Rules of Engagement: “How,” Not “How Much”

Recognize This! – Helping employees make a connection between their work and the success of the organization is critical to employee engagement.

I’m often asked questions like, “Derek, what do you think is the key to effective employee recognition?”

The answer, frankly, depends on the situation of the organization and person asking. But one answer that is true across all situations is this: Focus on the How, not just the What.

By that, I mean be sure you are recognizing how employees are achieving their goals (preferably, how they are demonstrating your core values and desired behaviors) while they are achieving what you need them to accomplish.

Dov Seidman in Forbes put this another way when discussing results of research he shared more fully in his book How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything.

“Once again, we’ve been applying a ‘how much’ solution to a ‘HOW’ problem…

“This is a Eureka moment for employee engagement: we’ve cracked the code on what truly inspires employees. The source of engagement has nothing to do with breaking bread (or bread sticks) and everything to do with the extent to which trust, values and mission actually inspire and drive daily activities and interactions…

“When trust, values and a purpose-driven mission exist to a statistically significant degree and guide leadership, decision-making and behavior, these ‘enablers’ give rise to a highly inspired group of super-engaged employees.

“The analysis also tells us that when trust, values and a purpose-inspired mission do not drive behavior in a company, far fewer of these engagement traits exist. Even worse, extremely low levels of these engagement sources produce a ‘disconnected’ group of employees who work against or even sabotage company objectives.”

This dives back into the discussion around recognition gone wrong and poor employee recognition program examples. It doesn’t matter how many pizza lunches or birthday cakes you provide if you are not doing the far more important things – recognizing individuals and teams who live your values while achieving your mission.

This is critical to recognition program success and, more importantly, creating  a culture of recognition, because it connects your mission and values with the daily work of the employee. It helps employees understand in very concrete terms how their daily work contributes in a valuable, meaningful way to the success of the team, department and company as a whole.

Does your organization focus too much on the “how much” or the “what” and not enough on the “how?”

Earlier Rules of Engagement Posts:

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.

3 Responses

  1. […] patterns of behavior we haven’t yet noticed.” This is particularly powerful in terms of employee behaviors related to what we say is most important to our organizations – our core […]

  2. […] patterns of behavior we haven’t yet noticed.” This is particularly powerful in terms of employee behaviors related to what we say is most important to our organizations – our core […]

  3. […] 6. Begin or End each staff meeting with a positive result within your immediate office or somewhere else in the company. Link this positive result to three or four specific employee behaviors. […]

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