Archive for the "Strategic Recognition & Company Values" Category

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?

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,

Audrey

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?

Compensation Cafe: Employee Recognition – The Psychology Perspective

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! – Employee recognition matters – to employee health, performance and productivity as well as to the bottom line.

There’s lots of research on the importance of recognition and the power of thanks. Long time readers know I’ve written about a good bit of it, whether the research came from academia, industry analysts or vendors. On Compensation Cafe today, I wrote about a new piece of employee recognition research that caught my attention mostly because of who conducted the survey – the American Psychological Association (APA) Center for Organizational Excellence.

Click over for the full post and more on 3 key findings I highlight:

  1. A better recognition experience leads to better business outcomes.
  2. Fair pay matters most, but don’t rely on that too much.
  3. We rely too much on manager recognition.

As I conclude in the original post, it’s a bit obvious why a psychological association would be conducting this research – because whether or not we’re recognized for what we do all day impacts our psychological well-being. And that’s also a bottom-line impact – the health and wellness of our employees.

Read the post and share your comments.

A Culture of Appreciation Starts with You

by Derek Irvine

Thank you speech bubblesRecognize This! – Creating a “thank you” culture requires each of us to do good work and thank and appreciate others who do the same.

Tell me about your workplace environment. What’s the general attitude or “feel” of the office? Hopeful and energetic? Downtrodden and despondent? Somewhere in between?

What’s your personal reaction to this environment? How do you work within it or contribute to improving it? Do you see this as your responsibility?

I believe it is every person’s responsibility to contribute to a work environment and culture they want. If you think about it, every person already is – consciously or subconsciously – by their regular comments, efforts, actions and interactions. The challenge is that those “cultural contributions” can be positive or negative.

So, how do you – and I mean you, personally and individually – create a culture of appreciation? It starts by choosing to be more appreciative yourself, with no hidden agenda but out of a sincere desire to notice, acknowledge and praise the good work of those around you.

Laurie Ruettimann shares a good story around this in her blog today, with this key piece of advice:

“The way you thank people is by doing good work yourself and not looking for a thank you. When you get a chance to pay it forward and say thank you, do it. But don’t wait around for a letter of thanks to come your way.” (Emphasis original)

Let’s break that down:

  1. Do good work – Committing to doing your very best work every day signals to those on your team who rely on you that you are also committed to their success. It communicates that you will do all you can to “own” the work and not burden them further. It acknowledges that you know the value of good work yourself.
  2. Don’t ask for thanks – Unfortunately, this question comes up in many facilitated session I lead on recognition. “What about the people who expect some kind of recognition for every little thing, even when it’s part of their regular job?” My advice to you – don’t contribute to the problem. Good work gets noticed. If you don’t feel you’re being recognized for your good efforts, then refer to Point 1 above and Point 3 below.
  3. Say “thank you” to others – Create the culture you want to be part of. Nobody says “thank you” to you? Start saying “thank you” to others. When you notice good work, desirable behaviors or exceptional effort, make the effort to show the appreciation you’d like to receive in turn. You can be the catalyst of change.

Now, today, look around your workplace. Consider the people you work with. Who can you proactively say “thank you” to in a meaningful, personal and specific way? What’s stopping you?

3 Steps to “Kraft” Innovation in Your Organization

by Lynette Silva

People grilling outsideRecognize This! – Creating a culture of innovation requires hiring innovative people, setting a tone for innovation, measuring innovative success, and recognizing progress along the way.

It’s beautiful Autumn here in New England. This weekend will be peak “leaf-peeping” season when our foliage will be the perfect blend of reds, oranges, yellows, rusts and greens. We will be overrun with tourists who, like me, are simply amazed by the beauty of Fall.

My family is hosting a last-hurrah cook-out before what promises to be a harsh Winter settles in. My kitchen counters are packed with many of the ingredients for our BBQ – boxes of macaroni and cheese, mayo for the coleslaw and potato salad, hot dogs, lemonade, queso cheese dip, and the makings for S’mores.

