Archive for the "Social Recognition" Category

A Thanksgiving Tradition

Guest Post by Don MacPherson

Give gratitude to others this ThanksgivingRecognize This! – The root of gratitude is noticing and appreciating how others help us achieve that for which we are grateful.

(Editor’s Note: In the spirit of recognition and gratitude, especially at this time of year, I wanted to “give the floor” to someone who shows us all – by example – what being truly thankful is all about. Bravo to you, Don MacPherson, President of Modern Survey. You set the bar high!)

If you’re reading this, you are successful. Very few unsuccessful people spend their time reading blogs about recognition, employee engagement, and performance. If you are like me, you might be a little surprised by your success. When I was younger, I knew I would have a good life, but I had no idea it would be as good, as interesting, as fulfilling as it is.

When I first began my career, I thought I would never be judged a success unless I was self-made. After a few years struggling, I realized that to become successful I would need the help of others. Since then, there have been many, many supporters.

You might be in a similar situation. There are a lot of people who have helped you along and guided you toward your success. It is how the world works unless you are incredibly talented and gifted.

This month Americans will be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. It is my favorite day of the year. For most Americans, there will be football games on TV, conversations with family, and plenty of food.

I celebrate a bit differently. Thanksgiving is also my favorite day of the year to work. During the last 10 years, I’ve been spending Thanksgiving the same way. I wake before the sun and head directly for the gym. After the workout, I shower and leave for the office.

By 8:00 am, I start making phone calls. I call every single person I can think of who has helped me get to where I am today. I call all Modern Survey’s employees. I call the clients I have worked with during the last year. Modern Survey’s supporters and advocates get calls. My closest friends hear from me.

Then, I call my family. If history repeats itself, when I get Mom on the phone to thank her for being a wonderful, caring parent and for the sacrifices my parents made to make my childhood a safe and healthy time, she will cry just as much as I do.

It’s a humbling day. It’s an emotional day. It’s a day I look forward to. My success is predicated on the help and support of other people. I want to honor those people through the “Thanksgiving routine” I’ve established.

If you’re one of the very important people to get a call from me this Thanksgiving, thank you in advance. I hope you enjoy the message I leave you or the brief conversation we have. I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me.

How do you express gratitude to others during the Thanksgiving season?

Don MacPherson is an employee performance expert with more than 17 years of industry experience. As President of the human capital measurement company, Modern Survey, Don oversees the organization’s consulting and employee measurement practices. Don’s areas of expertise include understanding employee and customer motivations, developing effective leadership, and creating processes for gathering employee feedback. Follow him on Twitter at @MacPherson_D or read his blog.

Finding Your Hidden Heroes – Listen to Their Peers

by Lynette Silva

Bruins Hockey Team Logo with "Strong"Recognize This! – Your “Steady Eddie” employees are the people who make it possible for your stars to shine. They deserve recognition and praise, too.

If Traci Pesch can blog about her beloved Cleveland Cavaliers, then I can about my own Boston Bruins. I moved to Boston more than 20 years ago from West Texas. Needless to say, ice hockey wasn’t a sport we followed where I grew up. But from my first hockey season at Boston University, I was hooked. It’s just such a fast-paced, exciting game, it’s impossible to not get a rush just watching it.

And then there’re moments that bring you to tears. In this case, happy tears. Did you see the sweet story of Liam Fitzgerald last week? I can’t set it up any better NBC Sports did, so I’ll rely on their words:

Liam Fitzgerald is an eight-year-old who has Down syndrome and was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at four. He battled with cancer for three and a half years and has beaten it. He’s also a big Adam McQuaid fan, to the point where Liam dressed up as him for Halloween in 2013. When McQuaid learned of him, the Bruins defenseman arranged for him and his family to be guests at a game in February. He was invited back on Tuesday and this was the result:” (Email subscribers, click through for the video.)

This video has been the talk of the office for days. A colleague of mine, Eric Bauer, had this to say about it:

“It’s great Liam is such a fan of McQuaid. McQuaid’s no superstar, but no slouch either.  He’s one of the most unsung heroes of the Bruins over the last few years.  Every night, he quietly gets his job done, and his presence on the ice is definitely felt.  Although on Tuesday night, McQuaid was superman to Liam (and all the Bruins who fist-pumped Liam as they returned to the locker room).”

