“How” We Work as Important as “What” We Accomplish

Recognize This! – Focusing only on the “what” (results) can lead to unintended consequences.

Kevin Kruse (author of Employee Engagement 2.0) recently presented in Forbes the idea of Feedforward. Instead of constantly looking back once a year at what an employee did (or didn’t do), new performance systems should be looking forward with continuous coaching and refined goal setting.

Indeed, we should be much more focused on “how” employees get the work done and less on “what” they do, especially with how we recognize and reward employees. This is a core component of strategic, social recognition – focusing on how well employees “live” your values in their daily work. And aren’t your core values the most accurate definition of the “how” you want work to be accomplished?

Laurie Ruettimann, author of the “Cynical Girl” blog and frequent speaker on all things HR, recently told this story in her blog:

My colleague, Lizzie, is out on her honeymoon. She left our team a list of things to do while she is out.

Then she called and said, “I suck, Laurie. My job can be distilled down to seventeen things.”

And I said, “Yeah, and the intern can do most of them.”

Dang. I’m a stone cold boss.

But then I told her — that’s the modern economy. It’s not what you do, necessarily, but how you do it. We didn’t hire Lizzie because she is a robot. And I don’t care if there are 17 things or 200 things for her to do each day.

We hired her to do whatever needs to be done — and to do it well.

We all have the list of what we do. The more important question is: Do we know as well how all those things should be done?

What are the important “hows” in your job? How do you know?

Derek Irvine

About Derek Irvine

The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.

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  1. […] every employee knows the goals and how to achieve them is through frequent, timely and specific recognition for their contributions towards achieving the […]

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