Archive for the "Social Recognition" Category

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?

The Mark of a True Leader: Generosity

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! — Leaders always put the needs of others first, a true mark of generosity.

What makes a real leader? (And you aren’t a leader unless others are willing to follow you and create success together.) Real leaders are generous with everything at their disposal – time, wisdom, opportunity, money and, above all else, recognition and praise.

Today on the Compensation Cafe blog I shared this insight from Jack Welch, who is on tour promoting his newest book, The Real-Life MBA: Your No-BS Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team, and Growing Your Career.

In the post, I share this quote from Mr. Welch:

“To be a good leader for your employees, one needs to be rich with your praise, cheer them on, love to watch them grow and be excited about their success. You need to be happy to see them get promoted and pleased to give them raises. You need to love to give bonuses. Basically, you need what we call the generosity gene. It’s absolutely critical.”

I couldn’t agree more. Generosity means putting the needs of others ahead of your own, looking to their welfare and success ahead of your own.

Click over for the full post and tell me, what do you define as the mark of a true leader?

Latest SHRM Survey Supports Employee Need to “WorkHuman”

by Derek Irvine

Making connections matterRecognize This! – What makes us happy, satisfied and engaged at work? Deeper connections and relationships with colleagues and a stronger sense of meaningful work.

SHRM released its annual “Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report” yesterday. I wrote about it in more depth on Compensation Café today. (Click over to read more.)

The report is quite interesting. I particularly find it useful how it draws on both satisfaction and engagement measures, yet is careful to distinguish the two. They are very different, and SHRM acknowledges this in the report.

Of particular note are findings related to employee needs for connections with their colleagues and meaning in their work. Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs, comments on the research:

“Workers have shown an increased preference for understanding their role and how it aligns with the success of an organization. What’s important to employees now is a collaborative environment that encourages feedback and interaction among co-workers and between employees and their supervisors.”

These two points – connections and meaningful work – are the crux of our discussions at WorkHuman. Indeed, the relationships we build with others as we work together to deliver products and services of value and purpose are the heart of what defines humanity at work. I hope you can join us at WorkHuman, June 9-10, in Orlando, FL, and help us unpack these important topics in great depth. Register here using code DIBLOG100 for a $100 discount.

Let’s Stop Calling Them “B-Players”

by Derek Irvine

Who's in the spotlight in your organization?Recognize This! – All employees contribute to the success of the company, just maybe not from center stage.

I’ve been working in this space at the intersection of people, HR, technology, and appreciation for many years now. In that time, I’ve seen, heard and read many different attitudes and approaches for how to motivate others, how to manage talent, how to rank employees based on skills and performance, etc. As a reader of this blog, I’m sure you have, too.

One attitude that I’ve come to regard as deeply insidious and dangerous in an organization is thinking about employees as “A” and “B” players. Yes, we all know there are superstar employees, and those who are less skilled or perhaps less committed (or sometimes, just more interested in truly achieving work-life balance). And yet, the blinders of “A vs B” cause us to miss out on the great work, contributions and support our so-called “B” players are ready and willing to give, if just given the chance.

Late last year, Thomas J. DeLong, Philip J. Stomberg Professor of Management Practice in the Organizational Behavior area at Harvard Business School, wrote an article on Harvard Business Review titled “2 Myths about Engaging B-Players.” It’s a follow-up to his seminal article, “Let’s Hear It for B Players.” In the article, Dr. DeLong points out:

“The business world’s understandable fascination with star performers can lure us into the dangerous trap of underestimating the vital importance of supporting actors. Top players do make enormous contributions. Yet in our collective 30 years of consulting, research, and teaching, we have found that companies’ long-term performance relies heavily on the often overlooked commitment and contributions of B players.”

He goes on to point out two myths of Players. First, many organizations tend to focus on getting more out of B players in boom times when resources are tight. That approach means these organizations are missing out on that additional discretionary effort the rest of the time. Second, there really aren’t any B players in highly competitive companies such as Google. I would argue we don’t have any B players at Globoforce, either.

You may be asking, “What about the performance bell curve? Isn’t that a reality? After all, every employee can’t be in the top 10% of high performers.”

