Posts Tagged "recognition’

Compensation Cafe: Employee Engagement and Incentives Compensation

by Derek Irvine

Compensation CafeRecognize This! – Employees choose to give more and behave in desired ways based on the environment they are being asked to engage in.

Employee Engagement Is Dead! Long Live Employee Engagement!

What sounds like a non-sequitur may not be. Last week on Compensation Cafe I blogged: “Is Employee Engagement Moot in Today’s High Stress Work Environments?” in which I reflected on the seeming stagnation of employee engagement stats in the research across many organizations. I argue:

No, the error lies in how we are pursuing employee engagement. Yes, employee engagement is a two-way street. Employees must themselves choose to engage in the work, but employers must also offer conditions in which employees would want to engage. That’s where we’ve fallen down.

What must change? It’s time to go back to basics. Why should employees choose to engage in the organization’s greater mission, purpose, and goals and give additional discretionary effort to achieve them if (1) compensation is not equal to market rates or is insufficient to cover basic living needs, (2) the work environment is itself unsupportive or downright abusive, and (3) essential human needs of rest, restoration and the ability to meet the needs of the whole person are ignored.

Read the post for more on the backing research and how to change those three factors to improve employee engagement.

Then today, I blogged “The Tricky Business of Incentive Compensation,” examining research on when and how incentives can motivate, given the typically low performance of such schemes. As I unpack in the post:

What they found was that incentives largely worked… but only for certain people and in certain circumstances… If companies are primarily concerned with behavior that aligns to performance, shifting focus away from pre-designated incentives structures towards “surprise” programs that can recognize and otherwise reinforce those behaviors may be a valuable path forward. For example, if managers are recognized and publicly celebrated for a willingness to take risks like those mentioned above, the signal may be that much stronger for others to overcome that initial sense of inertia.

Again, click over for the full post.

Mapping Out Employee Accountability

by Derek Irvine

Map in handRecognize This! — Accountability requires a clear mental map for achieving results. Recognition enables everyone to share that same map.

“How do I get my people to be more accountable for results?” is the essential question from a recent post over at Harvard Business Review. It’s the kind of question that usually follows some type of failure at work. Someone misses a project deadline or comes in over budget. Forecasted performance goals go unmet.

A single failure can be frustrating enough; resolving more systemic issues of accountability across a team or organization can be daunting for managers and executives.

I suspect systemic accountability problems actually have to do with a lack of clarity and coherence. The former almost certainly drives the latter. In the absence of clarity, everyone can work from their own sets of rules about what outcomes are expected and how those commitments are followed through. No one shares the same mental map of the workplace and the way priorities and tasks are achieved.

Clarity even precedes the usual accountability suspects that leaders may point to: employee competence and motivation. Without shared ideas of appropriate outcomes and success metrics, these attributes just aren’t going to be much of a factor. If no one is using the same map, it will nearly be impossible to differentiate who is making progress in the desired direction, let alone what is driving that progress.

Developing a Shared Map of Accountability

The critical task facing leadership is to create and foster this shared map, either as a standalone culture of accountability or by weaving accountability throughout the organization’s core values. The map must clarify the following:

  • Destination: what outcomes are sought and how you know when you are there
  • Trip Planning: what resources are required and what happens if outcomes are not achieved
  • Route Updates: continuous feedback along the way to monitor progress, as well as keep teams and organizations aligned

There are several possible ways to achieve this depending on the specifics of your own organization and its culture, but one potential universal approach is through a culture of recognition. Here’s why.

A Recognition-driven Map

Recognition goes a long way in helping to develop a shared Destination. Leaders can recognize behaviors that drive results and demonstrate accountability. These behaviors provide an organization with vivid and specific examples of what success looks like and how to get there. They are powerful examples that all employees can share and learn from, developing their own repertoires of similar results-focused behaviors.

Recognition can also be used to highlight examples of Trip Planning. Examples include employees that go above and beyond in securing resources to meet important deadlines, or take initiative to deliver on commitments in the face of unanticipated obstacles. Again, recognition of these behaviors provides a shared repertoire of behaviors that align everyone behind accountability.

Finally, providing Route Updates, recognition is immediate and frequent. It allows leaders to monitor progress as well as quickly adapt to changes, particularly where peer-to-peer recognition is leveraged. This benefit limits the potential for derailing surprises and allows everyone to behave more proactively. Leaders can also gain insight into patterns of accountability across people, departments, and divisions, rewarding or intervening as necessary.

