Archive for the "Social Recognition" Category

Why Tracking Employee Recognition Patterns Matters

by Traci Pesch

graphic display of informationRecognize This! – We can learn much about the culture of our workplaces, departments and teams just by deliberately observing and interpreting the pattern of positivity.

We have a new joiner on our team (Welcome, Jessica!) who shared with me this terrific article on how one elementary school teacher is tackling the horror of school bullying one child at a time. As a mother, I was of course interested in this article at face value. But as I read deeper into how this teacher battles bullying, I saw so many parallels to the workplace.

Here’s the method:

“Every Friday afternoon, she [the teacher] asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student who they believe has been an 
exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

“And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, she takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her, and studies them. 
She looks for patterns.

“Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

“Who can’t think of anyone to 

“Who never gets noticed enough 
to be nominated?

“Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

“You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed 
by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.”

I read this and hoped for such teachers for my own children. But then, as I read the patterns the teacher is looking for, it reminded me of the similar patterns we also look for through social recognition programs. It’s the same idea, applied to the workforce. It’s the heart of what it means to “Work Human.”

Social recognition, when monitored and tracked appropriately, reveals similar patterns – both positive and potentially negative. Once those patterns are identified, then deeper investigation and possible corrective actions can be more easily taken.

Who is not getting recognized much at all?

  • Do these people work in very independent roles with little interaction with others? If so, what can I do as a manager to recognize their efforts more myself or look for projects in which they can join in with a team?
  • Is there a potential underlying performance issue resulting in little to no recognition? How can those issues be addressed with additional training or development opportunities?

Who is getting recognized but not by members of their own team?

  • Is there a personality conflict going on amongst team members that needs to be addressed?
  • Is the person getting recognized by those outside the team because he is doing a lot of work to help others on their projects? If so, is this a potential career development path as it’s clearly an area of interest?

Who is not recognizing others?

  • Does this person not have the visibility into the work and contributions of others in order to recognize them? How can we broaden their interaction, perspective or (perhaps) sense of ownership and responsibility for recognizing the valuable contributions of others?
  • Do we need to reeducate some on the importance and value of recognition, even for making progress?
  • Is there a culture of fear or an expectation that recognition is for managers only? Do we need to intervene in some departments directly?

Recognition and appreciation are very human needs. We need to know that what we do is noticed, valued and appreciated. Depriving people of the opportunity to either give or receive recognition and gratitude are features of a bully culture. Understanding and overcoming impediments to the free-flow of positivity through recognition are critical to success.

What kind of culture do you work in?

Captain Obvious: Good Bosses Talk with People

by Lynette Silva

Coworkers talking togetherRecognize This! – Not recognizing employee achievements is the top communication issue preventing effective leadership.

Confession time. I like commercials. Well, I like good, engaging, funny or emotional commercials. I cry every time I see that Folgers commercial with the soldier coming home for Christmas. And I actually replay the new UnitedHealthcare commercial of the couple trying to recreate the “lift” dance scene from the movie classic Dirty Dancing. But the commercials that make me laugh the loudest are the Captain Obvious commercials like this one (email subscribers, click through for video):

Why does Captain Obvious appeal to me so much? Because sometimes, we need to be slapped in the face with the obvious to make us realize what’s really important.

So, in the spirit of Captain Obvious, I share this report from Harvard Business Review, including this overall finding:

“91% of employees say communication issues can drag executives down, according to results from our new Interact/Harris Poll, which was conducted online with roughly 1,000 U.S. workers.”

It’s no surprise managers need to talk to their employees. But look at how the needs break down:

HBR Employee Needs for Communications

If you read between the lines, you can easily see what employees are asking:

  • Do you see the work I do? Does it matter?
  • Am I doing the work right? If not, I blame you for not giving me the time or information I need to do good work.
  • Do you even care about me as a human – who I am and what makes me tick?

These aren’t just important workplace needs. These are needs fundamental human needs. I matter. What I do matters. I am seen. I am heard. I am valued.

