Archive for the "Uncategorized" Category

Closing the Skills Gap in a Human Era

By Derek Irvine

Creating heart at workRecognize This! – The practices that make a workplace more human are also the ones that can position a company to successfully adapt to future change.

Many companies are struggling to keep pace with emerging skills gaps. This is according to a recent interview in Harvard Business Review with Cathy Benko, Vice Chairman at Deloitte. She points to the need for companies to move away from industrial-era practices, focusing instead on more fluid and employee-driven approaches.

Reading through the interview, it struck me that many of her recommendations reflect the rising influence of the human era on how companies can manage and grow their people in a digital age.

One quotation stood out in particular: “If you can convince your employees that they are deeply involved—and central to—the reinvention of the company, you can in turn spur engagement, productivity, and mutual success.”

By creating a more human workplace, businesses and their employees can be better prepared to succeed within these ever changing business environments.

The process starts with empowering employees to take a wider view of their work. For example, practices that help employees create meaning and purpose within their current roles set the stage for a deeper level of involvement and engagement within the company.

But this needs to be combined with a sense of the growth opportunities available, within the current role and within future roles that emerge as the organization shifts strategies. Adding this perspective helps employees see how their work contributes over the long-term, as well as the short-term.

Still, a more human workplace is more than the sum of empowered employees and growth opportunities. It is also the strength and quality of the relationships between those people, which extend beyond the formal hierarchy. This aspect becomes increasingly important as professional development takes on a more “latticed” structure – comprised of many multi-directional and dynamic career moves.

In addition to the growth opportunities provided, these networks combine to create perceptions of how the organization interacts with its employees. Interactions that are defined by a level of trust, transparency, and mutual responsibility can be powerful drivers of a workforce that is fully aligned and prepared to meet any challenge.

Energy and motivation can also be carried by such relational networks, spreading throughout the organization. This type of ground-up mobilization of the workforce becomes a key enabler of continuous change and development efforts, keeping a workforce’s skills and capabilities up to date.

To meet the challenges of the future, organizations will need to pay increasing attention to these uniquely human aspects of work – individual pursuits of meaning and growth, as well as rich interactions capable of creating mutual alignment and rapid change.

What is your company doing to help employees adapt to the changing world of work?

Adiona: Making Employee Recognition Mobile, Social, and Global

By Derek Irvine

smartphone-1445489_960_720Recognize This! — Social recognition is well suited to enable business success in response to growing trends in globalization, social networking, and mobile technology.

The modern organization has been drastically transformed in recent years by the confluence of three major trends, each of which has had a large impact on how employees expect to interact with one another. Global boundaries have disappeared, social connectivity has become easier, and mobile technologies have enabled both greater freedom and access.

In an article in the July issue of Adiona Magazine, I analyze the impact that these trends have had on the workplace. It’s an important issue, especially as businesses face stiffer competition for top talent and look to sustain their competitive advantage.

One of the ways in which companies can successfully navigate these trends is through social recognition. A social recognition solution can balances the flexibility desired by a dynamic workforce with a consistent “one company, one culture” framework that improves efficiency and effectiveness.

Here are just a few excerpts from the larger article that help to illustrate that point:

“Thinking globally and acting locally is necessary… [but] it takes the right technology and the right global knowledge to work.” When these two things are in place, recognition can resonate across the world, as boundryless and as fast as the work that is being recognized, and aligned to a single set of shared core values.

As the workplace becomes more social, “recognition reinforces the attitudes that facilitate cooperative work… and encourage all to contribute.” And much like social networks, recognition can provide a timeline of all employees’ contributions and provide data to uncover pockets of excellence and hidden patterns of performance.

Finally, as employees are increasingly on the move, they “need the power to recognize and receive appreciation on the go, [which is] key to ensuring an engaged and motivated workforce.”

Companies that effectively leverage these practices will be well-positioned to compete in today’s business environment and better prepared to leverage their workforce to adapt to future changes.

How has your company used recognition to respond to the changing world of work?

Compensation Cafe: Separating Raises from Performance Reviews, But Then What?

By Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! – As companies change their approach to performance reviews, attention also needs to go into how we can improve the pay discussions that used to go with them.

Performance reviews have been top of mind for many in the HR industry and business leaders in general, including this blog, as we collectively seek out ways to either improve or replace the practice. We are to a point where a number of good proposals and ideas have been put forth, but very few have been tested to see how well they play in the real world and which ones can stand the test of time.