Altogether, recognition helps to create the shared maps that drive accountability, and as result, business performance. When everyone is aligned behind a common idea of what is expected and how success is measured, as well as creative responses to unforeseen challenges, accountability can become a competitive advantage.

What is your organization’s accountability map? How widely is it shared and recognized?

The Connecting Power of Gratitude

by Lynette Silva

Post-it note reading "express your gratitude"Recognize This! – We have the power to increase our own feelings of gratitude and happiness.

It’s the US season of Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday of the year. Give me an excuse to eat too much and then nap in the afternoon, and I’m on board! I kid. I love Thanksgiving because the point of the day is to reflect on all that you are grateful for and, if possible, express that gratitude to others.

Sure, it feels good to reflect in this way, and a good deal of research shows how gratitude gives far more than it gets.

See this study referenced in the University of California, Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center:

A team at the University of Southern California has shed light on the neural nuts and bolts of gratitude in a new study, offering insights into the complexity of this social emotion and how it relates to other cognitive processes…

The researchers found that grateful brains showed enhanced activity in two primary regions: the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). These areas have been previously associated with emotional processing, interpersonal bonding and rewarding social interactions, moral judgment, and the ability to understand the mental states of others…

In other words, gratitude isn’t merely about reward—and doesn’t just show up in the brain’s reward center. It involves morality, connecting with others, and taking their perspective.

Gratitude is a connecting emotion, a bridge between us and others that helps us understand and bond with others more deeply. Perhaps more importantly, gratitude makes us want to connect with others in a more genuine and giving way. Embracing gratitude opens us to up to a much greater, richer world of experiences with others. And that itself is indeed something to be grateful for.

And this is just one study along these lines. Darcy Jacobsen shared 10 recent gratitude studies earlier this week. These two are my favorites:

  • A 2015 study published in the International Business Research journal showed that collective gratitude is important for organizations. Among other things, said researchers, gratitude can reduce turnover intention, foster employees’ organizational commitment, lead to positive organizational outcomes, and help in “eliminating the toxic workplace emotions, attitudes and negative emotions such as envy, anger and greed in today’s highly competitive work environment.”
  • A 2014 study of Chinese workers found that gratitude has a positive impact on trust between managers and their direct reports. Gratitude, said researchers, positively influenced the relationship between subordinates’ sense of being trusted, their performance, and their satisfaction.

Ways to Practice Gratitude

Studies are all well and good, but how can we incorporate gratitude more directly into our lives? It starts with making a daily practice of it. Even pausing for a moment before going to sleep each night to think of one thing you are grateful for helps increase your own experience of gratitude.

Happiness and positivity expert Shawn Achor cites expressing gratitude daily by deliberately writing or saying thank you to express appreciation for what you have as a primary means of increasing personal well-being. (Join us at WorkHuman 2016 to hear more from Shawn directly as well other acclaimed management authors and speakers.)

This year, use Thanksgiving as a way to kick off a new resolution – each day think of three things you are grateful for and express your appreciation and gratitude to others.

What are you grateful for?

Compensation Cafe: Top 5 Reasons for Bad Days at Work

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! — Bad days at work are inevitable, but can be reduced and impact lessened through support, recognition and positivity.

In my Compensation Cafe post earlier this week, I shared the results of a global employee survey conducted by Woohoo, Inc., on bad days a work – what causes them, who experiences them more, what can be done about it and why we should care.

Here are the top answers in response to the question, “The last time you had a bad day at work, which factors in the workplace made it bad?”

  1. A lack of help and support from my boss (40%)
  2. Negative coworkers (39%)
  3. Lack of praise or recognition for the work I do (37%)
  4. Uncertainty about the workplace’s vision and strategy (37%)
  5. Busyness / high work load (36%)

I’m not surprised by any of these statements, and we can’t ignore the impact of these sentiments. As I say in my post on Compensation Cafe:

“The ROI factor involved in reducing the number of “bad days” experienced by employees is not insignificant. Simply by helping employees balance their workload and recognizing them when their efforts contribute to achieving the company strategy and vision, bosses convey their support and help employees see the positive and important impact they have on organization success. Better yet, enable all employees to recognize and appreciate those they see doing great work. The act of recognition has as much positive impact on the giver as on the receiver and is a tremendous influence to overcome persistent negativity.”

I encourage you to read my full summary post as well as the full survey results from Woohoo.

