by Derek Irvine
2015 has been a whirlwind year of exciting launches and new beginnings. As we look forward to 2016, I’m pausing to look back at some favorite 2015 RecognizeThis! posts and the memories they spark.
WorkHuman – the highlight of my year. This movement marks a watershed in how we think and talk about people in the workplace. In a WorkHuman world, we focus more on the people doing the work, how they are organized and come together to achieve a shared mission, emphasizing the role of employee wellbeing, purpose, and happiness. As part of that, I had the privilege of serving as emcee of the first WorkHuman event, leading to this post:
As I shared in the kick-off of WorkHuman, the opposite of saying “thanks” is saying nothing at all. It’s having the opportunity to communicate to someone how much they and their efforts are appreciated and valued, but choosing not to. Saying nothing when thanks are deserved is like carbon monoxide seeping through your home. What’s unseen and unheard can be deadly to your culture.
(Did you miss the excitement? Join us for WorkHuman 2016.)
2015 also saw the launch of our newest book, The Power of Thanks. A guideline for structuring powerful, positive cultures of recognition, it also serves as a reminder of our own personal roles in promoting thankfulness – at work and at home. These two posts are excellent reminders of the power of thanks to us all.
I’ve noticed that being immersed in a culture of recognition has turned me into a far more appreciative person in all aspects of my life, at work and at home. It’s impossible to train yourself to pick up your head out of your own little world to notice the efforts and contributions of others at work and then not do the same at home, too. Often, without realizing it, I’m far more complimentary of the people I interact with as I go about life – grocery store cashiers and personal friends, gas station attendants and family members – who they are doesn’t matter so much as the humanity they represent. We are all built needing to hear praise and appreciation from others. I’m just glad I’ve learned skills to do that better.
This line did leave me wondering, though, about the words we use to recognize others. Despite being a fixture in our lexicon, “good job” alone hardly qualifies as bona fide recognition. So, while not the most harmful two words in the English language, maybe in the most literal and generic sense “good job” isn’t really quite good enough at all. Recognition should be impactful and memorable and leave the recipient with a positive connection between the words spoken or written and their own actions. Overused and vague phrases alone like “good job” or “thanks for everything” or “congrats on your success” with no substance don’t quite fit the bill.
And that’s the crux of the lessons from 2015 – it’s all about our relationships with others that make us more effective, happier and productive in what we do. These last posts bring that message forward powerfully.
Clearly, our peers are fundamental to how we get the work done. Yet all too often, peers and their observations are ignored or lessened in an employee recognition experience. Managers are given the opportunity to share their appreciation, which is valuable and very important, too, of course. But let’s not ignore both the power of peers and their more direct insight into their colleagues’ contributions and achievements.
A recent client scorecard on recognition program activity highlighted key learnings as they’ve achieved a milestone in social recognition availability. We see these key learnings across customers as they are fundamental for most any company to achieve their own ambitions for recognition. Here they are as reported by our customer along with my own additional comments.
- “Building a culture of daily recognition and appreciation doesn’t happen overnight. [Our recognition program] puts the power of thanks into the hands of our employees (or into their mobile devices).”
- “[Recognition program] adoption, as measured by unique nominators and unique recipients, is highest when senior leaders express, model, and reinforce the importance of recognition. When senior leaders use [the recognition program] to recognize employees, we see increased usage.”
- “Senior leaders who have used [the recognition program] to recognize employees have been surprised and amazed to receive heartfelt thank-you responses.”
- Communication is key to success. When we use well-placed messaging, we see an immediate increase in [recognition program] usage.
And finally, my deepest appreciation and thanks to you, our readers of RecognizeThis!, for your added comments and thoughts that make this endeavour a two-way sharing of knowledge. My best wishes for a wonderful 2016 to all.
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.