, Ada Elizabeth Weller. It reads simply, “In honoured memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice in the great War…their name liveth evermore.” My great Aunt Ada died upon returning home from the First World War. possibly from the influenza pandemic that claimed many back then.

All I possess that helps me to “remember” are these medals and the brief memories of visits to my grandfather many times before he died at the age of 84 when I became a teenager.
Let us never forget.
Q: What keepsakes do you have that bring back memories of those who have gone before you?

9 Essential Recognition Practices You Can Embed Into Your Work Today

Recognition giving needs to be woven into everything we do at work whether that is in the office, in your next meeting, or simply in how you handle different work situations. Here are 9 top of mind suggestions for embedding recognition into your everyday work life with little or no effort or cost.

1. Glad Greetings. Too many employees report poor hallway and elevator interactions where managers and peers never address them by name. Pretty easy to personalize your greetings by using a person’s preferred name and speaking the usual pleasantries. It is a little thing that means people are valued.
2. Forgotten Courtesies. We’re getting sloppy in not remembering our “please and thank yous” our mothers taught us. Be more mindful of respect and courtesy when interacting with people. Don’t let that door slam on the person behind you –linger the few extra seconds it takes to hold it open and smile.
3. Compassionate Kindness. Go beyond courtesy and focus more on thinking about others. It means getting to know the people we work with and learning about their lives and circumstances. Then it is being open and vulnerable to helping wherever we can and serving them with genuine actions of kindness.
4. Email Etiquette. Have you noticed how one’s name often disappears from the body of emails you receive? Put people’s names back in and ensure you are expressing thanks for actions they have rendered on your behalf and giving them sincere appreciation for any help given.
5. Gracious Gratitude. Shawn Achor, and his work on “happiness”, suggests starting each day by thinking thoughts of gratitude. He goes even further by recommending that the first email you send out each day should be a note of gratitude to someone acknowledging their positive attributes and contributions.
6. Meeting Moments. Don’t let a meeting go by without planning in some recognition, acknowledgement or even celebrating something personal or work achievement. Go so far as to begin all of your meetings with an act of recognition so it doesn’t get eliminated if at the end. This will also make a positive impact on the tone of the meeting.
7. Engaging Education. When sending someone to receive valuable professional development, whether internally or externally, thank them before they go. Tell them they’re being sent to acknowledge the great work they’ve done to date and that you’re expecting great things from them following the learning and development session.
8. Connecting Communication. From 1:1 feedback sessions, to group discussions where you ask employees “what do you think?” draw upon the social features of social media and engage one another more in informal communications. Make time each day to really connect with people and to praise them.
9. Phone Praise. One manager told me how she repeatedly plays and resaves a voicemail message of commendation from her regional manager. She received this months ago. However, its value remains so powerful she cannot erase it. Don’t do this too often, but leave your message after work or before the start of the next day.
These and many other simple actions done on a regular basis can truly show your employees you really care and value their contributions made at work, and acknowledge all they are becoming as individuals in life and at work.
Q: What are some of the recognition practices you incorporate into your daily work life?


How to Create a Great Recognition Program You’ll Be Proud Of

Pride in something, or any object or item, comes from the satisfaction or pleasure taken in the success, achievement or meaningful interaction with the item concerned.
In this case, we are speaking of recognition programs. Having pride in your recognition programs requires everyone familiar with them in having a wonderful experience every time they interact with it, whether employees, managers or administrators.
Perhaps instilling pride in any recognition program can be like coming into a warm and cozy home for a delicious meal with good friends.

Welcome Invitation
Think of a “welcome” mat outside a door way entrance or the invitation extended for you to come to a friend’s house for dinner. And it is leaving the lights on to ensure you see the address when they’re arriving.
There also needs to be a welcome sign and an open doorway into your recognition web portal. Through URL linked invitations via emails or catchy graphics on the website front page, invite employees to connect through the recognition website. Highlight the entrance and make it engaging and appealing.
People need to be invited in and then made to feel welcome.

Guided Tour
When you visit someone’s home for the first time it is typical for the host to give you a quick tour of their place to admire their home and learn where certain rooms are…in case you might need any of them!
Recognition sites need a video guided tour or a learning module fulfilling the same role of showing you around each feature of the website. Have very clear, self-explanatory website tabs, captivating pictures and great headlines, a moving story of recognition and social media feeds of gratitude and recognition.
Show people where everything is and help them feel comfortable.