Bersin Says “Thanks” Critical for Employee Engagement

by Derek Irvine

Thank you speech bubblesRecognize This! — There are many drivers of employee engagement, but feedback, recognition and “thanks” lead the charge.

In my last two posts on Compensation Cafe, I shared important research from IBM Smarter Workforce (more on that later this week) and from Bersin by Deloitte. Both are important, detailed pieces of research and so I will be calling more attention to them here.

First up, Josh Bersin authored the research piece “Becoming irresistible: A new model for employee engagement,” which appeared in Issue 16 of the Deloitte Review. This is the new model based on deep research and analysis of organizations across industries:

DR16_irresistibleorganization

In Becoming Irresistible, Bersin says about recognition:

“A second key engagement driver is the need for continuous and ongoing recognition. As soft as it seems, saying “thank you” is an extraordinary tool to building an engaged team. We studied this topic and found that “high-recognition companies” have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover than companies with poor recognition cultures.36 These companies build a culture of recognition through social reward systems (tools that give people points or kudos to reward to others), weekly or monthly thank-you activities, and a general culture of appreciating everyone from top to bottom. The key to success here is to create a social environment where recognition can flow from peer to peer, freeing managers from being the judge and jury of employee recognition.”

Then Bersin expanded on the ideas presented in Becoming Irresistible in a very detailed article in Forbes“Employee Feedback Is the Killer App: A New Market Emerges.” Here he says:

If feedback is the killer app, then ‘thanks’ is the gorilla in the market. When you unleash the ability for people to easily say ‘thanks’ to their peers (and give them points or other rewards), an enormous new network of information often starts to flow. Leaders can suddenly see important people who they may never have noticed, and the culture of helping others can start to grow and improve.

“Our research also found that saying ‘thank you’ is an important part of building strong employee engagement. Many companies tell me that these tools unleash enormous amounts of positive energy and can help people understand even better who and why certain behaviors and people are valued highly.”

I believe this to be a dichotomy of management and a true blind spot — those things we consider easy or obvious, we tend to ignore or subsume. Yet simply saying “thank you” is one of the most powerful means we have to communicate to someone, “I see you. I see the work you do. What you contribute has great value, meaning and purpose, and you do it well.” Truly, there is nothing “simple” in that kind of statement. It is at the heart of what good managers do. Or, to once again quote Bersin from Becoming Irresistible:

It is important for companies to remember that management’s job is not to manage work but rather to develop, coach, and help people.”

And isn’t that the heart of what it means to WorkHuman, too?

What’s the “killer app” in your management toolkit?

Can You Confidently Answer the 4 Basic Performance Management Questions?

by Derek Irvine

4 Question Marks and ConversationsRecognize This! — Wanting to know we’re doing the right things at work is at the heart of performance management – and that’s a good thing.

With the recent news around Accenture and GE replacing their traditional performance review process with more frequent, timely feedback from multiple sources, it seemed Kismet when Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce, had his article “Creating an Effective Peer Review System” appear in Harvard Business Review this week.

Eric shares key elements to create, maintain and support a successful real-time peer review program. Click through for the full article for details on each of the below, including examples from top companies who have applied these lessons. (Quoting below):

  • Reflect on core values. Ensure that the metrics on which people are recognized are aligned with your company’s mission.
  • Embrace new technology. Pick a program that is intuitive, easy to use, fun, interactive, engaging, and fully mobile.
  • Explain and celebrate the launch. Position the program as a change designed to help recognize and celebrate employees, and not a new way to monitor or judge them.
  • Get everyone on board. Managers and leaders need to be early adopters.
  • Encourage frequent, timely recognition. Sooner is better when it comes to promoting desired behavior.
  • Empower managers to track results. Give managers access to detailed, real-time, easily actionable reports on recognition activity, correlated to key business goals.

Performance management is necessary, and even desirable. We all want to know:

  1. Am I doing the right things?
  2. Are my contributions helpful to others?
  3. Should I be focusing elsewhere?
  4. Am I adding value?

Helping employees answer those questions is the essence of performance management. Better yet is how GE frames the discussion in terms of coaching. Per this summary of GE’s new approach:

“There’s an emphasis on coaching throughout, and the tone is unrelentingly positive. The [performance development] app forces users to categorize feedback in one of two forms: To continue doing something, or to consider changing something.”

That’s the power of positive reinforcement through coaching people towards more of what you want to see again and away from detractors.

