Archive for the "Social Recognition" Category

Feedback Is Critical (but Don’t Say Anything Negative)

by Lynette Silva

Unbalanced beamRecognize This! – Positive feedback has more power than negative criticism for boosting performance.

In an article sure to inspire a good bit of negative “kids today!” comments, the Wall Street Journal recently published an article on a “kinder, softer” approach to performance management and the performance review process. Here’s an excerpt:

“‘Accentuate the positive’ has become a new mantra at workplaces like VMware Inc., Wayfair Inc., and the Boston Consulting Group Inc., where bosses now dole out frequent praise, urge employees to celebrate small victories and focus performance reviews around a particular worker’s strengths—instead of dwelling on why he flubbed a client presentation…

“Now, managers [at BCG] are expected to extol staffers’ strengths during reviews and check-ins, explaining how the person can use his or her talents to tackle aspects of the job that come less naturally. Bosses are advised to mention no more than one or two areas that require development, [BCG Partner Michelle] Russell adds.”

Does that mean we ignore constructive criticism, or – dare I say – negative feedback, when needed? Of course not. Here’s the opinion of three people (an academic, an employee, and an executive), also from the WSJ article:

“Still, companies that ramp up the positivity need to make sure they’re not totally bypassing the evaluation of employees, [Sheila Heen, a lecturer at Harvard Law School and co-author of Thanks for the Feedback] says…

“Caitlin Marcoux, a senior associate at [PricewaterhouseCoopers], says she still gets told when she messed up. But she appreciates the extra dose of appreciation, which she says has helped to build her confidence. Without it, “I’ll be a harsher critic on myself,” she says….

“Yahoo’s [Chairman, Maynard] Webb cautions that overly positive managers run the risk of ignoring problems festering in their workplace, making for a crisis down the line. Overall, though, the evolution isn’t a bad thing—people perform better when they’re encouraged and inspired, he says.”

The real message in this is all about finding the right balance. When discussing performance improvement needs, it seems most logical to focus on those areas needing improvement – your weaknesses. Yet studies show people are far more effective and productive at work when they focus on work that plays to their strengths and not expending too much effort on improving their weaknesses. This doesn’t mean we ignore performance challenges. It does mean we stop trying to fit round pegs into square holes.

If a member of your team is better at writing exciting materials, and less proficient at creating presentations, it makes good sense to funnel more writing projects to him and finding someone else who has PowerPoint running in their blood to create presentations. Penelope Trunk shares a great example of a member of her team who did this quite successfully by outsourcing what she least liked to do to others who are better at it.

And just because I can’t help throwing out research, don’t forget the findings that it takes five positive comments to balance one negative in our psyches. If you want employees to be able to correct one area, be sure to praise them for five areas they do well.

Remember, too, the worst thing you can do is ignore someone. Employees would rather you focused on their weaknesses than ignored them altogether. We all need feedback. We all deserve to know how we’re doing.

How are you typically evaluated – on your strengths or on your areas needing improvement? How do you typically evaluate others? Which approach do you believe to be more effective?


Compensation Cafe: Millennials on the Market

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! — Career advancement can be perceived as only possible by changing organizations. Good leaders — and good cultures — give employees reasons to stay.

Recognition and retention are inextricably linked with each other. There is extensive research showing employees who do not feel noticed or valued are far more likely to leave for a workplace where they are. Blend this with the seemingly endless reports that Millennials are particularly likely to jump ship if they don’t feel praised, and it can seem like a bit of a firestorm on the topic with Millennials potentially targeted unfairly.

Why do I say “unfairly?” Yesterday on Compensation Cafe, I shared a recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (reported in the Washington Post), that shows how much you earn in the first 10 years of your career is a primary factor in determining your lifetime earnings.

This should give us all pause to consider are we giving our early-career employees enough opportunities to grow and develop? Are we compensating them commensurate with their increasing duties? Are we giving them enough reason to stay and build their careers in your organization?

Read the full post on Compensation Cafe, then come back and tell me, what else are we doing or should we be doing to make the current workplace nearly impossible to leave?

Compensation Cafe: Instead of Employee of the Month…

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! – Employee of the Month programs don’t deliver the recognition employees deserve.

My post this week on Compensation Cafe was inspired by the HR Capitalist, Kris Dunn. In his blog, he shared a couple ideas to revitalize “lame” Employee of the Month programs and asked for more ideas.