Besides ingredients for my cook-out, what else do the items on that list have in common? They’re all Kraft Foods products – Oscar Mayer hot dogs, Country Time lemonade, Jet-Puffed marshmallows (the really big ones that smoosh flat the best for extra gooey S’mores), Velveeta cheese for extra creamy queso dip. And since I’m the host on the hook for a great time with great food on Saturday, I’m particularly grateful for the innovation at Kraft Foods Group that makes this possible.

No, this isn’t a commercial for Kraft. But it is a sign of good timing. Seeing this post this morning on Intuit’s “The Fast Track” blog was kismet. In the post, Barry Calpino, vice president of breakthrough innovation at Kraft Food Group, talks about how Kraft refocused their culture of innovation.

Mr. Calpino speaks to three important steps in creating a culture of innovation:

1) Hire for innovation

“Our people are our competitive advantage. When we recruit, we’re always looking for a diverse profile of talent. Our objective is to bring together diverse talent and unique perspectives … which, in turn, drives innovation that reflects the needs of the consumers we serve.”

Hiring “innovative” people can be a bit daunting. What does that mean? What does that look like? Mr. Calpino offers an excellent approach – find people who look at the world a bit differently and who are different from the “norm.” One of the best arguments for “diversity” in the workplace is to create a greater atmosphere for innovation. Different people from different backgrounds and experiences bring different perspectives and often new approaches and solutions.

2) Set the tone for innovation

“Our business unit leaders set the tone and set the example with their sponsorship of innovation – and innovators. It’s important to have empathy to what it’s like to work in white space, given the high rate of failure… Culturally, it’s really about leadership and empathy – leaders signaling to innovators that they ‘get’ the pressure and stress. They’ve been there, and they are supportive and have their backs.”

You must lead by example. And there’s none better than your senior executives to set the example you want all employees to follow. Without failure, you can’t innovate. Not every new idea or concept works out. You must leave room for the trial, error, and iteration that ultimately leads to successful innovation.

3) Measure Innovation Success

“The most important thing is to drive hard against our agenda – and to track it and measure it. It’s one thing to emphasize innovating on traditional brands – it’s another to track it, measure it, and set goals against it. It must be more than talk. And when we have wins, it’s important to share those success stories, to show everyone what’s possible, and what’s achievable.”

The old saw “what gets measured gets managed” is very true. Little signals the importance of goal other than measuring progress towards achieving it.

And that leads to one final step in creating a culture of innovation that Mr. Calpino alludes to throughout the interview:

Recognize Innovation Progress Frequently and in a Timely Way

Recognition, at its core, is reinforcing for employees what behaviors, efforts and outcomes you want to see again and again. Particularly with innovation, you cannot recognize only ultimate success. In creating an innovative culture, you must also recognize and reward employees who take a chance, go out on a limb and… fail. But then learn from the failure, iterate, and try again. That’s recognizing progress. That’s creating a culture in which innovation becomes second nature – because it’s praised and appreciated by everyone.

Does your company have a culture of innovation? How is it supported?

How You Give Feedback Is as Important as What You Say

by Traci Pesch

girls volleyball team celebratingRecognize This! – Some employees are well conditioned to receive and respond to feedback, but they will still do better if that feedback is given in a constructive, helpful and positive way.

My kids are going to top performers in the workplace someday. Sure, they’re only 12 and 5 right now, but I’m fairly confident in their ability to perform, refine skills based on feedback, and deliver results.