Are you confident in your own answers to the 4 basic performance management questions above?

A Master Class in Recognition Messages from The Daily Show

by Lynette Silva

Daily Show with Jon StewartRecognize This! – Great messages of recognition require details about the meaningful and long-lasting impact the recipient has had on the giver.

Though I usually catch it in replays, The Daily Show is one of my favorite TV shows. I appreciate how it consistently captures the news of the moment, often tackling very uncomfortable subjects with humor, shining a spotlight into sometimes dark and ugly areas that we should be examining more closely.

But this blog isn’t about me extolling the virtues of my favorite shows (and aren’t you lucky our editor wouldn’t let me get away with that anyway). This blog is about sharing best practices, guidance and principles for thoughtful, meaningful and impactful social recognition. And that’s where Stephen Colbert’s send off for Jon Stewart on last night’s Daily Show episode comes in.

Watch the clip below (and apologies for the ad), then my thoughts after the jump. (Email readers, click through for the video.)

The Daily Show Daily Show Full Episodes, More Daily Show Videos, Comedy Central Full Episodes

Why do I call this a master class in recognition messages? Because Stephen hits all the essential elements of a truly impactful, meaningful and memorable message of appreciation:

  • What Jon did – his actions and behaviors – that are deserving of appreciation
  • The long-lasting impact those efforts had on others
  • Lots of specific details to remind Jon of the moments that mattered most

Stephen’s message, in part, was:

“You said to me and to many other people here years ago never to thank you because we owe you nothing. This is one of the few times that I’ve known you to be dead wrong. We owe you because we learned from you. We learned from you by example how to do a show with intention, how to work with clarity, how to treat people with respect. You are infuriatingly good at your job, OK?”

One other aspect to note in the video – the virtuous circle of appreciation started by Jon saying “thank you” to all his collaborators over the years, prompting Stephen’s message of returned appreciation, followed by a huge pile-on of hugs and thanks. That’s the nature of well expressed, well intentioned recognition. It continues to feed on itself, spreading ever outward and engulfing others in the experience of gratitude and praise.

What’s one of the best messages of appreciation you’ve received?

WorkHuman Wednesday: Catch Someone Doing Something Good

by Traci Pesch

Cop Eating Breakfast with Homeless Gentleman

Image Credit: TiAnna Greene Facebook

Recognize This! – We all have the power to foster positivity through simple acts of praise and appreciation.

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind vacation with many wonderful new memories created with my family. Vacations are ideal for the opportunity to refresh, rejuvenate and reconnect on a deep and meaningful level with those we love the most. They are also terrific for the ability to just disconnect from the usual daily reality for a while.

That disconnection from what we usually see and experience makes it easier, I think, to spot things we might not normally be looking for. We have different eyes, seeking to see different things. And that’s good. It’s the unexpected that stands out, that sticks with us. Seth Godin commented on his blog:

“The unexpected praise or apology, the one that comes out of the blue, can change everything. It’s easier than ever to reach out and speak up. Sad, then, how rarely we do it when it’s not expected.”

With that in mind, I wanted to call attention to this story in the news about police treatment of those in powerless situations:

“TiAnna Greene was taking her daughter to summer camp one recent morning when she witnessed an act of kindness that took her breath away. While stopped at a traffic light, she saw a Florida police officer sit down on a street curb next to a homeless man and hand him some food and a cup of coffee.

“‘What really caught my attention was the fact she then pulled out food for herself and started to eat with him. She just seemed very, very comfortable,’ Greene said. ‘I got my phone out and started snapping pictures because I was so overjoyed by the interaction.’

“Greene posted the photos on her Facebook page, wanting to share with friends the stranger’s kind act, something ‘that seemed to come naturally for her,’ she said. The post went viral.”

Ms. Greene caught someone (Sgt. Erica Hay) in the act of doing something good. She took a moment to praise Hay’s actions and share that with others. In the process, many others were inspired by the act of kindness. (In fact, Ms. Greene and Sgt. Hay have developed a friendship, according to the article.)

That’s the Power of Thanks, the power of pausing for a moment in our own busy-ness to notice the great work and acts of kindness of others, praise them for it, and share that praise with others. These are the basic tenets of social recognition – notice, recognize, share – and the basis for fostering positivity in groups small and large.

Today, take a moment to “catch someone doing something good.” Who deserves praise in your circle?

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 mentoring opportunities 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?