Read the full Compensation Cafe post for more on my two ideas for what to do about tired Employee of the Month programs:

  1. Get rid of them.
  2. Use the data in your social recognition program as the primary selection tool.

I’ve heard too many times that people think of Employee of the Month programs as “teacher’s pet” or “who’s turn is it this time?” Our employees deserve much better recognition than that for their efforts that help us achieve our success.

What do you think about Employee of the Month programs?

Core Values Leads to Increased Engagement Resulting in Bottom-line Results

by Derek Irvine

Road Sign Reading "Core Values"Recognize This! – Whatever underpins your company’s culture will impact your company’s success. Building a strong foundation on your core values is proven to increase employee engagement.

In the first chapter of The Power of Thanks, Eric Mosley and I introduce a very important concept that is a foundational principle of the book:

“At the heart of great corporate successes and failures is a single observable phenomenon: the behaviors and values that constitute a company’s culture largely determine its fate.”

Of course, we dive much more deeply into why this is true, but to summarize – the values underlying your culture are the defining factors for how all employees should behave to achieve the organizational objectives. They also give employees a sense of greater meaning and context of their work.

There’s no end of research supporting this assertion, and more keeps coming. Since the publication of The Power of Thanks, Don MacPherson, CEO of ModernSurvey, wrote about how employee understanding of their company’s core values impacts their own engagement:

“When someone says their organizational values are known and understood, that person is 51 times more likely to be ‘Fully Engaged’ than someone who works at an organization without values that are known…

“On Modern Survey’s twice annual study of the U.S. Workforce, we ask a very simple question: Does your organization have a clear set of Values that most employees know about and understand?

“Respondents are given three choices – Yes, No, Maybe. If you say ‘Yes’ to that question, there is nearly a 20% chance you will be ‘Fully Engaged.’ That’s a significant improvement compared to the 16% of ‘Fully Engaged’ employees across the entire U.S. workforce.

“On the other hand, if you say ‘No’ to the values question, it is next to impossible to be ‘Fully Engaged.’ In fact, just 1 in 260 people who responded ‘No’ are ‘Fully Engaged.’ That is less than one-half of one percent!” (all emphasis original)

That is a powerful finding. If you’re employees don’t know your core values, it’s nearly impossible for them to be fully engaged.

If you’re a skeptic asking, “so what?”, the research is equally powerful on the bottom line impact of employee engagement. One recent study from Aon Hewitt showed that every incremental percentage point increase in employee engagement resulted in 0.6% of sales growth. The example shared in that study was quite compelling:

“For example, a $5 billion organization with a gross margin of 55 percent and operating margins of 15 percent increased operating income by $20 million with just a 1 percent improvement in employee engagement. With a 5 percent improvement in employee engagement, operating income jumped to $102 million.”

That’s a lot of money to leave on the table simply because your employees don’t know or understand your core values. And having employees carry your values on a wallet card or attached to their security badge isn’t the answer. At best, that means they might be able to recite your values when asked. No, the most effective way to deeply embed your company values into the hearts, minds and daily work of all employees is to recognize them – and have them recognize each other – every time they demonstrate one of your values in their work. That’s what makes your values real.

For example, “Integrity” is a common value at many companies, as it should be. But it can also be a bit philosophical for employees – “I know I’m a person of integrity, but what exactly does that mean in my day-to-day tasks?” If you were to recognize an employee with a specific, detailed message like this, think how it might encourage repeat behaviors and increase the employee’s engagement in their work and your company:

“Sean, I noticed your work on the Millersville project. The client contact came to you with a very difficult scenario, and they initially seemed unwilling to listen to our proposed solutions. The way you presented options to the customer, clearly outlining why some were more advantageous to them even to our own loss, showed how committed we are to the client’s success. That is a clear demonstration of our core value of ‘Integrity,’ and I and the team appreciate how you handled the situation. Thank you!”

That’s the power of thanks – and it can directly impact your bottom line.

What are your company’s core values? Are all employees in your organization aware of them and committed to living them out in their daily work?

What “Amazing” Did You Miss Today?

by Lynette Silva

Picture of man on his phone while a humpback whale breeches beside him.Recognize This! – Amazing work is being done by brilliant people around us every day, but it’s easy to miss unless we create more avenues for exceptional effort to be seen, acknowledged and appreciated.

Here’s a photo that encapsulates the world we live in today. (Email subscribers, click through.)