As I write over in this post on Compensation Cafe, there seems to be some agreement that one of these good ideas is to decouple pay discussions and raises from performance discussions. Unfortunately, for all of the attention that performance reviews have been getting, considerably less thought has been given to what pay discussions will look like when they become their own distinct process. In that post, I ask:

What’s a better way to determine those deserving of increases? … In contrast to much of the thought that has gone into developing better performance reviews, I rarely see as much attention being paid to the pay discussions that I expect may become a distinct entity. Worst case scenario, they become as burdensome a process as the performance reviews before them, and simply repeat the mistakes of an “obstacle course of hoops to jump through, hurdles to clear, and a raise as a reward at the end” mentality.

A clear path forward has yet to emerge for refining the ways that pay discussions can occur. A good starting place is to simply begin asking questions to start the conversation. In the post, I begin with the following set of four questions as a first step; click here to read them in more detail.

Should pay discussions continue to rely on performance?

How can pay discussions be linked to performance?

When or how do pay discussions take place?

How can pay discussions be structured to avoid “gaming” the system?

What kind of form do you think pay discussions will take if and when they are separate from performance reviews? Are there other questions you think need to be asked?

Top 10 Recognize This! Posts for 2014

by Derek Irvine

Graphic of 2014Recognize This! – Reviewing the favorite posts of other readers may highlight a new favorite for you.

I’m gratified to see many of my favorite posts from 2014 on this list, which is compiled from the most-read posts of 2014.(Click through on the titles for the full post.)

Which are your favorites?

1) Do These 2 Things or Watch Your Best Employees Leave

Recognize This! – Ongoing, immediate recognition of excellence is as important as career growth and development opportunities to retain top talent.

2) Why Employee Engagement Doesn’t Work

Recognize This! – Buzzwords don’t deliver desired results. Effort to communicate meaning and value does.

3) Perseverance and Progress: Why Grit Matters at Work

Recognize This! – Yes, we need smart people at work, but we need “gritty” people more.

4) Exorcise Energy Vampires to Increase the Bottom Line

Recognize This! – Good performance cannot balance the negative impact of continuously destroying team moral.

5) Strengthening the “Weak Links”

Recognize This! – Teams are made up of individuals who have varying strengths. Bringing out everyone’s strengths further strengthens the team and its results.

6) 5 Steps to Align Your Culture so All Employees Are Committed to Achieving Your Strategy

Recognize This! – Daily employee behaviors contribute to or detract from achieving company strategic objectives. Be sure you’re encouraging the right behaviors depending on your strategic objectives.

7) 5 Types of Fatigued Employees & How to Help Them Re-Engage

Recognize This! – Energy ebbs and flows over time, but we can help employees re-engage when we identify and address key areas of fatigue.

8) How to Love Work Again

Recognize This! – We all want to do good work and also do right by ourselves and our families. Balancing these “energy” needs is the path to success – at work and at home.

9) 3 Tips to Become an Exceptional Manager

Recognize This! – Selflessness, good assumptions and recognition are the most powerful tools in the good manager’s arsenal.

10) 5 Must-Haves for a Meaningful Message of Appreciation

Recognize This! – We see good examples of recognition around us all the time. The trick is incorporating those lessons in how we recognize others.

 

Our Thanks to You This Holiday Season

Recognize This! – You make our blog a success. Thank you.

Gift globeThis holiday season, our blogging team on Recognize This! wish the very best to you and yours.

We deeply appreciate all that our readers have given us throughout the year. Your thoughtful comments and questions have expanded our own knowledge and contributed to this community that is dedicated to increasing the expression of appreciation and gratitude in workforces around the world.

Thank you and Happy Christmas to all.

Compensation Cafe: Global Employee Benefits

by Derek Irvine

Compensation cafe logoRecognize This! — When employee benefits vary by country, benefits pros must ensure employees don’t play the “I wish I had that” game.

I have great admiration for the brilliant people who create and manage global employee benefits programs. These are quite complex and can vary greatly by country, which creates the need for strong communications around why people in one country perhaps receive benefits that employees in another country do not. This can be even more nuanced than employee recognition (and that’s complex enough as evidenced by these posts on recognition inIndia and China).

Yesterday on Compensation Cafe, I shared an infographic summary from Mercer’s  2014 Worldwide Benefit & Employment Guidelines. The graphic shares some more interesting local employee benefits around the world, like prison pay in Brazil or (as I called it) “please leave” pay in France. Check out the post for more details, then tell me, what’s the most interesting or exciting employee benefit offered by your organization?