Of course, you could chalk this up to “Proud Mama” talk, but I have validation. Andy Porter, Chief People Officer at the Broad Institute, wrote in a Fistful of Talent blog post:

“All things being equal, if I have the opportunity to hire a musician or an athlete over a non-musician or athlete I’ll do it.  Every time.  … How about those running drills you used to do at 6AM before school so you had a chance to make the team as a third-stringer?  Turns out that discipline of getting up early to practice and go after something you really wanted sticks with you even today.  And it makes you a better employee because of it. Why is this the case? … 1. Feedback is public and immediate. … 2. You know who’s better than you.  … 3. The tape doesn’t lie. (Performance is documented.) … 4. Deliberate practice…

“Now when I say ‘musician’ and ‘athlete,’ I’m not talking about the guy who plays Guitar Hero in his underwear or the woman who’s an intramural league MVP.  I’m talking about people who, for an extended period in their lives, were formally trained to be a musician or an athlete and had to practice and perform on a regular basis.  Why?  Because they understand the importance of accepting critical feedback and diligently practice to get better.  It’s just part of their DNA.  And in a work world where most people are just trying not to make waves and piss anyone off, it’s refreshing to have people on the team who demand that you help them be better.”

I agree with Andy’s perspective. Aside from specific skills, athletics and music train for discipline. Being in the midst of volleyball tournament season with my daughter and the soccer season with my son, I’m on the sidelines watching the practices, seeing the reactions to referee judgments or coaching corrections, and watching how they respond by working harder and tweaking performance.

But one observation I’ve made more times than I like to count is how feedback is given to these young athletes. By way of example, let me share this story from one of my daughter’s volleyball games this past weekend. The opposing team had a very vocal parental cheering section, and not in a good way. Waves of constant berating comments flowed from the stands, both towards our team as well as their own team members. I noticed the physical effect on the girls – downturned shoulders, less aggression, negative instead of supportive comments between the teammates – and this was the girls on the team we were playing against, responding to comments from their “cheering” section.

I’m proud of how our girls rallied. We cheered them on with positive encouragement and comments like “You’ll get it next time, step in more.” The girls offered encouraging words to each other, as they usually do. The outcome – it was a well-played game on both sides by well-matched teams based on skills, but our team won. I know beyond a doubt a key reason we won was the consistent, positive feedback, even when constructive criticism or redirection was also needed.

So, yes, your “athlete and musician” employees are accustomed to feedback and hard work, but how that feedback is given is a primary determinant of how well the individual and the team perform.

What’s the predominant form of feedback in your organization or team? How do employees respond?

Compensation Cafe: Rewarding Ideas As Well As Results

by Derek Irvine

Compensation cafe logoRecognize This! – Without ideas, the amount of work invested matters not at all.

Tim Sackett is on my list of “must follow” bloggers. This post gives a good example as to why. On Compensation Cafe yesterday, I riffed on Tim’s post about the importance of ideas over work. I pointed out, we tend to focus in our pay practices far more on the work than on the idea. Even recognition and reward programs often emphasis the work – the process, the progress made, the contribution, the end result – more than the idea itself. And that’s not good.

Ideas don’t have immediate value to the organization. It may take months or years for any benefit of an idea to show up in the bottom line. But without the idea, the business stagnates. We need to recognize and reward ideas, too, before we see the benefit to the organization and often before we know if we’ll ever see a benefit to the organization. This approach is particularly important if you want to create a culture of innovation.

Read the full post on Compensation Cafe to see more on why “imagination” is a critical core value for Globoforce, and three ways you can make sure you’re recognizing and rewarding the ideas as much as the work.

3 Reasons Why Mobile Recognition Matters

by Derek Irvine

Image of Globoforce Mobile AppRecognize This! – Making recognition easy to give and receive anytime, anywhere is a powerful contributor to creating a Positivity Dominated Workplace.

Usually, I write more about the strategic side of employee recognition and how social recognition, when done right, can drive bottom-line business results through increased employee engagement, retention, productivity and performance.

But that doesn’t negate the importance of the enabling technologies that make social recognition possible in today’s fast-moving work environment. Once such technology is mobile recognition –putting the ability to specifically, meaningfully and personally recognize others when they live your core values into the palm of your hand, wherever, whenever.

Mobile matters because it makes recognition:

1) Easy to give – Think about when you want to recognize someone for work well done. Often, it’s in the moment – you’ve just left a meeting or seen outstanding behavior on the fly. Recognition should be just as quick and easy to give while ensuring it’s also recorded and tracked for deeper analytic application.