Eric Smith, the photographer who captured this image, said about the experience:

“The whales were breaching off Redondo (Beach) and this small sailboat maneuvered into the spot where the spout occurred. I was roughly 50 feet from the whale and her calf when they surfaced next to the sailboat. The guy never looked up from his phone throughout the entire breach. Two women at the front of the boat were taking pictures but he didn’t notice.”

Notice how Eric captioned the picture – “A sign of the times.” Indeed it is.

How much “amazing” do we miss because we’re distracted by the mundane? I have no scientific study to point to, but I have to imagine the percentage of “Missed Amazing” is quite high. And that’s not necessarily through any fault of our own, but the nature of the busy-ness of our world and our work.

2 Reasons We Miss Seeing the “Amazing” around Us

In thinking about it more, I think we miss out on the amazing people and occurrences around us for two key reasons: we’re distracted by other inputs or we ignore potential.

1) Distraction

The humpback whale photo is the perfect illustration of this phenomenon in the wild (pun intended), but it’s no less prevalent in the workplace. We are busy. We acknowledge the great work and contributions by others that we see, but how much do we miss? That’s why we so strongly encourage full peer recognition in true social recognition programs. As I’m known to say in strategy sessions I lead, “Even the very best manager can’t see all the good happening around them every day.”

By empowering all employees to recognize their colleagues for demonstrating your company’s core values in their work, you are adding far more “eyes” on the lookout for “amazing” every day. You are ensuring that good work is noticed, appreciated and praised, and that you are capturing the knowledge of those achievements in an actionable way.

2) Ignoring Potential

To illustrate this point, I, as a loyal New England Patriots football fan, must use the example of Malcolm Butler, the cornerback who made the game-winning play in the Super Bowl. Butler was an undrafted rookie free agent, which means no football team selected him prior to the start of the season. He had to fight for a position on a team. As I learned in this TLNT post:

“Butler played for West Alabama after starting in junior college. He got an assist from Chan Gailey, who coached Butler in the Medal of Honor Bowl and is the current New York Jets offensive coordinator. Gailey recommended that Butler pursue the Patriots given coach Bill Belichick’s willingness to look past draft status and assess raw talent.

“This ability to see talent without the typical indicators for future high potential status likely affected not only the Super Bowl, but both Butler’s and the Patriot’s legacy.”

Sometimes, we miss “amazing” because we’re too locked into what we think “amazing” should look like. Did a member of your team complete a project with an outcome or deliverable that was different than you expected? Too often, we discredit those “different” outcomes because it’s not what we would have done ourselves, even if it was actually a better end result.

Giving people a chance to spread their wings and try new things helps overcome this tendency. In a well-structured social recognition program, peers can recognize cross functional colleagues or teams that might not be part of their own hierarchical structure. This can reveal a team member who contributed to a project and delivered an outcome outside of their “job description.” That might inform you about an avenue for career growth and development for that team member, a key need for loyalty and longevity.

What are other reasons we might miss “Amazing” around us?

The Power of Thanks * Read All about It in Our Latest Book

by Derek Irvine

Cover of Power of Thanks BookRecognize This! – Appreciation, recognition and praise are powerful means to engage and energize today’s modern workforce. That’s the power of “thanks.”

In 2014, I worked on many inspiring and challenging projects, but one I am particularly proud of released today – our newest book, The Power of Thanks: How Social Recognition Empowers Employees and Creates a Best Place to Work.

A labor of love, The Power of Thanks is the latest iteration of research, philosophy and success stories co-authored by Globoforce CEO Eric Mosley and myself. It serves as a blueprint for business leaders on how to harness the power of thanks and social recognition to improve company culture, decrease turnover, increase productivity, and build a happier, more motivated workforce.

Each chapter opens with the story of a leading company empowering their own employees through social recognition, in which the practice of mutual appreciation and trust directs and rewards higher employee performance. The stories shared by Intuit, JetBlue Airways, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Symantec, ConAgra Foods, The Hershey Company, and more illuminate the details in the book on how building a fully engaged, energized workforce is a key to employee happiness and business success.

Why does this matter? A consistently executed culture of recognition inspires:

  • Greater employee engagement and loyalty
  • Stronger, more unified teams and people connections
  • A creative, innovative company culture
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Increased profitability and organizational health

As Eric has said about the book:

The Power of Thanks is more than just the title of the book. It’s a new and long overdue mindset that has the ability to create a work environment that fosters innovation and collaboration for today’s social, multi-generational workforce. When organizations harness the transformative power of emotional connections among colleagues, recognition becomes far more than a ‘nice to have.’ It becomes something that can inspire all employees with a shared purpose and vision, which humanizes work and ultimately moves the business forward.”