So what’s the lesson I draw from all of this? Your superstar employees tend to get the most attention and adulation, but it’s often those in the “mighty middle” that make it possible for those stars to shine. As Eric pointed out, McQuaid is not a superstar, but Patrice Bergeron wouldn’t be the superstar he is without McQuaid “making his presence on the ice felt and getting the job done.”

But Liam noticed. Liam picked the hero that most matched himself – the person who quietly gets the job done and makes those around him happier along the way. And that’s often true in the workplace, too. It’s peers and colleagues who often notice the value of the “Steady Eddies.” That’s why peer recognition is a critical component of a social employee recognition approach. Empower everyone to praise and appreciate your hidden heroes.

Who are your people that “get the job done” but perhaps don’t get the praise your stars often do?

“Hard Work. TOGETHER.” – Applying the Lessons of LeBron at Work

by Traci Pesch

Recognize This! – LeBron’s latest Nike commercial offers three powerful lessons on what we do, why we do it, and how we deliver results.

I work out of Cleveland, OH. I am Cleveland born, Cleveland bred, and very Cleveland proud. (Just ask any of my colleagues. I’m now infamous for always introducing “Cleveland Rocks” into any opportunity.) Like most Clevelanders, I was excited to hear LeBron – King James – was coming home. And that was good enough.

Then, the Nike “Together” commercial hit. Have you seen it? Watch it here (email subscribers, click through):

There is so much power in this, but some of my favorite clips from LeBron are below.

What we do.

“This is our city. We’ve got to do it for Cleveland. Every single night. Every single practice. Every single game. We’ve got to give it all we’ve got. We’ve got to do it for this city.”

We work hard. We give it our all. We deliver on the promises we make to our colleagues, to our customers, to our company.

Why we do it.

“They are going to support us, man, but we’ve got to give all it back to them. The toughness we have on this court is going to come from them – the whole city of Cleveland. It’s time to give them something special.”

We do this because others have worked hard for us. We repeat the behaviors we’ve seen in others, and give it back tenfold.

How we do it.

“Hard work. Together. TOGETHER.”

We are able to do all of this because we do it together. Even with star high-performers, the entire team must work together to achieve success.

Applying this at work with social recognition.

Managers and employees alike have the opportunity to shape their company’s culture and get everyone aligned with the core values and drivers of success.  If everyone feels “all in together” the collective power of that belief can have significant positive results.

To make that happen, hold everyone accountable for the business goals; recognize each other for contributions, achievements and successes aligned with the goals; provide these recognition moments in a timely and frequent manner to optimize reinforcement and up-level the entire team and organization.

Share the burden, share the success. “Hard work, together” is the story of the Power of Thanks at work.

How do you work?

Thank You for Your Service – A Lesson in the Power of Thanks From Our Military Service Members

by Brenda Pohlman

Poster showing all branches of military with "Honor Courage Loyalty" BannerRecognize This! – When recognition and appreciation fully permeate your culture, astounding things can be accomplished, often in the worst of situations.

If you ever doubted the power of recognition, consider the military. I’d venture to say that perhaps no institution on the planet is better at recognition than our armed forces.

Today is Veterans Day in the U.S. (and Remembrance Day in many other countries). It’s a holiday near and dear to my heart. Three of my family members are veterans, two of whom are in their 20th year of active duty. Military service is, as they say, a family affair. I’m not a military spouse or parent mind you, just a sister and daughter, but even in my periphery role I’ve had the chance to be involved. I’m enormously proud of my family’s service to our country and am grateful for the countless opportunities I’ve been given to glimpse a peek into the military lives of my loved ones.

But it wasn’t until I worked in the recognition business that the theme of these experiences became so darn obvious to me. It’s all recognition! As a civilian observer (and recognition strategist) I can clearly see that it is utterly embedded into every corner of military culture. Each of the numerous ceremonies and celebrations I’ve attended throughout the years have been oriented around a recognition moment of some kind – situations focused on acknowledging an individual or team for their commitment and good work…and family was invited to be part of it. Imagine that.