2) Timely to receive – Timely recognition is most effective for the recipient as it immediately reinforces good behaviors, contributions or outcomes. This makes it easy to know what is desirable and repeat those actions again and again. Mobile recognition lets deserving employees receive recognition quickly and on the go.

3) Actionable in the moment – When a continuous newsfeed of recognition activity is at the forefront, people within a workgroup or across the organization can see the goodwill flowing throughout the company, contributing to creating a Positivity Dominated Workplace. A visible newsfeed encourages viewers to take action and add their congratulations to the messages of recognition for achievements by their colleagues.

Indeed, I’m particularly proud of Globoforce’s innovation in mobile recognition, with native apps tied directly to our online platform for seamless a seamless recognition experience regardless of how you access and consistent reporting. Just last week, we were honored for our innovation in Mobile Recognition by the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) with the Mobile Technology of the Year award.

Our VP of Product, Grant Beckett, had this to say:

“Globoforce’s social recognition programs are backed by the best technology in the world. The ability for our customers to recognize good work from anywhere in the world at any time through our unmatched mobile technology is a driving force in our success. We are honored to receive this prestigious award and dedicate it to our team who work tirelessly to make our mobile capabilities the very best in the industry.”

Many congratulations to our mobile innovation team!

How do you make recognizing others and celebrating success fast, easy and always available for everyone?

65 Pairs of Shoes and Counting: A New Twist on the Business Case for Recognition

by Brenda Pohlman

Pile of shoesRecognize This! — Use “employees as consumers” as a metric in the business case for recognition.

I’m really fortunate to work with smart customers. In fact, that’s among the best aspects of my job. As a consultant, it’s my responsibility to encourage customers to think big about what’s possible with recognition, to stretch the boundaries of their ideas and get creative about how to achieve lofty goals. But as is often the case, it was my own thinking that got stretched by a customer during a recent conversation about the business case for recognition.

This clever customer suggested that there is likely a connection between recognition and engagement and employee sales. By “employee sales” he meant actual purchases of your company’s products or services by employees as consumers themselves. The question was posed this way: “What if…” (Let me pause and point out the use of this classic problem-solving tactic. Any question beginning with “What if” is one worth asking!). “What if we could show that our recognition-oriented culture increased employee engagement and this in turn made employees feel great about our company’s brand as a consumer and they actually bought more of our products as a result? What if a percentage of our employees were inspired to spend $100 more a year on our products because they felt appreciated at work?”

I’d never heard that specific question asked before and didn’t have an answer, only a reaction. Yes, of course! This instinctively makes perfect sense – this connection must exist – but I didn’t have any proof.

There’s a robust body of research today on the connection between recognition and constructs like employee retention and engagement. Our regular blog readers will know that we’re often citing these powerful proof points. These are the go-to arguments that create the foundation for a strong business case for recognition.

The first part of the customer’s idea – the correlation between recognition-centered cultures and improved employee engagement – is well established. Likewise, the connection between employee engagement and increased company sales is well documented. There’s also lots of supporting research showing that if your employees are good consumers of your brand themselves, they are likely to be good brand advocates with others, which yields increases in customer satisfaction and sales.

But it seems these arguments may have overlooked a piece of low-hanging fruit in the midst of the correlations: the top-line revenue directly represented by employee purchases of your goods and services. Admittedly, this idea is only relevant if you work for a company with consumer-facing product lines, like the customer who posed the original question. His company has hundreds of thousands of employees and hundreds of consumer brands to sell to those employees. Undoubtedly, most of his employees are already customers. So ubiquitous are this company’s brands that you and I are likely already customers too. But if you are, say, a manufacturer of jet engines, this concept isn’t going to be part of your recognition business case strategy.