Download the first chapter for free and look for The Power of Thanks (in hardcover and eBook formats at all major retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple’s iBookstore.

I’m interested in what you think about the approach we describe. Once you’ve had a read, come back and share your thoughts in comments.

Have you experienced the power of thanks?

Values Are Universal; Behaviors Are Local

by Derek Irvine

Text treatment of logo for "Think Global, Act Local" CampaignRecognize This! – Corporate values define how an organization will succeed in the marketplace, but the desirable behaviors underlying those values may change depending on local cultural or job-related needs.

In the consulting and strategy work I do with global organizations we strongly advise basing a global social recognition program on the organization’s core values such that all employees, wherever in the world they are located, are demonstrating the same values and associated behaviors that company leadership has determined are critical to organizational success.

And yet, it is also true that what works well in one country does not in another because the culture and the people are different with different expectations and needs. We do not advise changing the core values on a regional or local basis, however. Instead, consider the behaviors that underlie those values. Those behaviors should necessarily change in line with local culture or even job role and needs. How someone in R&D demonstrates the value of “Innovation” is necessarily different than how someone in Accounting might do so, for example.

Why is this important? Here are a couple of real-world stories on the impact.

First, from Raj Kaur-Hooper, HR Engagement Manager, Twinings, in an interview in HRZone:

“The values are a key part to knowing what kind of business you are and therefore what kind of people you want driving your business and in what way. They are up there with the company’s strategy, it’s no different to how we would set out an individual’s planning, development and review (PDR), the values are the ‘how’ in how we get to where we want to be…

“You need to have a clear view of what your values-led behaviours are and make sure that your senior team are role modelling them and are happy to be challenged or picked up on non-values-led behaviour.”

A key element here is having the senior team also demonstrating those values-based behaviors. Leadership must come from the top.

Second, S. Chris Edmonds shared the story of a plant’s efforts to transform from the lowest-performing group within the company to the highest:

“One client came to us because of low employee engagement survey scores. They scored 32 out of 100 possible points, the worst score of the eight business units owned by their corporate parent. This plant’s senior leadership team embraced our culture process fully and promptly.

“They defined values with observable behaviors so everyone – leaders and employees – understood what the rules were for effective daily interactions. They increased performance accountability across their production lines. They measured how well leaders lived the organization’s new valued behaviors. They praised leaders who modeled their values, coached leaders who struggled, and redirected leaders who didn’t model or manage to the new values.

“Within six months, conflicts, absenteeism, re-work, and grievances dropped by 60 percent. Within twelve months, efficiency had improved by over 40 percent. Customers reported amazement at the “new service attitude” that company staff displayed.

“When the next ‘all company’ employee engagement survey came around twelve months later, their plant scored 62 out of 100 points! Theirs was the biggest gain in engagement scores of any of business unit in their company system. And, their plant earned the top score across the organization. At the eighteen-month mark, employee engagement had grown 45 percent, customer service rankings had grown 45 percent, and hard dollar profits gains surpassed 35 percent.”

Values matter. The behaviors underlying those values are equally important. But those underlying behaviors may change based on location, region, or even job function. And that’s good. The over-arching, defining values do not change. How we behave in our jobs to demonstrate those values should flex to our local culture and situation.

What are your organization’s core values? Are the desirable behaviors underlying those values different based on factors such as region or job function? What does that look like in your organization?

Compensation Cafe: Why Friends at Work Matter

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! – “Friendships at work” is not a soft topic. It’s a driving factor in employee productivity, retention and wellness.

I couldn’t say everything I wanted to about the importance of friends at work in my post on this blog last week, so I continued the theme today on the Compensation Cafe blog. This latest post looks at several recent surveys (from LinkedIn, HRZone in the UK, and Globoforce) showing how friendships and deep relationships at work that drive key business factors – productivity, retention and wellness.

As I conclude on Compensation Cafe:

“Recognition, as a key component of Total Rewards, is a powerful, positive way of strengthening ties between employees. The Globoforce Fall 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker survey found 91% of us spend more than 30 hours a week with colleagues (vs. 52% who spend that much time with family). With that in mind, it’s no surprise 94% of employees say they like getting recognized by their peers for accomplishments at work. Few know what we do well better than those with whom we work most closely.”

