Posts Tagged "recognition’

Gallup: Why Only 15% of Germany’s Workers Are Engaged

by Derek Irvine

Robot shaking hands with a humanRecognize This! – 85% of Germany’s workers are not engaged or actively disengaged, costing the EU’s largest economy €275 billion each year.

I often write about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and how being recognized is critical to our sense of fulfillment, hence, our productivity at work. In cultures across the globe, this need for recognition unites us as humans. We may not recognize others in the same way, but the need for thanks is there nonetheless.

This month, Gallup released findings that 85% of German employees are disengaged at work—and it’s costing the country €275 billion a year in lost productivity. That’s almost double the amount two years ago. Why is this happening? What makes German employees and their workplaces so different?

Engagement is primarily driven by managers. The Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales, Germany’s federal ministry of labor and social affairs, acknowledges that people management and management culture is not one of the country’s strengths.

MBA programs in Germany focus on training for financial and process management, with little or no attention to people management. That value is reinforced in the workplace.

Employees are promoted based on technical skill performance rather than people management talent. Gallup asked German managers why they believed they were hired for their current role. 51% cited their expertise and tenure in the company or field. 47% believed their managerial status was due to their success in a previous non-managerial role. Just because an employee has strong technical skills does not mean they have the ability, training, or supportive environment to become effective managers that can contribute to employee willingness to engage.

Germany’s federal ministry of labor and social affairs recognizes the need for a cultural shift in the workplace. What could some of these solutions look like?

  1. Provide training and mentoring for managers: Create mentorship for managers with their leaders on factors proven to help increase employee engagement – recognition, trust, pride, and camaraderie. Measure, set targets, and hold managers accountable for their engagement.
  2. Make employees feel safe in expressing opinions and ideas: Foster trust by welcoming, listening, acting on employee feedback. Reward people for voicing innovative ideas. Encourage discussion between employees and regular one-on-one meetings between managers and their reports.
  3. Select managers based on leadership skills rather than subject-matter expertise: Identify and promote employees for leadership based on talent for engagement. Reassign managers who fail to understand the importance of facilitating engagement.
  4. Break down silos and hierarchical structures common in the German workplace: Recognize and reward cross-departmental collaboration. Set up communication channels that foster partnerships.

Regardless of the country we live in, our cultures have areas of strengths and weaknesses. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the common work cultures in your country? What kind of culture do you have in your workplace?

3 Characteristics of Superstar B-Players

by Lynette Silva

Brock Holt All-Star JerseyRecognize This! – Not everyone can be on the starting team, but the A-players wouldn’t achieve great success without a roster of strong B-players behind them.

I’m a Red Sox fan. I came by my fandom honestly – I married a diehard Red Sox fan in 2004, and so started watching Sox games in self-defense. (But what a year to start learning the game!) Lately, however, there’s not much joy in Red Sox nation. It’s been a crushingly brutal year.

The one bright spot we have to look forward to is the All-Star Game. (And not only because it gives us a break from watching the near-nightly tragedy unfold.) This year, the only representative from the Red Sox is Brock Holt, a utility player. For the uninitiated, that means Holt isn’t a “starter.” He comes in to cover nearly any position on the field when a teammate is injured or otherwise unable to play. In the lexicon of the typical workplace, Holt is “B-player.”

And that’s why (aside from my fandom) I’m excited to see Holt named to the All-Star team. He earned his slot there. Because whatever position he’s assigned to cover, he performs at top caliber, stepping into the shoes of the superstars and carrying forward with aplomb, grace, and excellence. And keep in mind, Holt isn’t a B-player because he lacks the abilities of an A-player (he has those skills in spades), he simply doesn’t have the spotlight or attention of the more glamorous role of starters on a Major League Baseball team.

I like how the Boston Globe put it:

“The All-Star nod was … an individual honor that happened to come because Holt was doing his job.

“‘I don’t really ever think of anything individually,’ Holt said. ‘I just go out and I play hard for my teammates and my coaches and if people notice that I’m out there doing well, that’s icing on the cake. Like I said, I’m just going to go out and try to play the game the right way and enjoy every second if it because a lot of people don’t get the opportunity that I have to be able to put on a major-league uniform every day — especially a Boston Red Sox uniform. So it’s pretty special to say that’s what you do. But to be selected to this All-star game is pretty cool.’”