Even the most casual interactions with service members are so often laden with recognition. The simple act of being introduced by my family members to their coworkers includes the inevitable sharing of “why this person is great” stories on both sides. It’s as if there’s a genuine eagerness to publicly and sincerely praise colleagues in front of their loved ones.

The evidence of recognition is everywhere, even at home. My brother’s house, for example, is chock full of representations of career recognition moments – framed handwritten notes of thanks and congratulations, photos signed by legions of teammates, official commemorations of important milestones. The décor is what a designer might describe as “Navy chic,” akin to other trendy decorating styles only with way more recognition on display!

Clearly, this is all by design. The military is simply leveraging the power of thanks to motivate and engage its employees. And it’s doing so in a big, bold, social, emotionally impactful way.

If recognition, praise and appreciation is embraced by the military to inspire people to do amazing things with enormous risk and often immeasurable personal sacrifice, imagine what it can do for your workforce.

On this Veterans Day, take a lesson from our men and women in uniform and thank a coworker. Then pay it back by thanking a veteran too.

Who will you thank today?

Worried about Information Security? Study Says Focus on Employee Engagement

by Derek Irvine

Masked businessman on a computerRecognize This! – Your employees are your most likely source for data breaches. Engaged employees are far less likely to be a risk factor.

What’s on the list of “top concerns” for your organization? I’m willing to wager that security makes the list and likely near the top. Driving recently, I heard a news story about the switch in thinking in tech companies in recent years. Just a few years ago, the idea of hiring “white hat hackers” to find bugs and security weaknesses was verboten. Now, this type of employee is in high demand.

Sure, there are logical technology steps you must take to protect your organization’s data. But you may be missing one of the key factors in keeping your systems, intellectual property, and other key data secure – employee engagement.

Strategy + Business recently reported on a study of information security in the workplace, specifically on how differently security specialists vs. line managers perceive danger spots:

“The authors conducted in-depth interviews with frontline workers, managers, and information security professionals—CIOs and network administrators—at large firms in a variety of industries across the United States. Points of contention quickly emerged. For example, 39 percent of managers cited hackers as the biggest danger, whereas only 4 percent of security specialists agreed, citing threats such as Trojans, viruses, or worms as more dangerous. But in reality, a company’s own staff can be even more vexing: Almost 60 percent of security professionals pinpointed employees as the most likely source of accidental or intentional breaches.

“The most essential bulwark against cybercrime appears to be a happy workforce, according to the study. The interviews revealed two factors that led employees to consciously betray their firms: the knowledge that the proprietary information in a database could be sold to competitors, or a desire to exact revenge on the company for some kind of perceived slight.” (emphasis mine)

This makes good common sense. If I’m engaged with my organization, I want it to continue to be successful. This means I’m focused not only what I need to do for my own personal success, but also the success of my colleagues and the company as a whole. As a result, I’m far less likely to take selfish actions that can have severely negative repercussions.

The article goes on to point out that the worst steps a security team can take are to provoke further negative responses by employees:

“Draconian practices seeking to limit employees’ Internet access can often backfire if they sow bitterness. Instead, managers at all levels should appeal to their employees’ sense of obligation to protect their organization’s resources—emphasizing that other people may be harmed by their mistake. Accordingly, the authors advise, IT professionals should focus on the idea of protecting ‘others’ rather than ‘the company.’

“ And IT experts can dampen some of their employees’ interest in financial gain by emphasizing how coworkers, customers, and employees’ own families could be devastated by a security breach, with consequences ranging from identity theft to widespread job loss.”

When you think of your workplace and your co-workers as a community, then you’re more likely to think of their interests, too. This is the power of relationships at work. When we build deep, meaningful relationships with our co-workers, we are far less likely to behave in a selfish, self-centered manner. And that can impact your organization in very material ways.

How does your organization work to encourage deeper relationships at work?

Compensation Cafe: What’s Your “Waffle House Index” for Employee Engagement?

by Derek Irvine

Waffle House restaurant open at nightRecognize This! — There are many organic measures of employee engagement, if we care to notice them.