Managers who can meet these needs as well as inspire their employees to do the same for their peers and colleagues find themselves with highly engaged, highly productive, highly motivated teams. Those of us who get to work for managers like that are, in turn, highly blessed.

Think about the best manager you ever had. What made them so good?

Compensation Cafe: Keeping Top Employees in an Era of Disappearing Raises

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! — Frequent, timely and appropriately calibrated awards can be a more effective means of rewarding employees fairly than mediocre merit increase budgets.

Without directly intending it, my last two posts on Compensation Cafe addressed how to keep and reward your top performers in a compensation world where raises seem to be disappearing.

In “Where Have All the Raises Gone?” I shared research from Aon Hewitt showing straight salary increases are near all-time lows while short-term rewards and bonus budgets (variable comp) are at an all-time high. I’m not surprised by this. “Merit increases” haven’t really exceeded cost of living adjustments in years. Instead, we should rethink how we define “performance-based rewards,” broadening this to include frequent, timely recognition and rewards for behaviors demonstrated, progress made, and lessons learned.

This built on the earlier post, “3 Tips to Keep Your Best Employees without Increasing Pay.” Drawing on insights from Sarah Kauss, CEO and founder of S’well, the post suggests fostering clear career paths, nurturing connections and relationships, and defining and encouraging deeper purpose are critical elements to creating a work environment great employees won’t want to leave. As Ms. Kauss says, “Find what’s going to inspire your employees to be their best selves, build a sense of loyalty, and ultimately a purpose in being a part of the team.”

Read both posts in full, then come back here and tell me, what is the best way to compensate, reward and recognize people of all skill levels and contribution histories? How do you keep your best employees? What was critical to you for staying in your role?

Why Applying Important Life Skills at Work Matters

by Derek Irvine

Say ThanksRecognize This! – Expressing your appreciation to others is a skill and muscle that requires practice and exercise, in all avenues of life.

I’ve many sources for inspiration for this blog, but one that has rapidly become a favorite is LinkedIn. LinkedIn has become a powerful resource for far more than recruiting leads. The amount of knowledge, insight and wisdom shared by people from across industries, jobs, roles, and functions is simply astounding. Today, I’d like to share such insight and wisdom from two influencers who happened to appear in the same notification email earlier this week.

The “Why” of Appreciation

First, from Suzy Welch, co-author of The Real Life MBA with her husband Jack Welch, is “Three (Unprofessional) Ways to Get Ahead at Work.” I particularly enjoyed her positioning as it highlights how basic life skills (read more, express thanks, volunteer) are powerfully important in both our personal and work lives, lending to the idea of work-life blending. Speaking to the importance of writing thank you notes, Ms. Welch says:

“The best manager I’ve ever known used to keep a small piece of paper taped to her desk. “Gratitude,” it read. And gratitude she did indeed display, to each member of the team, with an authenticity and warmth that inspired nothing short of devotion from us all. But one weekend, I found out that my manager’s generosity of spirit was not a work thing. It was a life thing. Through a series of unexpected events, I ended up giving her a ride to a funeral of mutual acquaintance. Her car was in the shop; another ride fell through. I offered to help, she accepted, and when I dropped her off afterward, that was really the last I thought of it.

“The next morning, though, my inbox contained a beautiful thank you note. It didn’t sound all that different from her work missives, actually. And that’s when I realized that saying thank you all the time is a discipline. It’s a practice, and a personality trait. It’s a heart thing. Do it in your off hours, and chances are, you’ll keep it going when you walk into the office. The upshot? A reputation as someone who understands that nothing good ever happens alone. Or put another way, the reputation of a natural leader.”

Expressing gratitude – sharing your appreciation for the efforts, contributions and successes of others – is a muscle that must be exercised. It really is exercising your heart.

Do you need ideas on how to increase your capacity for gratitude and appreciation. Shawn Achor (author of The Happiness Advantage) has six daily exercises (all taking less than 3 minutes) to help.