New Look, New Contributors, New Resources

by Derek Irvine

Sign saying "A Whole New World"Recognize This! – I work with smart, insightful and wise consultants every day. Now is my opportunity to share their expertise with you.

Today is an auspicious day for the Recognize This! blog. As online readers can easily see, we’ve completely overhauled the look and feel of the site (email readers, click through for the full experience).

The main change is I’m no longer alone on this blog. I’ve invited the senior strategists and consultants on my team to join me in sharing important insights, observations and learnings from across our industry and our clients. I’m excited to introduce you to these industry experts I have the pleasure working with every day. (Read their full bios.)

Traci Pesch has been a partner, compatriot and esteemed colleague for the entirety of her 12 year career with Globoforce. She’s been instrumental in the rapid growth of Globoforce having led program implementations for some of our largest and longest-standing clients, headed up product management, and became a founding member of our strategy and consulting services group.

Brenda Pohlman brings similarly lengthy experience in human resources consulting, with nearly two decades of experience across a wide range of HR practices including employee engagement, performance management, recognition, talent assessment and training.

Lynette Silva is our data junkie. She lives in the world of research, statistics, metrics and surveys from various sources including industry analysts, news, blogs, companies and clients. She’s expert at boiling this data into useful information to accelerate client programs and build strong business cases for the power of social recognition.

Andrea Gappmayer is the newest member of our team, bringing her own brand of wit and wisdom to our perspective on employee recognition, engagement, performance, and productivity. She’s deeply familiar with the needs and expectations of the C-suite and communicating powerfully to meet those expectations.

In addition to the new blogging talent, you can see new information on the site as well. In particular, I’d like to point out a few new resources for you:

Recent Insights will be our avenue to share with you short stories on learnings and observations from direct client projects with which we’ve been involved.

Fast Facts is a handy list of stats and quotes on recognition, engagement, retention and performance that may be helpful to you. We’ll be updating these periodically.

The Glossary may be useful to you since various organizations and research firms refer to the same terms often in different ways. This gives you perspective on what we mean when we say “employee engagement” vs. “employee satisfaction” or “recognition” vs. “rewards” vs. “incentives.”

My goal with these changes and additions is to continue to make Recognize This! a useful service to you. I welcome your feedback on the design, content and any additional resources you’d find helpful. Join the conversation in comments!

Employee Appreciation Day – We Can Do So Much Better

Ad image from TV show "The Middle"Recognize This! – Employees deserve appreciation every day, not just one day of the year.

Today is Employee Appreciation Day. I’ve shared in the past why this day irritates me, but it does serve one good, valid and useful purpose – to remind us that employee appreciation day should be every day. (Like St. Valentine’s Day serves as a reminder of the love we should share with others or St. Patrick’s Day as a reason to celebrate the Irish in us all.) I worry the designation of a specific day will lead some to think they can concentrate all of their recognition efforts solely on the first Friday in March and not purposefully and intentionally thank, acknowledge or praise their employees throughout the rest of the year.

How we think about, implement and follow through on employee recognition has changed so dramatically throughout the last couple of decades, Employee Appreciation Day feels like a throwback to a more traditional time when pizza would be ordered for lunch, a “Thank You” banner would be hung on the wall, and leaders would think their mission of appreciation is accomplished.

We can (and we should) do so much more – both for ongoing, frequent, timely and specific recognition as well as for acknowledgment of major milestone anniversaries for employee length of service. I bring up the latter as an excuse to share this video clip, sent to me by an American client who thought I’d find it funny. (Click the link to watch the video as I’m not able to embed it directly here.)

The video is an episode of an American sitcom called “The Middle” about an average family, the father of which is employed at a local limestone quarry. Key time slots and dialogue excerpts are below:

At the 3:52 mark:

  • Frankie (mother of the family, said to Mike, her husband): “Look at this. They’re honoring the guys at your quarry. Uh, Mike, one of them is you. ‘Michael Heck and Robert Branderson are being honored for their 20 years of service to Orson Limestone.’ There’s a dinner. Did you know there was a dinner? Of course you knew there’s a dinner. Were you ever going to tell me this?”
  • Mike: “No, I wasn’t.”
  • Frankie: “Mike, you have to go! This is a big deal.”
  • Mike: “It’s not a big deal. The whole thing is stupid. I just stayed in place for 20 years. It’s like giving an award to a tree.”

