Mahalo to Everyone

Last week I heard thank you expressed so many times without ever hearing the words “Thank You!”
Confused? I understand.
My wife and I have just come back from vacation to the island of O’ahu in Hawaii where we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary.
Everywhere we went we heard two words consistently and sincerely spoken to us each day we were there.
The first was the famous “Aloha”. This typical island greeting or farewell comes from the Hawaiian terms “Alo” meaning presence, front, or face, plus “ha” meaning breath of life, and together means “The presence of (Divine) Breath.” When you know this you can understand why the native Hawaiians desire to greet you in such a sacred way. It is much more than a simple greeting.
And the second word we heard spoken from everyone was “Mahalo”. This is generally used to express gratitude and thanks. That’s what I meant when I said we heard thank you without those specific words ever spoken. Hawaiians have always been known to be a generous and grateful people and say this all the time as you leave, as they have served you, or how you have served them.
I love linguistics and where words come from. When you dissect the word mahalo from its origins you will recognize the same meanings from aloha. In this case, “Ma” means “in”, combined with “ha” which you know means “breath” and of course “alo” referring to presence, front or face.
With our English speaking interpretation our new Hawaiian friends were really saying “May you be in (Divine) Breath”. No wonder the frequency of using this term and the smiles that accompanied it were so authentic. They were actually blessing us.
They literally breathe these words upon you as a special act rather than saying trite words.
Perhaps we have lost putting meaning into the spoken words, “thank you”. I think we need to breathe new life into them.
Q: When you express thanks to people is it heartfelt or routinely said?

I Hope You Know How Much I Appreciate You




I have truly heard those exact words, "I hope you know how much I appreciate you."

After an interminable absence of ever hearing any expressed appreciation, a manager is somehow triggered to finally come by your office and then prefaces their saying “thanks” with those not so reassuring words.

Do you really believe them?

Some managers think suddenly making an appearance to give their infrequent acknowledgment is all it takes to keep you loyal and engaged.

Please beware of anyone who prefaces their statements of appreciation. And be sensitive yourself to the choice of words you use when giving recognition to people.

Those who work with us desire to feel valued and appreciated for their contributions.

They trust that you will be the kind of caring person to regularly and consistently acknowledge them for their personal qualities and all that they do.

Don’t let them guess, assume, or even hope to know.

If you really appreciate them they would already know.

Q: Do the people you work with already know you appreciate them?



Top 10 Tips for Recognition Giving

New York
May 2014
Published by:: 
Incentive magazine
When was the last time you took time out to learn some people skills?

EVERYDAY is Employee Appreciation Day

I know the logic behind having a designated day for celebrating mothers, fathers, grandchildren, cats and dogs, and so forth. Today happens to be Employee Appreciation Day.

Remembrance causes reflection – that should be good. Awareness hopefully brings change – and surely we need that.

There will be studies out there that say 39 percent of employees don’t receive any appreciation at work. We’ve found examples within client company where only a third of the workforce actually DID receive recognition for their contributions.

No matter the statistical spectrum, any number that gets into double digits of how people do not feel respected, valued and appreciated is wrong.

Unfortunately, with so many employees claiming not being recognized on a regular basis, having a day on the calendar is just a cynical reflection of their daily reality.

I am not going to give you a quick fix for this problem because there isn’t one. I am not going to rhyme off a numerical list that magically will save the day either.

But I am going to give you some sound advice because I do want to help you if you struggle in this area.

Learn to appreciate yourself first. One of the biggest reasons holding people back from appreciating others is not valuing themselves first. Stop and look at what you are doing in a day. Have some pride in what you’ve accomplished. If you see life negatively try honestly to reframe your thoughts and dig for one good thing you’ve done every day. Embrace it and accept it.

Become more observant of good things around you. Whether you see this as developing an attitude of gratitude or becoming a detective searching out everyone doing great things around you – be on the lookout for the positive actions of others. If you’re on the phone a lot or working remotely pick up on how people are helping you and others. Take it in and treasure these observations.

Open your mouth and heart and say something positive. With all these wonderful things you’ve seen – open your mouth. Take the challenge to express appreciation for all that people are and all they do. There are endless opportunities to express appreciation to others face-to-face, on the phone or via written form of emails, notes, texts or social media. Let your expressions burst out of you and learn to feel good doing so.

Don’t make employee appreciation a day. Make it a life experience.

Q: How do you maintain remembering to value people and regularly acknowledge their contributions?


It’s Definitely About Being Nominated



On Oscar night 2014, Piers Morgan of CNN asked Amy Adams, nominee for Best Actress Award with her role in “American Hustle”, “Do you think about winning or is it about being nominated?”