Inspiration for Appreciation

Are you not quite convinced on the importance of the Power of Thanks? Jeff Haden shared “40 Inspiring Quotes on Feeling Grateful.” Below are my favorite five.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton

“Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

“The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” Charles Schwab

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” William James

What “life skills” do you find important to achieving success in the workplace, too?

Why We Need Emotional Workers

by Lynette Silva

WorkHuman 2015 imageRecognize This! – The fullness of our messy selves is what fuels our creativity, passion and success. Finding ways to encourage and accommodate emotion at work benefits us all.

I’m a sucker for Pixar movies. Sure, the animations and graphics are amazing, but the stories are the real heart of the movies. Layered and nuanced, Pixar movies reflect back to us our humanity through the unlikely mirrors of monsters, insects, toys and robots. So when I saw Lindsay McCutcheon had put together a video of the most emotional moments from Pixar movies, I was in.

See for yourself the power of emotion – email subscribers, click through for the video. (I watched it without sound, figuring I’d be less likely to ruin my mascara first thing in the morning. I was wrong.)

Emotions Of Pixar from Lindsay McCutcheon on Vimeo.

Brilliantly done, the video first shows all the “negative,” sad emotional moments, then the positive, from a wide cast of Pixar characters over the years. The beauty of this video lies in showing us the human condition – the ebb and flow of what it means to be human.

  • Out of disappointment comes determination. Out of failure, imagination to find a new way.
  • Sadness over the loss of one dream can lead to wonder over the beginning of another.
  • In the midst of feeling alone, we often find those who are our truest family.

I think we can all attest to experiencing these emotions in our lives. Yet our workplaces all too often ask us to bury these emotions (even the good) for a stasis of “pleasant,” for the uncontroversial of “mild mannered.” What are these messages? Usually some form of:

  • Leave the sadness over the loss of a family member at home. When you walk through these doors, you’re here to work. Don’t bring the rest of us down.
  • You’re too happy! You can’t be that joyful all the time. It’s just fake. Who is the real you, anyway?
  • Hide your failures. Admit to nothing. Keep your head down and just keep ploughing forward. If you’re lucky, you won’t be noticed.

Sure these messages are on the extreme edges, but I doubt they’re unfamiliar to most readers. Yet, it’s when we bring our whole selves to work – the entirety of our crazy, mixed up, maddening, creative, insightful, caring humanity – that we can accomplish our best work, together.

We must learn to WorkHuman. It’s not an option any longer. Doing so not only makes the work experience that much better for the individuals involved, but it also drives far better business results.

It’s not too late. Join us at the WorkHuman conference in Orlando, FL, next week as we explore how we WorkHuman. (Use blog code DIBLOG100 when registering for a discount.)

What emotions are permitted in your workplace? Which are disallowed?

Cultures of Recognition Don’t Create Themselves

by Traci Pesch

Lead by Example planning groupRecognize This! – Leadership, involvement by all, and strong communications are critical to making recognition and appreciation part of the daily rhythm of work.

During my career at Globoforce, I’ve had the pleasure of working with dozens of companies across nearly every industry type. While my role is consult with and guide them on their recognition journey, I’ve also learned from them over the years.

One of my current customers is a great example of this. They’ve taken to heart our critical message about the importance of metrics to measure success in achieving their ambitions for recognition, sending out weekly metrics scorecards and key learnings to the core recognition culture team. One such recent scorecard highlighted key learnings as they’ve achieved a milestone in social recognition availability. We see these key learnings across customers as they are fundamental for most any company to achieve their own ambitions for recognition.

Here they are as reported by our customer along with my own additional comments.

Key Learnings

1) “Building a culture of daily recognition and appreciation doesn’t happen overnight. [Our recognition program] puts the power of thanks into the hands of our employees (or into their mobile devices).”

All employees must feel they own the responsibility of sharing recognition, appreciation and praise with their peers, colleagues and superiors. True “everyone-to-everyone” recognition is the foundation for building a culture of daily recognition, which encourages everyone to “catch someone doing something good” and thank them for it. When everyone’s involved, achieving a true culture of recognition happens much more quickly.