At the 6:23 mark:

  • Frankie (to the family assembled at the dinner table): “The quarry is giving your dad an award for his 20 years of hard work.”
  • Mike: “It’s not important.”
  • Brick (son): “What’s the award for? Did you lift a boulder off somebody?”
  • Mike: “No, for 20 years I showed up.”

These two conversations are telling for several reasons:

  1. Traditionally implemented long service programs are often poorly celebrated, making the day feel like just another day for the recipient.
  2. Though this is just a TV show, I’m sure Mike did many things during the course of his 20 years that powerfully and positively impacted his crew, his customers and his company. That’s much more than “just showing up,” yet traditional years of service programs celebrate only the number of years achieved and not the major accomplishments, contributions and successes throughout those years.
  3. In the episode, Mike fights hard about going to the awards dinner. He is a private guy who doesn’t enjoy the spotlight. A dinner in which he’s required to give a speech is not a rewarding experience for him. And that, too, is common in traditional employee anniversary programs – recipients often have great difficulty choosing a rewarding experience that’s personally meaningful and memorable to them.

Use the reminder of today to think about how you can improve the everyday appreciation experience of every employee as well as the major milestone anniversary celebrations of your employees. In both cases, engaging the crowd – the people around us every day – to share in the celebration activities and make past achievements more memorable is by far a better recognition (and appreciation) experience for everyone.

What’s your best recognition experience at work?

More Proof: Frequent Positive Feedback Is Strongest Motivator (and Brain Chemistry Confirms It)

Recognize This! – Dopamine isn’t just the “reward” – it’s the driver of how our brains make us act to receive rewards.

A common question I hear in workshops and meetings is, “Doesn’t too much recognition make it become routine and expected?” I’ve written before about the importance of frequent, timely recognition and several research studies prove it, too (such as this study from Stanford University and Harvard Business School research reported in The Progress Principle.)

Now, research into how dopamine acts in our brains proves the point more strongly.

 “It turns out dopamine’s true effect may be motivation. Dopamine performs its task before we obtain rewards, meaning that its real job is to encourage us to act and motivate us to achieve or avoid something bad…

“A team of Vanderbilt scientists mapped the brains of ‘go-getters’ and ‘slackers’ and found that those willing to work hard for rewards had higher dopamine levels in the striatum and prefrontal cortex—two areas known to impact motivation and reward. Among slackers, dopamine was present in the anterior insula, an area of the brain that is involved in emotion and risk perception. As [behavioral neuroscientist John] Salamone explains, “Low levels of dopamine make people and other animals less likely to work for things, so it has more to do with motivation and cost/benefit analyses than pleasure itself.”

What does this mean for motivating employees (and ourselves)?

“The brain can be trained to feed off of bursts of dopamine sparked by rewarding experiences. You create the dopamine environment, and the brain does the rest. One way to achieve this is by setting incremental goals, according to neurologist Judy Willis. In essence, what you are doing is rewiring the brain to attach a dopamine response to the task you want as a reward. Allow yourself to experience frequent positive feedback as you progress through a series of goals. Dopamine will flow as a result of your brain’s positive reinforcement every time you complete a step and meet a challenge.”

Or, more simply put:

“Dopamine has a biological connection to our motivation to achieve. If there’s anything we can do to increase the flow of dopamine like reinforcing positive feedback through incremental progress, embrace it.”

Well said, indeed. How can you reach out to positively recognize others’ efforts and contributions more frequently? How have you seen such frequent, positive reinforcement impact your own motivation and results?

Teamwork Lessons from the California Coastal Redwoods

Recognize This! – True team structure creates the support system to allow individuals to achieve their very best.

There are many amazing things in America, the coast redwood trees in Northern California are but one. I learned something fascinating about these trees, one of which is they are the tallest trees on earth growing to 350 feet high (or the equivalent of a 35 story building). Yet, considering their height, these giants have a very shallow root system, extending “over one hundred feet from the base, intertwining with the roots of other redwoods. This increases their stability during strong winds and floods.”

Why does this fascinate me? Think of the implications for each tree, which cannot survive alone. It must intermingle its roots with its neighbors to build a sustaining network for long-term survival, even in the harshest conditions. Yet each tree can still grow to impossible heights on its own.

Now think of the similarities in how true teamwork can strengthen a company as a whole and yet still allow individuals to grow. A solid team structure provides the root system needed for information sharing, learning, and support while enabling each person to achieve their own personal heights based on their unique talents and abilities.

What does the “root system” look like in your organization? Among your team?

Image credit: Save the Redwoods