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Employee Recognition: A New Paradigm - Alan Allard

Employee Recognition: A New Paradigm

Published on April 10, 2013 by

I am happy to introduce you to Stan Phelps as my guest blogger today. Stan is the CMO (Chief Measurement Officer) at 9 Inch Marketing and the author of “What’s Your Green Goldfish – Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement and Reinforce Culture”

You don't have to be a manager to get value from Stan's wealth of experience and the tips he shares:

Recognition fuels a sense of worth and belonging in individuals. No rocket science here. As humans we crave acceptance. Yet, the majority of companies see recognition as an afterthought. Most are putting the cart before the horse. Recognition can impact satisfaction and more importantly performance.

SHIFTING A MINDSET

Most managers take an, “if, then” approach to recognition. Shawn Achor believes this paradigm needs to change, “…from thinking that encouragement and recognition should be used as rewards for high performance as opposed to thinking that encouragement and recognition are drivers of high performance.” {Source: The Happiness Advantage}

Here are five Green Goldfish ways to make a difference with Recognition

1. Get Creative and Have Fun - Decision Lens (Green Goldfish #712) awards top-performing salespeople with custom-made action figures designed to resemble the employee.  According to Co-Founder John Saaty,

"It's a humorous way to acknowledge the great efforts of our sales team, and something that's more memorable than the usual plaque or something like that."  {Source: Entrepreneur}

2. Make it Visible - The Tabar (Green Goldfish #411) Thumbs Up Award is a roaming statue that sits on an employee’s desk when he or she goes over and above the call of job performance. {Source: Outside Magazine}

3. Do it often and consistently - Every week The Nerdery (Green Goldfish #305) agency compiles a video of shout-outs, with employees publicly praising their fellow nerds for going above and beyond. Five shout-out recipients are chosen for free lunches the following week. The weekly shout-out video is played for all at the Friday afternoon Bottlecap Talk, where the agency celebrates the successful launch of a recent project with a show-and-tell demo led by the rockstar developers who made it happen. {Source: Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal}

4. Take Note – it doesn’t have to cost anything. Former CEO of the Campbell Soup Company (Green Goldfish #21) Doug Conant is a big proponent of the power of handwritten notes. In Doug's words,

"Look for opportunities to celebrate. My executive assistants and I would spend a good 30 to 60 minutes a day scanning my mail and our internal website looking for news of people who have made a difference at Campbell's. Get out your pen. Believe it or not, I have sent roughly 30,000 handwritten notes to employees over the last decade, from maintenance people to senior executives. I let them know that I am personally paying attention and celebrating their accomplishments.(I send handwritten notes too because well over half of our associates don't use a computer).

I also jump on any opportunities to write to people who partner with our company any time I meet with them. It's the least you can do for people who do things to help your company and industry. On the face of it, writing handwritten notes may seem like a waste of time. But in my experience, they build goodwill and lead to higher productivity.” {Source: HBR}

5.  Don’t play politics, recognize everyone on the merits. Long before he became CEO of iProspect (Green Goldfish #739), back as an analyst at Bain Capital and KPMG, Robert J. Murray had an idea on how you should run a services business. "One thing that always surprised me in prior work experiences is when your assets walk out the door each day, why aren't companies doing more to value the people doing the business?"

Mr. Murray thinks he's found the answer to that, and quite a large number of his employees happen to agree. Mr. Murray's formula: hire competitive people; promote early and often; give constant feedback, including iProps -- notes of encouragement. "We are a meritocracy. When positions come open, we don't care if you've been here six months or six years -- we will promote the best person into that position," he said. {Source: AdAge.com}

RECOGNITION RESONATES

Recognition is effective. Thirty-five percent of workers and 30% of chief financial officers cited frequent recognition of accomplishments as the most effective nonmonetary reward. Thanking people for their hard work and commitment is key to making them feel appreciated. {Source: Accountemps}

Remember, it’s not just an afterthought, it’s a driver of performance.

About the Author 9 INCH MARKETING, an organization that believes today’s leaders need to think differently about marketing, employee engagement and corporate culture. He is the author of “What’s Your Green Goldfish – Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement and Reinforce Culture”

 

Alan's note: Please jump in and leave your comments, ideas and insights.

 

10 Comments

  1. Rob

    This is very refreshing. Human nature seems to suggest that we better 'be careful with our recognition, lest we allow complacency to sneak in'. How completely untrue! Campbell's former, letter writing CEO is a perfect example of this. Truthfully a turning point in my own career happened to be getting a hand-written not from my boss's boss at the time.

    • Alan Allard

      Isn't it interesting, as you say, we are often afraid to overdo it in the recognition department. We have to take a look at the results we are getting in the workplace. Tony Schwartz's book title says it all: "The Way We're Working Isn't Working." It's not that we're not doing some things right, we are. It's time to build on what we're doing well and change what we are missing the boat on. Thanks for your comments Rob.

  2. Andrea Ray

    I think that these are great ideas for anyone leading any sort of team. With the current economic situation, businesses are being forced to expect more out of their employees than they ever have just to make ends meet. However, very few are tempering the longer hours/ larger work load with enough positive reinforcement. These companies "reap what they sow," with qualified employees leaving by the droves. I loved these ideas that can be implemented with negligible costs to employers. ( I personally liked the super hero one the best).

    • Alan Allard

      Andrea, thanks for you comments and insights. I love what you say here: "With the current economic situation, businesses are being forced to expect more out of their employees than they ever have just to make ends meet. However, very few are tempering the longer hours/ larger work load with enough positive reinforcement. These companies "reap what they sow," with qualified employees leaving by the droves."

      So true! Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  3. Dan Black

    What an important topic to remember as leaders! If we want our people to be motivated, produce better results, and take ownership of the vision requires creating a positive and nurturing culture. The leader should be speaking life into their people while still holding them accountable for results. Great post and insights!

    • Alan Allard

      Dan, thanks for adding to our discussion on leadership. You make a great point about leaders needing to "take ownership of the vision requires creating a positive and nurturing culture." If a manager isn't happy with the performance of a team member, two of the most critical places to look at are: 1) Is this the right fit for this person? If it is, the next place to work is 2) Is there anything in the environment/culture that needs to be addressed--is anything in the environment that is hurting performance?

      And as a bonus, here's the third place to look: 3) Is there something going on internally with the team member that he or she needs to address--and how can I be helpful? Are they dealing with a personal or family challenge? Are they burned out, depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, lacking a vision for their life or career, having difficulties with a team member, feeling undervalued or unappreciated, etc?

      Thanks for stopping by.

      P.S.

  4. Dan Black

    Great three points, especially number 3! We should not quickly judge the reason why someone's actions or behaviors have changed until we have learned the full story. It also goes back to the importance of connecting and building relationships with those around us. So if this does happen we can easily come and openly talk with them.

    • Alan Allard

      "It also goes back to the importance of connecting and building relationships with those around us. So if this does happen we can easily come and openly talk with them." Absolutely. Ideally, we will invest in relationships before we need to have these kind of conversations. People need to feel comfortable and safe before they will tell us what's really on their minds. If a conversation is not flowing, it's likely the rapport and connection just isn't there yet.

  5. TJ Trent

    Alan,

    I have used hand written notes for a while and I believe they are appreciated. Too often we think only senior leaders should have note cards and send notes to team members. In this area first line leaders need to set the example and lead -up. Start leaving hand written notes for your team members.

    Just the other day a Soldier offered me some advice on how I could better communicate with him. The next day I thanked him with a hand written note on my stationary. He was suprised and said thank you.

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