What we have in Brock Holt is a superstar “B-player.” I’m willing to bet your organization is chock full of superstar B-players, too. How do you spot them? Look for these 3 traits:

  1. They jump on any opportunity given – Give them a shot at an interesting project or a boring-but-necessary exercise and they’ll leap at the opportunity to contribute.
  2. They deliver results – Completing the task assigned well is the goal, and they do it with a good attitude.
  3. They are committed to the success of the team – Superstar B-players typically aren’t glory hounds. They usually look out for the greater good.

Our challenge as leaders is ensuring B-players get the recognition, praise and appreciation they so richly deserve. Too often, our official recognition efforts are limited to the A-players, forgetting that the A-players can only continue to meet very-high expectations with a solid roster of Superstar B-Players right behind them.

Who are the Superstar B-Players on your team? How are they recognized and celebrated for their contributions and successes?

3 Lessons on the Power of Thanks on Vacation

by Lynette Silva

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

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

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

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

Phillies Baseball – “Jump Around”

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

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

Cleveland Museum of Art – “Teamwork”

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

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

Hotel Room TV – “The Profit”

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

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

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

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?

Compensation Cafe: Fair Pay, Differentiated Rewards

by Derek Irvine

Unbalanced beamRecognize This! — Differentiating recognition and rewards for top performers is critical while still allowing for all to participate in the opportunity to be recognized for work well done.

I intentionally stirred the compensation and recognition pot in my last post on Compensation Cafe. With a title like “An Argument for Unfair Pay,” I’m sure you can imagine the post received several insightful and detailed comments.

So, in my post yesterday on the Cafe, I took advantage of the very smart readers and fellow bloggers to showcase some of those comments and learnings. Click over for the details, but here’s a taste of thoughts around the appropriate balance between paying and recognizing people fairly while allowing for the differentiation necessary for the top performers:

  • Jacque Vilet: “Let them have access to high level management to discuss progress and to get help in removing any organizational barriers that are keeping them from solving the problem.”
  • Jim Brennan: The Pareto Principle still applies.
  • E. K. Torkornoo: “Keep them away from terrible managers, narcissistic leaders and distracting politics (to the extent possible); assign them to teams with others they respect, listen carefully and respond to them.
  • Ted Weinberger: I refer you to an article in Personnel Psychology 2012 on “The Best and the Rest: Revisting the Norm of Normality of Individual Differences” by O’Boyle and Aguinis for an academic discussion of this subject.”
  • Tony Bermann-Porter: The notion that you can provide meaningful performance differentiation with a 2-3% budget is fanciful.”

How do you differentiate for top performers?

Employee Appreciation Day Is EVERY Day

by Derek Irvine

Cheering groupRecognize This! – Appreciation is due every day, to everyone.

Today is officially “Employee Appreciation Day” – a day that frustrates me somewhat. The intent of the day is good and valid – remind managers to recognize and appreciate those on their teams. And yet, it more often highlights the sad fact that all too often recognition and appreciation is reserved for a special “day” or event.

This might not be “Employee Appreciation Day” in your organization. It’s more likely it’s the annual bonus event. When such events are structured, it gives managers an excuse to hold off on recognition until the prescribed date. Worse yet, such an approach reinforces the false notion that it is the responsibility of the manager alone to express appreciation and give praise.

Every employee in your organization owns the culture of the company. How they choose to behave and interact with each other and with customers every day dictates the culture and the daily employee experience. You have a choice if that is a passive culture or an intentional one directed towards proactive, positive praise from all employees to all employees. What’s a better approach? Consider this advice from Globoforce CEO Eric Mosley, shared in Inc. magazine:

“Companies should look at Employee Appreciation Day like it’s Valentine’s Day, or Mother’s or Father’s Day. The sentiments we share and the way we make others feel on those days is how we should act every day. In the same way, Employee Appreciation Day is a reminder of how companies should treat their employees all year long. The energy and happier-than-usual mood that bringing in breakfast or hosting an awards ceremony creates in an office will certainly be palpable, yet this can be done throughout the year. If Employee Appreciation Day is the only day companies recognize or appreciate their employees’ achievements, then they’re missing a big opportunity to engage and keep them happy.”