Yesterday on Compensation Cafe I shared a case study of the “Waffle House Index” – an informal method of measuring the level of destruction from a weather event (tornado, blizzard, flood, etc.) based on the how functional local Waffle House restaurants after the disaster.

I think we have many such informal measurement tools we use in our own organizations – especially to gauge employee engagement and willingness to go the extra mile. Click over to the Compensation Cafe post for the full details of the Waffle House Index and three examples of such informal indices. My post got a little too long, so below I’m sharing a few diagnostic questions for each of the three indices discussed in Compensation Cafe.

1) Relationships between employees

Ask yourself: Do our employees seem to actually enjoy each others’ companies? Are people sitting together to share lunch or go for a walk on break? Do people reach out to others when they may be experiencing personal highs (the birth of a baby, a birthday) or lows (death of a loved one or other major life change)?

2) Informal gratitude, appreciation and other expressions of recognition

Ask yourself: How does positivity flow through our organization? Is recognition seen as purely a purview of managers or does everyone feel responsible for appreciating the efforts of others? What do we see being recognized by others? Are these the behaviors, actions or results that we want to see reinforced?

3) Voluntarily engagement in outside-of-work activities

 Ask yourself: How popular (really) is our annual BBQ picnic? Do employees come out of sense of obligation or because they really want to? What other “fun” or outside-of-work activities are our employees choosing to do with each other?

Read the full post at Compensation Cafe, then let me know: What alternative metrics do you see in your organization? Are they telling you a good story, or are they indicating an area of concern?

Trick or Treat! Your Work Superpower

by Lynette Silva

GloboGirlRecognize This! – We all have superpowers, if we choose to use them.

Trick or treat! Who’s ready for Halloween? Is your workplace one that encourages costumes? Yesterday, Globoforce hosted a party for the kids of our employees. As someone who tends to receive very few trick-or-treaters at my home, I loved seeing all the cute costumes and meeting the families of my colleagues. Today, however, is all about the adults. We are having a costume contest this afternoon and, yes, I am participating.

My costume, you ask? I am GloboGirl – fighting the injustice of ingratitude everywhere! I’ve always wanted to be a superhero and now’s my chance (cape, mask and all). Superheroes have fascinated me since I was child, especially these aspects:

  • Alter Ego – The mild mannered “Clark Kent” to “Superman.” To hide themselves in plain sight, superheroes adopt a personality diametrically opposed to their super selves. Yet, somehow, the alter ego still reflects the essence of the superhero inside. Clark Kent is a journalist in search of the truth.
  • Super Power – Some superheroes have their powers bestowed upon them in otherworldly fashion (Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman). Others create their own (Batman, Ironman). But all hone and develop those powers or abilities for the betterment of their communities.

Here’s my Halloween “treat” for you. We all have alter egos and superpowers. We all sometimes hide our best selves for various reasons. We all have talents or skills we can bring forward. The “trick” is in wanting to let our super-selves and our super powers shine.

Today, I’m bringing out GloboGirl. But in reality, I always have the ability to fight ingratitude by simply noticing others around me and pausing to sincerely appreciate them and their efforts. It sounds simple (and it is), but the impact is quite powerful. We all have the power to change someone’s perspective, to make their day brighter, to help others feel a greater sense of value and contribution.

The injustice of ingratitude is real. We “trick” our employees all too often by not giving them valuable, timely, authentic feedback and appreciation. Instead, we need to “treat” them with the gift of gratitude. We all need to treat each other with appreciation and recognition.

What’s your superpower at work?

3 Lessons from the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces

by Derek Irvine

Statment about ease of losing trustRecognize This! – Gratitude matters. No matter who good we are, there’s always room for growth and improvement.

Tomorrow, the Great Place to Work® Institute will release the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces 2014 (you can see the list of companies here, starting 23 October). China Gorman, CEO of Great Place to Work, offered insight into trends seen in these best multinational workplaces in her weekly blog post. I’m calling out three of those trends, quoting China and offering a few insights on each trend myself.