2) “[Recognition program] adoption, as measured by unique nominators and unique recipients, is highest when senior leaders express, model, and reinforce the importance of recognition.  When senior leaders use [the recognition program] to recognize employees, we see increased usage.”

The number one item in the blueprint for successful social recognition is “The Tempo Starts at the Top.” Executive and leadership modeling of the recognition behaviors desired from all employees is the most effective way to communicate to everyone, “This matters to our success. It’s important. Take a few minutes to notice the great work happening around you and thank your colleagues for it.”

3) “Senior leaders who have used [the recognition program] to recognize employees have been surprised and amazed to receive heartfelt thank-you responses.”

Recognition and appreciation quickly becomes a virtuous circle with those receiving praise reaching back out to those who recognized them to express gratitude for “having been noticed.” The power of thanks is palpable, especially when you know the boss sees and values you and your work.

4) Communication is key to success.  When we use well-placed messaging, we see an immediate increase in [recognition program] usage.

A well-structured social recognition program is a font of great news and stories to share beyond the system to continually communicate and reinforce desired behaviors and the importance of celebrating others. Establishing a strategic communications and change management plan then executing against it flawlessly ensures recognition becomes “just a way we do business around here.”

As Derek Irvine recently mentioned, if you’re constantly talking about your culture rather than pointing it out as you see it happening around you, then you likely haven’t achieved the culture your truly seeking to create. These key learnings help make your desired recognition culture a reality that’s easy to see blossoming around you every day.

What other ways do you see your culture of recognition coming alive?

3 Lessons on the Power of Thanks on Vacation

by Lynette Silva

Greetings from Cleveland OHRecognize This! – Appreciation and gratitude for others are powerful forces that are always at work, if we choose to notice them.

Last week I enjoyed my first “real” vacation in many years. Learning from the experts I’ve been studying in preparation for WorkHuman next month, I fully disconnected and focused on relaxing and refreshing my mind, body and spirit. It was wonderful!

However, I can’t just switch off my Power of Thanks gene. Once the Power of Thanks gets into how you process your interactions with the people around you every day, everywhere, it becomes second nature to notice great acts of appreciation and joy among others.

So, from my vacation, three object lessons on the power of appreciation I observed in others.

Phillies Baseball – “Jump Around”

My husband, Paul, is a huge baseball fan. We try to take in a baseball game wherever we happen to be on vacation. So, catching a Phillies game while in Philadelphia was a must. Between innings, snippets of popular, fan-energizing music would play. Halfway through the eighth inning, when energy began to flag, the classic “Jump Around” started to play. The usher, a gentleman in his 60s standing at the bottom of the aisle on the railing separating the fans from the field, began to dance and jump around. (I’d share the video, but I don’t have permission from the usher.) Clearly, he enjoys his work and engages with it more deeply than required. And clearly, the fans enjoy him! Technically, his role is to enforce the rules of the ballpark. And still the fans gave him a standing ovation for his dance skills.

The Lesson: When you love your work, it shows. And when it shows, people appreciate you and your efforts all the more.

Cleveland Museum of Art – “Teamwork”

On the recommendation of Brenda Pohlman, fellow blogger here on RecognizeThis!), Paul and I visited the truly outstanding art museum in Cleveland. (And no snide remarks about choosing Cleveland as a vacation destination – it’s a great city and we had a fabulous time!) The museum is huge and, despite spending five hours there, we still didn’t see it all. We needed a snack break halfway through our visit and so visited the museum café. While checking out, the cashier stopped in the middle of ringing up our items to call out to a coworker walking by, saying, “Hey, Todd! You’re the best person here to work with. You make the day more fun and the work easy.” To which Todd replied, “Teamwork makes the dream work! You let me know if you need anything!”

The Lesson: We all have capacity to make work better for those we work with every day. Our attitude and our approach is our own choice. Let’s choose to make work human.