Think what kind of impact you might have if you were to gather your team together (or just chat with those in your local workgroup) and say, “Today is Employee Appreciation Day. Because I want to commit to you to do a better job of noticing and appreciating in a timely way the great work you do throughout the year, I’m not going to appreciate you today in a casual, ‘Hey, thanks!’ kind of way. Instead, I’m going to commit to telling you specifically, frequently and sincerely how you and your efforts, ideas and contributions have helped, inspired or excited me.”

That’s an entirely different scenario. Take today as an opportunity to change your habits around recognition going forward for years to come.

Who can you appreciate more sincerely, more specifically, more authentically?

 

Compensation Cafe: Millennials on the Market

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! — Career advancement can be perceived as only possible by changing organizations. Good leaders — and good cultures — give employees reasons to stay.

Recognition and retention are inextricably linked with each other. There is extensive research showing employees who do not feel noticed or valued are far more likely to leave for a workplace where they are. Blend this with the seemingly endless reports that Millennials are particularly likely to jump ship if they don’t feel praised, and it can seem like a bit of a firestorm on the topic with Millennials potentially targeted unfairly.

Why do I say “unfairly?” Yesterday on Compensation Cafe, I shared a recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (reported in the Washington Post), that shows how much you earn in the first 10 years of your career is a primary factor in determining your lifetime earnings.

This should give us all pause to consider are we giving our early-career employees enough opportunities to grow and develop? Are we compensating them commensurate with their increasing duties? Are we giving them enough reason to stay and build their careers in your organization?

Read the full post on Compensation Cafe, then come back and tell me, what else are we doing or should we be doing to make the current workplace nearly impossible to leave?

3 Principles to Help Everyone Give Their Best

by Lynette Silva

Casual gathering of business colleaguesRecognize This! – We all have a responsibility to pay attention, encourage and support our colleagues as we become excellent together.

Above and beyond – that’s a common theme for what types of employee contributions should be recognized. And it’s a good theme. This is so important to some of our clients that they’ve even branded their recognition programs “Above and Beyond.”

But what about “completely different?” Or “entirely outside of the job description?” Sometimes we recognize and reward these individuals, but all too often we punish them instead, forcing them back into the box and encouraging them to “just get the job done.”

And then there are people like Charles Clark, custodian at Trinity High School in Euless, TX. Featured in a recent CBS Sunday Morning story, Mr. Clark does his defined “job” very well. He is committed to providing a clean and comfortable environment for the students and faculty. But it’s his “extra” work that perhaps has the most lasting and profound impact.

Here’s the story (email subscribers, click through for the video):

Mr. Clark pays attention and watches out for the students that might need a little extra encouragement and guidance to stay on the right path. He serves as a counselor of sorts, one who the professional counselor on staff acknowledges is better than the pros at working with some of the students. And his results are outstanding. The students Mr. Clark targets for special attention tend to go on to graduate college.

The principles he applies to students work just as well with our colleagues. When applied thoughtfully, these principles can have profound impact on others.

  1. Pay attention – Mr. Clark gets his job done, but he also pays attention to those around him. He is intentional in looking for those who need bit more support. Then he actually gives it.
  2. Offer words of encouragement and support – Many of us know others who need additional support, but not all of us are willing to give up our own time to spend a few minutes to offer the recognition and help they may need. Often, kind words of praise and appreciation are all that’s needed.
  3. Seek out the good in others – Mr. Clark tends to reach out to the students who might be on the brink of “trouble” or seeking the wrong path, but he looks beyond that. He sees their potential and the good they have to offer. Think for a moment about your colleagues. Who are the most difficult to work with? Do you tend to avoid them because of their reputation? Now pause and rethink, what does that person do particularly well? How can you seek out ways to engage with them to benefit from their strengths? Praising others for their strengths is a powerful way to help them refocus on what matters most.

How can you be more intentional in noticing your colleagues and their efforts? How have words of encouragement from others helped you?

 

It Just Shouldn’t Be This Difficult! – Eliminating Barriers to Recognition

by Brenda Pohlman

Broken wall with "Thank You!"Recognize This! — Sharing appreciation and gratitude for others should be simple to encourage frequent, timely praise and recognition.