1) Great Workplaces Are Getting Better

“The positive trend that I’m speaking, to be exact, is that levels of trust, camaraderie and pride are rising at the best workplaces – essentially, the world’s best workplaces are getting better. In recent years we’ve seen “the best” companies get better in the majority of the ~50 countries where we measure workplaces using our Trust Index© employee survey. Additionally, we have seen increasing trust at the companies that make up Great Place to Work®’s annual World’s Best Multinational Workplaces list.”

In my consulting engagements, I speak often about the importance of creating or strengthening a culture of appreciation and recognition. When I work with “top” companies, leaders will often ask, “We already have a strong workplace culture. What’s the benefit to us of focusing on this?”

Simply put, you’re either moving forward or you’re moving backward. In today’s business world, you never stay in the same place for long. As this study points out, the strong are getting stronger. If you are strong today and are not focused on continuing to build your strengths, you may see your strength slipping away. If you don’t have a good, positive, healthy, appreciative culture today (or even a middling one), you will only continue to lose ground to the “bests.”

2) Increasing “Trust” Increases Business Results

“Our research highlights seven reasons why trust is rising in great workplaces: awareness, evidence, Generation Y, employee gratitude, wellbeing, momentum, and transparency. Globally, company leaders have been demonstrating an increased awareness towards the importance of a high-trust workplace culture. Furthermore, we’re seeing increasingly more evidence published that great workplaces lead to better business results. For example, publicly traded companies on the U.S. Best Companies to Work For list have nearly doubled the performance of the stock market overall from 1997 to 2013 and a paper published earlier this year by the European Corporate Governance Institute which studied data from 14 countries, concluded that higher levels of employee satisfaction (reflected by earning a spot on a best workplaces list generated by Great Place to Work®) corresponded to stock market outperformance in countries with high levels of labor market flexibility, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.”

Out of the six “dimensions” the Great Place to Work model uses, China chose to spend a large amount of her post focused on the impact of one of those dimensions in particular – “Trust.” It’s trust in our leaders, in our colleagues, in the value of our daily work that engages us at work. And, as China points out, the impact of that trust on business results in undeniable – globally. This is, again, a virtuous circle. The more trust we have, the more we give, the more successful the company is, so the more we trust.

3) Employee Gratitude Is Vital to Increasing Trust

“Employee gratitude also plays a big role in high-trust cultures. Best workplace environments reflect employee gratitude and reciprocation and aren’t solely about what management is doing for employees. This is especially true during trying times for companies. When one company’s culture may take a turn for the worse during economic hardships, organizations that take care of their employees amid such a time can create higher levels of trust.”

China also points to employee gratitude as one of main contributors to increasing trust. We express gratitude to our employees in any number of ways, the most obvious being through ongoing, timely, and meaningful recognition and praise. I like the phrase “employee gratitude” for the duality it implies – both the gratitude received by an employee as well as the gratitude expressed to others by an employee. It’s the back and forth between employees at all levels (and not restricted to manager-to-employee only) that creates a broad and deep sense of trust between everyone.

What do you see as the biggest drivers of your organization’s success? How would you describe your culture today?

It’s Not Fair! – Why “Fairness” Matters in Employee Recognition & Reward

by Traci Pesch

It's Not FiarRecognize This! – Research shows our brains are built to perceive fairness as rewarding in itself.

Any parents out there? What’s the most common refrain you hear from your kids? In my house, it’s “That’s not fair!” It can apply to anything – who got the extra chicken finger, who got to pick the movie, who got the comfy chair for movie night, who had to go to bed earlier.

It turns out, my kids’ brains are hardwired for this kind of behavior. Actually, we all are.

Research reported in showed:

“We have an inbuilt idea of fairness as well as a learned one. The researchers, led by Alexander Cappelen at the University of Bergen in Norway, had volunteers perform routine office work for various amounts of time. Then the subjects were put in an MRI machine and told their monetary reward would be split with another participant. This unequal split sometimes reflected the amount each had worked, and sometimes didn’t. When someone found they were receiving more money, the striatum lit up — but it lit up even more when they had worked longer than the other person. In other words, the brain perceived the fairness of the division at a very low level.”