Hotel Room TV – “The Profit”

Every vacation needs a little mindless TV watching in the hotel, right? Unwinding one night, we caught an episode of “The Profit” on CNBC. In this show, Marcus Lemonis invests in struggling businesses, giving both money and his time and expertise to turn it around. In this “Progress Report” episode (click here to watch, then skip ahead to 19:37), Marcus is visiting businesses he’s already invested in to see how they’re doing. One such business was Unique Salon & Spa in Long Island, NY. Though the spa is doing very well now, I was most touched by what Marcus had to say to spa owner Carolyn, telling her explicitly how impressed he is by her work ethic, commitment and dedication. Carolyn visibly tears up, moved by the appreciation that, as the owner and boss, she likely doesn’t often hear.

The Lesson: We never get promoted to a level where we no longer need to hear “thank you.” Even “the boss” needs to hear “I notice and appreciate what you do.”

Where do you see the power of thanks happening around you? How can you contribute to a greater experience of appreciation for others?

The Power of Thanks * 33Voices Interview

by Derek Irvine

Cover of Power of Thanks BookRecognize This! — Thanks and appreciation are powerful because the expression of thanks requires acknowledgement of the actions, achievements, behaviors and contributions of others.

One of my greatest professional pleasures in 2014 was collaborating again with Globoforce CEO Eric Mosley to write The Power of Thanks. Recently, I was honored to be asked to share more about the book with Moe Abdou, founder of 33Voices, a website dedicated to “a global conversation about things that matter in business and in life.”

Throughout the 30-minute conversation, Moe and I discussed why simple but heartfelt and sincere messages of thanks do carry such immense power – to the person receiving those thanks, of course, but also to the person giving them. Click through on the links below for more information:

A few highlights from the interviews:

  • Money may get your team to show up to work, but it’s the psychological contract that will ignite the best in them. Remember that the most important of human needs is appreciation.
  • If you find yourself constantly talking about your culture, seeking to teach people about it, talking culture at your people rather than pointing it out over and over as its happening, it should be clear that the culture you want isn’t fully part of your company.
  • The glue to your social recognition program is your community. Celebrate and promote its value, but don’t neglect the wisdom you gain from the rich pool of data it reveals.

When was the last time you took a moment to deliberately and specifically thank someone? When were you last thanked yourself?



Are You in Need of a Work-Life Reset?

by Lynette Silva

Book Cover: Work-Life ResetRecognize This! – Work-life balance is a myth, but we can learn to blend work and life through purpose, positivity and possibilities.

Rounding out my book review posts for the author panel I’ll be leading at WorkHuman is Work-Life Reset, by Fawn Germer. When we think about what it really means to “WorkHuman” we must always include the reality of the person’s life outside of work. I like Derek Irvine’s concept of work-life blending instead of balance as balance implies work on one end of the spectrum with life on the other and a constant struggle to get the two to balance out. Work-life blending, on the other hand, acknowledges the reality that we bring our work experiences and interactions home with us, just as we bring our families and personal needs into the workplace.

Fawn tackles many of these ideas in her latest book, defining “reset” this way: “Reset is all about taking back the power you’ve lost, whether it was due to adversity or personal resignation. Reset is reclaiming your energy, joy, verve, hope, direction and essence.”

I’m enamored of the idea of how we “take back that power” at work and at home – how we “claim joy” and all that comes with it in both environments. I found several themes woven throughout Fawn’s book on precisely how we do that. Let me share those themes with you.

Finding Purpose – We all have a purpose in this life. It’s discovering our purpose and finding joy in it that’s the trick. Here’s Fawn’s perspective on that work-life blend:

“Your purpose on this earth is to develop as a human being. Love your work, enjoy every possible aspect of it, but don’t let it consume your opportunity to develop on a deeper human level… We don’t get spiritual points for being good at our jobs – we get points for being good at our role in humanity.”