My instinctively positive support of this idea is born in part from personal experience. Personal experience in amassing a footwear collection that peaked at 65 pairs of shoes. I had a job in my mid-twenties that I adored. I was a Store Manager with a specialty footwear retailer and damn, was I engaged. The effort I made to succeed in that role is almost shocking to me when I look back on it. How is it that these were some of the toughest days of my working career but also some of my fondest worklife memories? What was it that inspired my willingness to commit to a relentless schedule of double shifts, back-to-back-to-back workweeks without a day off in sight, and foregoing family time at the holidays, among the other challenges a retail life brings?

Recognition of course. I had a District Manager who was great at it. He offered near daily feedback on what I was doing well. He congratulated me and my team on district-wide calls for significant store accomplishments, and took moments to follow-up with a quick ‘thank you’ for lesser contributions. It was constant, timely, genuine and motivational.

One particular recognition moment is still fresh today – the day the inventory audit numbers were released. I’d prepped my little heart out for that audit and kept my staff in the store til 3:00 am on inventory night to be sure we got it right. My District Manager called me at home one evening with the results. He said he couldn’t wait to share the news. My store had achieved an amazingly low loss ratio, meaning I’d managed to not lose too much stuff through bad stock room practices and theft. He said he’d never seen anything like it. It was the lowest loss rate in the company. I could hear in his voice how thrilled he was, not just as a leader who needed his stores to perform well, but as someone who was genuinely excited for me about my accomplishment.

All that recognition fueled my engine. And so I exuded the classic behaviors of a highly engaged employee, chief among them perhaps – immense brand loyalty. Sure, I worked hard during my tenure and put forth lots of discretionary effort, but I also bought 65 pairs of this company’s shoes while I was there. 65 pairs of shoes purchased by a poorly paid employee because she had a love for the brand inspired by feelings of being valued and appreciated! Whoa.

My personal revenue-contributing experience is a mere drop in the bucket compared to what’s possible. For my clever customer who inspired the idea, we speculated that this “employee as consumer” concept could mean millions to his company’s revenue numbers.

Along with your lofty goals around improved retention and engagement, don’t overlook the low-hanging fruit when creating a cost-benefit analysis for recognition. Do you know how much revenue is represented by employee purchases at your company? What if your recognition practices had a hand in boosting this because your employees feel valued and feel good about your culture and your brand? How much would this mean to your top line sales numbers – another $100,000 a year, a million, more? Now imagine if your recognition investment paid for itself as a result. There’s your business case.

(For the record, I’ve since embraced the notion of downsizing in my wiser years and my current shoe inventory is a mere fraction of its former self.)

The Real Definition of “Courage”

by Lynette Silva

Granite stone engraved with word "courage"Recognize This! – Courage can be demonstrated in ways both big and small, all important.

I’m flying today. I’ve heard too many comments to count along the lines of, “You’re flying on 9/11? Your crazy!” or “You must have a lot of courage to fly on 9/11.”

Choosing to fly on the anniversary of a tragic day is not courageous. I’m just doing what needs to be done in the course of my regular work. True courage was defined on 9/11/2001. Running into disaster instead of away from it. Knowingly risking your own life to save others. Pushing, pushing, pushing to help, past the point of exhaustion and even reason. Some of those truly courageous people would also say, “That’s not courage, that’s just doing my job.” Yet “courage” is part of their job.

On the Recognize This! blog, we write a lot about how to make your core values real in the daily work of all employees. And courage is a not-uncommon value at many companies. But it is often a misunderstood value. Courage can be big and dramatic, and it can be little and nearly unremarked. But it is no less important. Right now, I’m thinking of the people who lived relatively close to World Trade Center that welcomed people running for their lives. Giving them shelter from the debris and water to clear the dust from their throats. The world was turned upside down that day. The easy solution for these people would have been to lock their doors and shut the crazy out. But they didn’t. They showed courage, too.

Today, to remember the victims and to honor the survivors and first responders, perhaps take a moment to notice the courageous acts – both big and small – happening around you. Then pause to appreciate those people who are themselves courageous. Tell them thank you.

What does courage mean to you?

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