Fairness matters. And that’s why we talk about the need in employee recognition programs to calibrate awards to the level of effort, contribution, and result, among other factors. Think about it. Let’s say you worked on a team project, but through some investigative work, you were solely responsible for the discovery of a system malfunction that could have saved the company millions over the next several months. The entire team is praised for the discovery and every team member is equally recognized with a reward that has an economic value of $100.

You and everyone else on the team know it was your discovery that made the difference. You, of course, feel slighted. But here’s the interesting finding – your fellow colleagues are also upset on your behalf. It’s not “fair” and everyone knows it.

Calibrated award levels let givers of recognition choose the appropriate award based on several factors (proactivity, scope, impact, ownership, and time investment) to ensure the recipient’s experience is memorable, enjoyable and – yes – fair.

How fair are your employee recognition and reward practices?


5 Must-Haves for a Meaningful Message of Appreciation

by Lynette Silva

Cover image of book Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.Recognize This! – We see good examples of recognition around us all the time. The trick is incorporating those lessons in how we recognize others.

What’s your top 5 favorite movie list? I won’t admit to all of mine (just yet), but one is definitely Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (I’m a huge Audrey Hepburn fan.) I share this with you because of a book I finished over the weekend, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M., by Sam Wasson. The book is about the making of the movie, including the making of Audrey Hepburn as an actress up to that point.

What does this have to do with a blog about recognition and appreciation? A letter written by Audrey to Henry Mancini (who did the music for the movie) is a case study in how to write a good recognition message. Here’s the letter:

Dear Henry,

I have just seen our picture – BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S – this time with your score.

A movie without music is a little bit like an aeroplane without fuel. However beautifully the job is done, we are still on the ground and in a world of reality. Your music has lifted us all up and sent us soaring. Everything we cannot say with words or show with action you have expressed for us. You have done this with so much imagination, fun and beauty.

You are the hippest of cats – and the most sensitive of composers!

Thank you, dear Hank.

Lots of love,


Without a good, heartfelt, detailed message of praise, many employee recognition efforts fall flat. I often call these half-hearted efforts “drive-by recognition,” which often looks like the manager breezing past an employee’s desk, calling over his shoulder, “Great job, Louise. Thanks!”

By contrast, Audrey’s letter illustrates what a recognition message should include, specifically:

1) What the person did that is worthy of thanks.

It’s obvious in this case – Henry Mancini added music to a movie, lifting it above what it was alone. How can you apply that at work? Let’s imagine Louise helped you on a client project that required a good deal of research to be completed on a tight deadline. Your message might begin, “Louise, we couldn’t have completed the Smith project without your contributions and deep knowledge of available research in this space.”

2) How that effort went above and beyond.

Above and beyond effort is especially worthy of recognition. Audrey calls that out through a beautiful illustration of how music lifts us all up. In our example, you could continue your message to Louise with, “You dropped other high-priority work to jump into the Smith project with full commitment. You recognized the importance of the project to the overall team and did not hesitate.”

3) Call out the specific skills, talents or attributes demonstrated.

Generalized recognition does not help a person improve or know what behaviors they should repeat. Specific recognition, on the other hand, makes it very clear. Audrey expresses that by describing Henry’s work as “imagination, fun and beauty.” In our example, perhaps you would convey to Louise, “Not only did you pull research to support our position, but you carefully reviewed it for the most relevant arguments, whittling down copious amounts of supporting data to those that would matter the most in this particular and unique case. That take both attention to detail and a willingness to immerse yourself in the client’s mindset and needs.”

4) Make it real to the moment or event being recognized.

To people who are not fans of the movie, the phrase “hippest of cats” might seem merely a reference to the decade in which the note was written. It’s not. Audrey is bringing in words used by her character, Holly Golightly, tying the message of praise even more firmly to the movie and reason for recognition. For Louise, this might read like, “You are our research guru. We might as well call you ‘Google’!”

5) An expression of sincere thanks.

As obvious as it might seem, it’s important to use the words, “thank you.” They mean something at a deep, heartfelt level when not used in a tossed-off fashion. Audrey wraps her note up with those words, and so should you to Louise, “Thank you, Louise.”

(As a bonus, check out this post for other “Letters of Note” that are excellent examples of recognition.)

What’s your favorite movie or message of appreciation?