Read carefully what Amy’s response was to Piers Morgan.

“It’s definitely about being nominated. The actresses that I am alongside this year have been people that I have admired for so long…it is such an honor to be included among them.”

Now here are the leading ladies that Amy was cast with for potentially winning the Oscar Best Actress Award: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena) and Meryl Streep (August Osage County). An impressive group of amazing actresses if there was ever was one.

Which has me questioning how we’re really doing with corporate award programs.  Are we making the nominations of employees for an award as or more important than winning them? Hmmm! I have my doubts.

Imagine being alongside fellow employees from across your company who you should respect and admire. Do you even know one another and how and what each of you contributes to the organization?

Can we as awards’ event leaders stop and orchestrate the nomination process better? Think about how to make submitting the nominations, the publicizing, the judging process, and even the presentation of the nominees ahead of awards events, special and more meaningful.

Now what can you do to make your award nominees feel it to be an honor to be included with the likes of the list of nominated peers apart from winning?

I think the Oscars are about celebrating incredible acting skills and learning from one’s peers.

No wonder being nominated for an Oscar is considered as important as winning one.

Q: How will you make being a nominee of your formal awards an Oscar-like experience?


Distracted Manager Fines Set to Double??

Did you hear the news?

In the grand province of Ontario, Canada, where I live, they’re almost doubling the fines associated with distracted driving. It’s going up from $155 to $280. This all starts March 18th.

Sounds like a great idea for the workplace too. Imagine, if you were fined…one way or another… for distracted managing behaviors?

Distracted Managing Behaviors

Here are the rules: When communicating with an employee and intending to demonstrate Appreciative Listening® skills, managers should not let the display screen of a phone, computer, or tablet computer be visible or disruptive to either the manager or an employee. Same goes with removing whatever printed or tangible type of work you are involved in when approached by, or initiating a conversation with, an employee.

Sure…explain to an employee you are just saving, finishing up, or putting some kind of marker in place with the work you’re doing at hand. That`s understandable. No one should expect an immediate dropping of everything and instant manager attention. That`s not realistic.

Employee Value Perception

But we all have an internal threshold timer ticking away and evaluating each interaction we make.

The longer it takes for a manager to demonstrate eye contact, acknowledge the employee verbally, or show signs of closure from the work at hand, the greater sense of disrespect an employee perceives.

In contrast, when we show respect by not answering an incoming phone call, ignoring the buzzing smartphone or latest email on the computer screen, and give our full attention to the employee with us, our actions are positively received and the employee feels authentically appreciated – even before any words or actions are given.

Employees repeatedly tell us they don’t feel respected and valued when they are ignored or their manager isn’t paying attention to them because they’re preoccupied with electronic devices, work, or other people around them.

Quick Distraction Removal Tips

Follow the simple steps below to be on the good list of being an attentive manager. You’ll guarantee not receiving any fines.

·         * Look up and acknowledge an employee when they greet you or enter your work area

·         * Tell them your next actions for preparing to listen and speak with them so they know

·         * Turn off or close down any and all screens of electronic devices

·         * Close down computer screens

·         * Refrain from checking or answering texts, calls or emails

·         * Demonstrate putting work tasks out of sight

* Maintain eye contact and non-verbal conversation keepers

Q: How do you avoid being a distracted listener in the workplace?


"I Think All This Recognition Business Is So Childish"

That’s exactly what this lady said to me on the plane the other day.

“I think all this recognition business is so childish,” she stated emphatically.

I would probably place her as being a late Boomer and she was an academic in languages from a Canadian university. It was obvious she did not personally feel the need for any recognition and viewed employees wanting recognition as like pandering to a child wanting a treat for being a good boy or girl.

She viewed recognition as a waste of time and saw no need for it.

This was certainly a great reception after politely sharing one’s expertise as helping leaders and organizations in getting recognition right. I still had an hour’s flight left with this woman. Should I try to defend myself or simply smile and bury my head in the latest book I had with me.

I tackled the comment on two fronts.

First, I fought fire with fire and used academic findings with a social science study on recognition carried out by Dr. Adam Grant, author of “Give and Take”. In giving her the performance results variations from simply used words of appreciation in an email versus a neutral response, she politely acknowledged the findings by nodding her head. I think she realized I wasn’t speaking about unmeaningful acknowledgement and what she thought as “trinkets and trash” kind of recognition.