Yes, this is true, but it misses the point. As Dr. DeLong points out, many of those in what I call the “Mighty Middle” simply don’t seek the limelight. They don’t need to “shine” themselves. But they certainly deliver high-quality work that makes it possible for your superstars to shine even brighter themselves.

So, can we agree to ban the phrase “B Players” when talking about the valuable people we have the honor to work with every day? Instead, be sure all employees have the opportunity to be respected, recognized and rewarded – regardless of their place in the spotlight – for their behaviors, contributions and efforts that help us all succeed better together.

How does your organization think about employee classification?

Why We Must Bring More Romance to Work

by Lynette Silva

Book Cover ImageRecognize This! – Romance at work is about focusing not on the end goal, but the experience in getting there (and the people we get there with).

Today, I’m continuing my series of book reviews in preparation for the WorkHuman panel with the authors on “Unexpected Innovations: Changing How We Think about a Human Workplace.” (Be sure to register and use blog code DIBLOG100 for a $100 discount.)

It is possible to be both a romantic and a solid businessperson. In his book The Business Romantic: Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself, Tim Leberecht writes about business romance, but not the kind you might expect.

In my review of his book, I’d like to start at the end – the Acknowledgements. I admit to rarely reading book acknowledgements – at least before I started working at Globoforce. Now, I love them. They tend to serve as a perfect mirror of what “good recognition” looks like. Tim’s acknowledgements, however, gave me one of the greatest insights in his entire book:

“So here are my closing credits, the moment I’ve been waiting for. As I was writing them, it occurred to me that it might serve us well – as workers, consumers, and citizens – to begin each project, each tenure, each life endeavor with a draft of acknowledgements, pondering the question ‘Whom, in the end, would you like to thank and why?’ rather than ‘What would you like to have accomplished?’ This will hone our humility, our ability to estimate our own position in the world more realistically.”

This resonated so strongly with me because, in the end, we’ve accomplished very little alone. There’s always someone (or many someones) who helped us along the way, lending help, wisdom, heavy lifting or even just a heartfelt cheer. And that’s the first element of adding some romance to a more WorkHuman workplace – always be thinking first about the people around you.

Why does finding ways to be more romantic in our attitudes toward work matter? Because in many ways, we’re moving away from the consideration of what it means to be human in many aspects of our lives. Tim points out: “What was once the heart and soul of our education [liberal arts core curriculum], the foundation of our most basic notions regarding our humanity, has now become a field of study pursued only by dreamers and rebels.”

Because a workplace is nothing more or less than a group of humans collaborating together towards an end goal, we must put humanity back at the center of our work. Doing so is the essence of romance – seeking not the end, but the experience getting there. The people we get to share experiences with along the way, they help to define the meaning we find in our work and ultimately our lives. Tim uses a phrase I love – “modest moments of intimacy” – or creating ways for people to feel close and connected. What does this mean at work? In Tim’s words, “A good work experience is less about bland company values and manifestos and more about small moments of intimacy, humor, and pleasure.”

And this doesn’t have to be hard. We certainly can’t change other people, but we can change ourselves. So keep in mind the power and impact giving has on you. Referencing research, Tim says, “We constantly underestimate the importance of small moments of attachment… Those who engaged in casual social interactions reported overall more positive emotions.” That’s partly why Tim also encourages: “Force people to look up and interact. Bring departments together for no other reason than to discover each other.”

We find recognition to be a powerful way to do this, by making everyone responsible for looking up from their work to notice the good work and contributions of others, then recognize them for it. Tim references the research of Adam Grant (also a WorkHuman speaker) and his book Give and Take: “Companies should have a strong interest in fostering giving behavior as it enhances key aspects of their performance, including effective collaboration, innovation, service excellence, and quality assurance.”

How do we most typically measure employees today? Through the performance review, which is another reason giving everyone responsibility for recognition of the good work of others is important. Tim illustrates:

“We all wear masks at the workplace, too. We perform by completing tasks and accomplishing goals set mostly by others. But we also enact our own narrative by choreographing our interactions and playing different social roles. These types of performance have become ever more essential to our ‘performance review.’ The knowledge economy has automated many of our quantifiable, concrete tasks and left us with only the fuzzy space or subjective tasks: shaping perceptions; building and cultivating relationships; managing our reputation; curating and sharing tacit knowledge; earning respect, popularity, authority, and influence… If one were to grossly exaggerate, one could say we are no longer what we make or do – we are who others think we are.”