Read the full post on Compensation Cafe, then tell me: How does your organization support friendships at work? With whom do you have the closest relationships? Do those friendships help you achieve more?

Conquer the World with Appreciation! Who’s with Me?

by Lynette Silva

Climbers on Mt Everest's summitRecognize This! – Through recognition and gratitude, we have the opportunity every day to change how we and others experience the world.

Last week was our annual kickoff meeting, which we call Ignite. Every year, I leave the meeting with one compelling, driving thought: “Conquer the world!” I’m not exaggerating. I get fully re-energized by our leadership, my colleagues, and our customers to do everything I can to advance our mission to move our industry forward by striving to become leaders in thought, innovation and global capability.

Why am I so motivated? What’s pushing me personally? Am I just drinking too much of the company Kool-aid?

I don’t think so. I am fired up by what we do, by what we offer to the world. It’s the opportunity to help other organizations and their employees feel as appreciated and valued for their work as I do. So I’m poised and ready to help conquer the world… but I quibble with the right preposition that comes next. Should it be “conquer the world for recognition” or “…with appreciation” or “…through gratitude?”

A minor nuance, sure, but important nevertheless.

  • For recognition implies the end goal – where are we seeking to be when we’re done. To use a mountain climbing analogy, this would be us summiting Mt. Everest.
  • With appreciation references the tools we will use to achieve our goal. In our Everest analogy, this would be camping and climbing gear we need to even attempt the summit.
  • Through gratitude relates to the people we need to rely on to get to top. No one summits Everest alone.

So in the end, all of the prepositional phrases apply. Now that I see it spelled out, my desire to conquer the world for recognition, with appreciation and through gratitude is an example of my own exponential engagement, which is defined as having the right tools to get the job done, a great relationship with the team members needed to do the job, and deep belief in the greater mission and purpose of the work such that I am willing to go the extra mile.

Who’s with me? Are you ready to conquer the world and change how we perceive ourselves, our colleagues and our work? Will you take the first steps by sharing your appreciation and gratitude with the people you are with every day?

What fires you up?

Why Peer Relationships Matter at Work

by Derek Irvine

Diagram of interconnected colleaguesRecognize This! – Peers see and understand more of their colleagues’ contributions, enabling them to offer more support.

Work/life balance is a myth. I could say that in today’s hyper-connected world, work comes home with us far more easily than it did 20 or even 10 years ago. And that would be true. But it’s no less true that our “life” also comes to work with us. Worries about our sick children, concern over a fight with a spouse the night before, fear over making ends meet on a tight budget – all can color how we approach our work and how we treat our colleagues.

At best, we can hope for work/life blending in which we focus on letting the best of both worlds influence each other. I doubt anyone reading this post will argue that that their lives are not very busy. But how do we define that busy-ness? In many ways, I enjoy my work colleagues as much as I do my outside-of-work friends. I have deep, personal relationships with them.

That’s the reality of our lives today. We tend to develop relationships with the people we are in contact with the most. For many of us, we spend more time at work and with work colleagues than we do even with family.

Strengthening and reaffirming those relationships with peers/colleagues at work just makes sense:

  1. Peers see more – Those with whom we work closely naturally have a better window into what we do, ways we contribute, and how we behave.
  2. Peers understand more – Because they are often in similar roles, peers understand the context and the many variables of our working situation. They can more easily appreciate the complexity of our day-to-day.
  3. Peers support more – Our peers are in the same trenches we are. They are working most closely with us to deliver the near-terms goals. They are the ones that most likely know how our kids did at the weekend sports tournament, or how our ill parent is recovering. Peers become a more natural support mechanism at work.

Clearly, our peers are fundamental to how we get the work done. Yet all too often, peers and their observations are ignored or lessened in an employee recognition experience. Managers are given the opportunity to share their appreciation, which is valuable and very important, too, of course. But let’s not ignore both the power of peers and their more direct insight into their colleagues’ contributions and achievements.

One hindrance to peer recognition is manager perception that recognition is one of the few levers they have. At our annual company kickoff event this week, a customer of ours shared the fallacy in this thinking. When they opened peer recognition to all employees to nominate others for recognition and rewards, they results showed 70% of recognition moments came from peers, with only 30% of the budget for recognition and rewards used on those moments. Managers still retained their lever, but empowered all members of their team to notice and appreciate the good happening around them every day.

With whom do you have the deepest relationships at work? How do you recognize and appreciate peers to foster and strengthen those relationships?