At Home
After being welcomed in and shown around, your host will likely invite you to make yourself at home. You might simply sit down or you’ll wander around and admire the various items on display in the house. If you’re adventurous you may even pick up something or make comments about items on display.
With your recognition programs they need to be beautiful, engaging and inspire ongoing experimentation. Make communications and branding such that people want to explore the site further, add comments, and use the various behavioral, performance, service and social recognition programs available.
Let people explore and interact with your programs.

Appetizers & Entrées
Those small nibbles of food or drink served before or at the beginning of a meal are to help stimulate the desire to eat, or go right into the main course. Appetizers and entrées are a point of entry to the evening’s festivities, indulging in the food made by the host, or catered to, will be a feast of new beginnings.
Your recognition programs should give small food for thought on how you can engage peers, employees and managers in the total recognition experience. Recognition is a felt phenomenon and recognition programs must be seen as tools to help each of us practice better recognition giving.
Have people experience a taste of recognition and get ready for more.

Main Course
The main course is the featured meal of the various courses served and usually the heaviest, heartiest or most complex meal item. Everything has been leading up to this scrumptious offering.
Likewise you will likely have a main recognition program, your branded flagship focusing everyone on the program that people will gravitate to and help with make recognition a unique and special experience in your organization.
Make your main recognition program a real standout.

Just Desserts
The conclusion of any meal is dessert that indulgence in something sweet. While other items may also be served such as fruits and cheeses the thought of something sweet is truly the icing on the cake of any meal.
For recognition to be like a dessert it is the captured memories and shared experiences of celebration events via photographs, the highlighted stories of acknowledgment from people, examples of achievements reached by individuals or groups.
Savor the sweet recollections of recognition given and received.

Hopefully this culinary analogy will inspire you to look at what is really cooking with your recognition programs.
Q: What main course meal item would you describe your core recognition program to be like?


Receiving is Giving

When I receive your expression of recognition you give me so much.
You give me the chance to reflect on what I am doing.
You let me see that I am making a difference.
You show me there are people who notice the actions of others.
You give me a special feeling inside that I like.
You cause me to stop and smile.
When I receive your gesture of thanks you give me something I can never forget.

Don’t Forget to Communicate Recognition Every Day

Recognition is not an annual event, a quarterly nomination, a monthly happening, or even a weekly check off item.
For recognition to be authentic it has to occur on a daily basis and become a way of life for you.
And this means you have to communicate about recognition every single day.
Like these ideas…
* Capture great examples of quality service in your organization and share those stories on your intranet website. If you can’t be technology driven then tell these stories in pre-shift meetings.
* Have the CEO or recognition champion record a short video about the value of people and importance of giving recognition and place it on your website and email the link for people to view.
* Celebrate the performance achievements of colleagues by stopping work to honor them as they prefer. Post it up on the online or on-the-wall bulletin boards.
* Start each day by sending out an email to one employee and expressing your gratitude to them for positive attributes they display.
* Have award winners’ names, whether for performance or service recognition, identified and on display on LCD TV screens throughout the company.
* Ice a cake with an uplifting icing message praising someone who went the extra mile and share the treat with them and their peers.
* Insert rotating display of motivating and encouraging quotations which change daily on your online recognition portal.
* Drop by a colleague to acknowledge them for their contributions on their non-milestone service anniversary. Make sure to tell them how they are making a difference.
* Never let meetings get further than 5-minutes in without telling someone how special they are for what they have done that week. Sets the tone for the meeting and it makes sure positive feedback is never neglected.
* Design posters and have employees join in on the creativity and craft messaging on the importance of appreciating people and recognizing what they do.
* Send in photographs to communications department of your people doing the cool things that make them special along with their contributions.
* Use cafeteria and meeting places to have tent cards communicate branded messaging of your recognition practices and programs.
* Leave a voice mail messages at the end of the day on a colleague’s phone to thank them for something they did that day that stood out for you.
Remember, you can never not communicate. Make sure to always communicate about giving recognition every day.
Q: How would recognition improve where you work if there were various forms of communication about it?


Thank Goodness for (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

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?

10 Incredible Advantages to NOT Giving Recognition to People

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?


Policies Do Not Make Recognition Happen…People Do!

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.
One problem.
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?

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