That certainly gave me pause to consider what others think I am. Am I bringing humanity to work? Are you?

Earlier posts in this series:

5 Reasons Surprise Matters (and how to embrace it)

Trends in Work Environments: Finding the Balance to WorkHuman

by Traci Pesch

Balanced rocksRecognize This! –Benefits for some can be perceived as detractors by others. Finding the balance to serve all is key.

As part of my work, I get involved with many different customers across a wide variety of industries, located around the world. When I step back from a particular customer’s situation and look across the spectrum of customers and how they think about the work environment and how people work best together, patters emerge.

1) Physical Space – There’s definitely a difference in how “cool, trendy” companies treat physical office space vs more traditional organization. However, across the board, I’m seeing a lot of detailed attention being paid to how employees get work done within a physical space. Open offices are the trendy approach, but even in these spaces, I see many little tweaks and configurations to give a semblance of “personal space” and even privacy. So, who benefits from an open office structure? Company leaders claim the primary benefit is in increased collaboration, innovation, productivity, etc., but research is showing the opposite. Too much noise and distraction in open offices can actually lower productivity depending on the collaboration scenario. But for some teams and work structures, the ability to easily and quickly collaborate with colleagues is a distinct benefit.

Find the Balance – Structure work environments that give employees ample opportunity to spontaneously collaborate as well as work heads-down in a physical space ideal for concentration. This requires acknowledging different people and teams work best differently and allowing for space ideal for everyone.

2) Perks – Free food (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and nap rooms. On-site dry cleaning, laundry services and car washes. On-site doctors and dentists. These and many more perks are truly a benefit for employees. But everyone also knows companies often offer these services as a way to eliminate these distractions so employees can work longer and more intense hours. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but it all lies in how these benefits are perceived by both the employer and the employee. If there is a dentist on-site, will I be frowned upon for leaving work early to go a dental appointment with a doctor I prefer?

Find the Balance – Invest in perks that ease tiresome burdens for employees and allow them to focus on what matters most to them, but be sure employees are fully comfortable with the option to take advantage of the available perks or not.

3) Recognition – In my nearly 15 years in the industry, I’m seeing a much more rapid adoption of employee social recognition as a driving factor of both individual fulfillment and team and organization success. But as more and more people gain a deeper understanding of the Power of Thanks, I’m also seeing less and less valuable, meaningful and personal recognition experiences. It’s easy to jump on a “Hey, thanks!” bandwagon, but much more important to put the extra effort into crafting a true culture of recognition in which deep, detailed appreciation between peers and leaders alike. (There’s an art and science to this discussed in much greater detail in the book linked above.)

Find the Balance – Recognition, when given specifically and personally, strikes a deep chord and feeds an important human need. Yet how individuals give, receive and process recognition is very different. Be sure to think about the person receiving recognition as much as the person giving it.

The common theme here? Everyone is different. Humans are complex beings. Understanding how we can best work together is an equally complex, but deeply important undertaking. That’s why I’m looking forward to WorkHuman 2015 (June 8-10 in Orlando). I’ve just scratched the surface of the many ways in which we need to think better, harder and deeper about how we WorkHuman together. I hope you’ll join me there. (Register here and enter code DIBLOG100 for a $100 discount).

What do you find to be the most important aspects of a human work environment?

5 Reasons Surprise Matters (and how to embrace it)

by Lynette Silva

Cover of Book "Surprise"Recognize This! – Surprises happens. Our connections with others help us better enjoy the good surprises and weather the bad ones.

I love my job. I know I’m lucky I get to say that. Why do I love my job? Lots of reasons, but at the top of the list is the people I get to work with every day – both my colleagues at Globoforce and the customers who enrich every project I’m involved in. It’s those intimate connections with people and what we learn, do and achieve together that make work fun.