Second, I acknowledged that different people want to be acknowledged in different ways. I shared how professionals and high-performers require what I call more of a “pedestal and prestige” type of recognition in contrast with employees of alternate skill levels. I think that appealed to her. Naturally, being acknowledged in professional journals, presenting at conferences, and receiving accolades from peers for service to a professional group is far more appealing to an academic than someone who does not hold that level of expertise.

While she didn’t take back her initial negative evaluation of employee recognition we continued our conversation civilly and respectfully.

We have to be prepared to educate and build awareness of the importance of recognition.

Q: How would you respond to someone viewing recognition as being childish?


A Personal Request: Please Don’t Forget the Regular Employees

I keep hearing from managers, as well as their employees, that there’s a whole bunch of regular folks out there who just don’t get any appreciation or recognition at work.

You and I know there are many employees who are the consistent and die-hard faithful’s, the can’t-do-without, hardworking people, we totally depend upon.

They could be called your “regular” employees. Sure, there might not be any standout performance or above and beyond behaviors but, by golly, nothing would ever get done without them.

And it’s because they don’t shine in the crowd or produce any exceptional results that they often get ignored. No best of the best performance, no nominations, no acknowledgement and no awards. Many times they don’t even know what it feels like to be recognized.

We need to change that.

We must be careful to not just recognize the superstars.

In many cases the superstars will always be the superstars – you know, the high performers who are driven, motivated and blessed with talents that tend to make them the best in anything they do.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that the official armed forces of a country is called the “regular army”. Whether conscripted or professional, I think every country is both dependent upon and grateful for their regular military.

Yes, while heroic actions do take place in any military campaign, you will most likely find they were carried out by regular soldiers who were prepared, trained, and focused on doing their best in any situation, and they happened to be at the right place at the right time to make a significant difference. And so we give them an exceptional heroes’ medal.

But after most campaigns the regular soldiers come home and also receive a medal to acknowledge their participation in the military campaign, because without them the battle could not have been won or fulfilled.

Likewise with our regular employees. Without them the battle of the daily grind, the chores, production lines, operational duties, the regular work, would never be won either.  Each individual comes to work every day to fulfill their mission for the cause at hand.

We must take time out to acknowledge their contributions for winning the daily and weekly battles.

You might not give them a medal or a ribbon but you can rally the troops together and thank them for showing up on time, for being there day in and day out, and for fighting the good fight for the company.

Never underestimate the value of your words in lifting the spirits of your regular army of employees.

Don’t ever forget them.


Respect Comes First

We all know what respect means, don’t we?

Intuitively we know it is treating others as we would like to be treated. It is being polite, like holding the door open for someone behind us or greeting someone with using their name.

Where we may fall down is realizing that respect also means to hold someone or something in esteem or high regard and to actually honor a person for who they are and/or what they do. Do we respect people enough to demonstrate we value them and their contributions?

This is where I am concerned we slip up and neglect to give praise, recognition and compliments on a consistent basis because we don’t fully appreciate the complexity behind respect.

If I regard someone highly enough to honor them then I will almost reverently set aside the time to orchestrate the right way to recognize them. Time no longer becomes an excuse but rather a currency to be worthily spent.

By respecting someone enough I will be thinking more about how they would like to be recognized versus just how I like to be appreciated. And if I don’t know, will I have the courtesy to discretely or even directly find out? Respect can be so much fun!

Am I sensitive and observant enough to see and hear things about a person that could add a powerful “how did you know” effect to a special recognition moment? Valuing people can be a lifelong skillset that builds awareness of the little things around us.

I love origins of words and the root of respect comes from the Latin “respectus” which means “looking back”.

Perhaps we need to look back more frequently. Reflect on occasions we have overlooked or poorly carried out recognition. In looking back with a reframed focus maybe we’ll see if we fully respected our colleagues, friends and family the right way. With better respect then recognition would more naturally flow from us.

Recognition giving begins first with respect.


How Will You Measure Your Life?

Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth & Karen Dillon - authors of How Will You Measure Your Life?

Can high-achievers have it all?

On the next episode of Rideau’s Real Recognition Radio, Roy Saunderson and S. Max Brown speak with Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon, the authors of How Will You Measure Your Life?
Clayton M. Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and the author of seven critically-acclaimed books.  A native of Australia, James Allworth writes for the Harvard Business Review, and has previously worked at Booz & Company, and Apple, Inc.  Karen Dillon was Editor of the Harvard Business Review and previously served as deputy editor of Inc magazine, and was editor and publisher of the critically-acclaimed American Lawyer magazine.
How do you stay grounded in purpose while being satisfied and happy in your career?
Don’t miss the next Real Recognition Radio program to learn how we start to make things better in our own lives.
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