Of course we must be good at our jobs or we won’t have them for very long. But it’s how we WorkHuman at our jobs that helps us fulfill our purpose. That’s where the real value – to ourselves and to others – lies.

Overcoming the Fear of Failure to Embrace the Possibilities – We will all fail. It’s part of the human experience. What we choose do with that failure is what defines us, personally. Avoiding failure or living in fear of it at best keeps us from achieving our true potential and at worst traps us in horrible situations. It’s putting aside the fear to embrace possibilities that brings us fulfillment. Fawn says:

“Life really is an out-of-control experience- if you’re living it right. If you hang on tightly, trying to ensure a positive outcome at every turn, you are never in the discomfort zone long enough to learn what you’re really made of. You are missing the downside, where you swing and miss and suffer for it. You’re also missing the upside, where you grow into a stronger, smarter and deeper person…

“But the biggest excuse for inertia is fear. Legions of people will endure endless abuses at work or in relationships because they are frozen in place, afraid that they won’t be wanted elsewhere or won’t be able to be successful in another environment.”

Happiness and Positivity Is a Choice – Life is not always good or easy. Yet even in the toughest of times, our own outlook and reaction is very much a personal choice. Per Fawn:

“Having money or having everything you ever wanted does not fix what is already wrong within you. If you can’t be happy with your current set of problems, you probably won’t be happy with the next set of problems, either – unless you make a mental shift and decide it is time to be happy…

“People who choose positivity create a very different reality from those who always look for what is wrong. We can influence our experience by having a good attitude.”

I take this one step further. I believe we have a responsibility to reinforce positivity for others. In true WorkHuman environments, this can be quite easy. It’s as simple as pausing to recognize and appreciate others, to proactively tell them, “I see you. I notice the great work you do. You are a valuable and important part of our team and what we do. Thank you.”

Do you have the opportunity to WorkHuman? Join us at the WorkHuman conference in Orlando, FL, June 9-10, to find out how we can all WorkHuman better together. (Register here with blog code DI100 for a blog discount.) And hear more from Fawn and the authors below at the Panel session: Unexpected Innovations: Changing How We Think about a Human Workplace.

Additional Panel Participant Posts

Trends in Employee Recognition: Culture-Oriented/Results-Driven

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe blog logoRecognize This! — Results-driven recognition programs that focus on deeply embedding recognition into the company culture have the greatest impact on employee engagement, motivation, satisfaction and retention.

WorldatWork released their latest“Trends in Employee Recognition” report this week. I shared key trends and insights on the report on Compensation Cafe today (click over for more).

To summarize, top trends highlighted are:

1) Prevalence of recognition programs in organizations continues to grow with emphasis on those that drive results. While length of service continues to be the most prevalent of program types, those that have real results-driven impact continue to grow in popularity, especially programs celebrating above-and-beyond performance, motivating specific behaviors, and encouraging peer recognition.

2) Top goals for recognition continue to align with types of programs offered. Motivating high performance, reinforcing desired behaviors, and creating  positive work environments through a culture of recognition continue to top the goals list for recognition programs.

3) Results-driven programs gain in importance in organizations overall, with an emphasis on increasing employee engagement, motivation, satisfaction and retention.

4) Creating at true culture of recognition and appreciation is a driving factor for increases in employee engagement and motivation.

“Through further analysis it was found that organizations with a strategic and/or embedded culture of recognition indicate that their employees have higher engagement, motivation and satisfaction. Additionally, organizations leveraging result-driven recognition programs, in particular, may be experiencing greater overall success.”

As I said in Compensation Cafe, Good planning matters. Employee recognition is not a nice-to-have soft-skill. When done strategically to reinforce desired behaviors and drive organizational strategic objectives, recognition can have a significant impact on the factors most closely related to increased employee performance, productivity and customer service. That requires detailed planning up front and continual evaluation as organizational needs change for two critical factors: (1) your primary goals and ambitions for the program and (2) the metrics you will use to measure success against those factors.

What trends for recognition are you seeing in your organization?