That’s why I’m excited about the upcoming WorkHuman conference. (June 8-10, in Orlando, FL. Register here and use code DIBLOG100for a $100 discount.) The entire event is all about how we can all love our work when we learn to appreciate and respect each other in positive ways to build deeper and stronger connections. I’m honored to lead one of the panel discussions: “Unexpected Innovations: Changing How We Think about a Human Workplace.” The panel will showcase four of the speakers/authors, giving us a chance to unpack in more detail their thoughts around important concepts in a WorkHuman workplace – Surprise/Happiness; Romance/Meaning; Play/Productivity; and Failure/Risk-Taking. (Check out more information on many of these sessions in this post: 8 Upcoming Talks You’d Be Crazy to Miss. Seriously.)

As I prepare for the session, I’m absorbing their books. There is so much wisdom and insight I’d like to share with you. So for the next four weeks, I’ll be sharing a book review from each author. First up, Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected by Tania Luna and Leann Renninger, PhD. I greatly enjoyed this book and took away many personal life learnings.

1) Embracing Surprise Is Important – Surprise is, in a way, all about giving up control. About allowing yourself to be in a place where you can be surprised and to experience wonder. Our world today is nothing but surprise – constant change and the surprise it brings us. That’s why learning how to use surprise to our advantage is so powerful.

“It’s training in the skills that separate people and organizations that thrive in this new world from the ones that can’t stomach the volatility… They are the skills that turn our work and our lives into meaningful adventures.”

2) Surprise Requires Connection — Surprise must be a shared experience. When surprising things happen to us, we naturally want to share with others, building deeper connections.

“Keeping an emotionally and cognitively intense experience to ourselves isn’t just difficult; it can lead to physical illness.”

3) Trust, Stability and Vulnerability Are Critical for Embracing Surprise – Recognition and appreciation play a key role in building trust, which is necessary for us to give up control and accept the unpredictable. Stable connections in the workplace keep us focused on what matters most. Vulnerability does not mean weakness, but openness.

  • “Trust is a psychological safety net that allows us to let go.”
  • “Setting stable ground builds resilience and makes even the worst surprises bearable. Social support is particularly effective at creating stability… Stable and supportive people can also help us gain clarity and just plain remind us that we matter.”
  • “We cannot connect unless we leave ourselves open to the unpredictable delights and disappointments, joys and sorrows of relationships.”

4) Adapting to and Using Surprise to Our Advantage Requires Improvisation – People most adept with surprise “accept that surprises will happen without trying to avoid or predict them.” Improvisation is a terrific way to build this skill because it requires two things in particular – focusing on others and staying in the moment.

“Improv performers agreed that the most important rule in improv is listening to your scene partners rather than thinking about yourself… The same advice applies offstage. In times of uncertainty, turning our attention to others allows us to move more swiftly and make better choices. It also allows us to help others look good, which builds trust and community… The most exciting performers trust that they’ll find themselves someplace better than they imagined, which is precisely how they get there. To improvise, we have to stay with the moment we’re in instead of chasing a moment we want.”

5) Practicing Gratitude Gives Us More Reasons to Be Grateful – I suggest taking the advice in the book one step further. Yes, reflect every day on what you’re grateful for. But then make the extra effort to express your gratitude through recognition by telling the target of your gratitude why and how they’ve given you a reason to be grateful.

“One of the best predictors of life satisfaction is how much gratitude we feel on a regular basis. More gratitude = more joy…. When we get what we expect (even if it’s wonderful), we feel nothing. No surprise = no gratitude. Actively practicing gratitude is the only way to flip on the switch voluntarily instead of sitting around and waiting for gratitude-inspiring surprises to happen.”

Stay tuned next week for wisdom from Tim Lebrecht and his book, The Business Romantic.

How do you handle surprise? Is it something you seek out or try to avoid?

You Asked: Answering Your Questions about The Power of Thanks (Part 2)

by Derek Irvine

Cover of Power of Thanks BookRecognize This! – Social recognition is a very powerful means of creating and managing culture, when structured in a considered, thoughtful way.

Continuing on my last post, below are the remaining questions asked in our recent webinar about our new book, The Power of Thanks. (Download a recording of the webinar.)

Q10: How should companies balance positive recognition with encouraging people to offer candid criticism, as well? In other words, is there a risk that focusing on encouraging positive recognition risks silencing negative feedback?