When was the last time you used a fax machine? I recently had the pleasure (ahem) of being re-acquainted with this office equipment fixture of old while trying to execute a recognition moment of sorts. I wanted to do a nice thing for a co-worker on behalf of our team. It was intended as a small gesture – nothing elaborate, nothing designed to convey serious feedback or emotion, just a simple acknowledgement. It should’ve been soooo easy.

We were attending our annual company holiday celebration with our guests, and my colleague, who was bringing her husband (known to most of us as ‘Mr. Wonderful’ by the way), planned to stay the evening at the hotel party venue as a little overnight getaway. It would be a well-deserved break in the midst of a very busy time at work as well as personal circumstances our teammate had faced this Fall. We decided to surprise the two of them with a basket of treats delivered to their room as a show of support. But it proved to be much easier in thought than execution.

I coordinated the details with the hotel, credit card at the ready to pay over the phone. The hotel wouldn’t take it. Payment authorization was required in advance, involving a cumbersome form filled out and returned to them immediately….via fax. I protested, “But it’s just cookies and brownies. I’ll be there in a few hours and can show my credit card in person. I’m connected to the company that’s hosting its big party there tonight.” Nope. No form means no cookie delivery.

Our receptionist looked up our fax number so the hotel could send the form (who has such things memorized anymore and why was email not an option)?. I eventually received it after three trips across the office to check. Hours passed as I went from meeting to meeting, and eventually I got a call from the hotel looking for my completed form and reminding me “no form, no cookie delivery.” I scrambled as the old familiar fax machine challenges came back to me. Dial 9 first or not? Document face up or face down? And alas, an error message. In my head I heard, “No form, no cookies.” Aaargh! A colleague came by, saw me struggling, and asked what I was doing after some teasing about the passé nature of the experience. I blurted out, “I’m just trying to do something nice for someone! It shouldn’t be this hard!”

Eliminate Barriers to Recognition

We encounter companies all the time who have inadvertently constructed barriers to recognition – things that make recognition more difficult than it needs to be, steps and rules that make well-intentioned employees feel hassled by the experience of simply trying to do something meaningful for a co-worker. These barriers rarely serve any legitimate business purpose at all. They’re hold-outs from old school recognition programs that don’t align with the goals and ambitions of today’s initiatives and modern programs. In my ‘nice gesture gone bad’ example here, all the jumping through hoops was supposed to be for my own protection, as the hotel put it.

Things That Make Recognition Harder Than It Should Be:

  • Cumbersome nomination processes, where employees are required to complete lengthy forms to recommend a colleague for recognition (Formal recognition should take as little as 60 seconds).
  • Slow selection or approval processes. We’ve seen systems where committees of HR and business leaders meet quarterly to choose winners for $100 awards! (48-hour award approvals at most – by one or two managers -is ideal).
  • Eligibility rules that prohibit employees from recognizing others directly themselves, forcing them to ask a manager to place a nomination on their behalf instead (Peer-to-peer nomination eligibility is the #1 most powerful way to breakdown barriers to recognition).
  • Recognition systems that aren’t accessible to offline populations or are entirely manual (Mobile apps and computer kiosks are the best hassle-free work-arounds for offline employees).
  • Partial eligibility where some locations or business units are eligible to participate in the recognition program and some are not. These rules can leave employees guessing or force them to investigate a co-worker’s eligibility status (Company-wide participation in a centralized program conveys a simple and inclusive message about recognition).
  • A lack of structure. In the absence of guidelines and tools, many employees will simply do nothing (Elimination of bureaucracy is good, but recognition is not likely to be prevalent in your environment without some rules and systems).

These barriers can be the root cause of a recognition program manager’s worst nightmare – the employee who is inspired to recognize a colleague, makes a decision to take action, seeks out the system or process to do so, and then gives up when faced with daunting administrative red tape. Recognition must be fluid and easy. Otherwise, it can feel inauthentic and meaningless at best, or nonexistent at worst.

As we come into a new year, make a commitment to create an easier, more natural recognition experience at your organization. Find ways to overcome those obstacles that leave your would-be recognizers feeling frustrated and uninspired. In other words, let those barriers go the way of the fax machine.

Start by choosing one recognition barrier to eliminate. Which would you eliminate first?

 

 

 

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