There is a far greater risk to negative feedback outweighing positive. Both are important, but one thing to be sure to avoid is the “feedback sandwich,” which is just confusing to all. Check out these posts on research showing it takes 5 positive comments to outweigh one negative for feedback recipients and Gallup research showing employees whose managers acknowledge their strengths are far more engaged than those whose managers focus on their weaknesses.

Q11: I am in management in a department that has just completed a hostile takeover of another department. There is a great deal of mistrust and dysfunction. How can we turn this around without undermining the needed authority we have to maintain?

While departmental, many of the principles for any kind of merging of cultures likely applies. I recommend the information in this post: “The Power of Thanks during M&A – 5 Steps to Merge Company Cultures.”

Q12: I give recognition frequently, but I do not receive it (personally) because upper management doesn’t believe in it. I purchase recognition items out of my own money, but just can’t seem to get buy-in from the top.

A strong business case for recognition that appeals to what upper management cares about most would likely be a strong approach. I refer you specifically to chapter 8 in The Power of Thanks, “Driving ROI and Business Results.” Working with customers to create solid business cases is also a service my team offers. Reach out through the email link above if we can help further.

Q13: In today’s environment, we are getting very impersonal and managers miss the little things that count when it comes to employee recognition. Agreed?

Agreed. It’s the many little things that make us a success. Even the very best managers can’t be expected to see all the good occurring around them every day, especially in today’s distributed workforces. That’s why peer recognition is vitally important to empower everyone to “catch someone doing something good. This post has more detail: Open the Floodgates of Recognition.

Q14: Is it effective to do a “recognition” program within a smaller group–if you can’t impact the entire company? And can you give more examples of the best ways to do that?

It can be effective to structure a program in a smaller group, but the same principles of best practice program design apply. No matter the size of the group, follow the blueprint for recognition success outlined in chapter 7 of The Power of Thanks, “Building a Social Recognition Framework.” Doing so will not only ensure success of the program within your smaller group, but also prove the value of your efforts to the company as a whole (hopefully enabling you to expand the positivity to the entire organization).

Q15: Is there a blueprint/best way to measure employee engagement? Cultural health?

That’s a question the various employee engagement survey providers would want to weigh in on, I’m sure. My advice would be to be sure any survey you conduct, you’re prepared to take action on feedback received in a very timely fashion. Otherwise people think their time spent offering their opinions is wasted. For measuring culture health, there’s no better way than staying on top of the factors you’ve determined to be the markers of your culture – your core values (in most cases). Chapter 9 in The Power of Thanks, “How Social Recognition Impacts HR” addresses this topic in much greater detail, delving into the power of big data and people analytics.

Q16: Is there a value to doing a recognition program that simply acknowledges and gives thanks without actual awards?

“Thanks Only” recognition programs have a couple of challenges, first of which is no calibration of recognition to level of effort, contribution, result achieved. Someone who led a cross-departmental team on a project with company-wide, lasting impact should be recognized at a higher level than someone who contributed as part of team to achieving a short-term goal. Without that calibration and differentiation, recognition becomes devalued very quickly. Also, research shows employees themselves find ethanks to not be memorable or have a lasting impact.

Q17: Do you have any research on gamification tools and their impact on social collaboration and recognition. Any success stories or key things to look for in gamification software?

Gamification is a tricky issue. In a true incentives or contest scenario, then gamification techniques make good sense. But in true recognition, you want to be sure all praise and appreciation activity is organic. You don’t want people to game recognition in terms of wanting to be a “top recognizer” on a leaderboard, as that only encourages people to recognize others for the wrong reasons. Again, my colleague, Darcy, has done a terrific job of explaining this in more depth in this post: “5 Myths about Gamification Everyone Should Know.”

Q18: What would be the difference between current social recognition actions and actions like “employee of the month”?

Employee of the Month programs, as traditionally implemented, are often seen as “Teacher’s Pet” programs (John is always the winner as he’s the boss’s favorite) or “Who’s Turn Is It This Month?” (rotating the award through the team, regardless of how deserved the acknowledgement is). There is way to salvage these programs through social recognition practices, which I’ve discussed in this post: “Is Your Employee of the Month Program Recognizing the Right People?”

Clearly, we enjoy addressing your questions here on Recognize This! Feel free to reach out through the email link above any time or in comments on any post. I often address those questions in posts directly.

What are your biggest questions or concerns around social recognition?

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