Archive for the "Books" Category

The Power of Thanks * 33Voices Interview

by Derek Irvine

Cover of Power of Thanks BookRecognize This! — Thanks and appreciation are powerful because the expression of thanks requires acknowledgement of the actions, achievements, behaviors and contributions of others.

One of my greatest professional pleasures in 2014 was collaborating again with Globoforce CEO Eric Mosley to write The Power of Thanks. Recently, I was honored to be asked to share more about the book with Moe Abdou, founder of 33Voices, a website dedicated to “a global conversation about things that matter in business and in life.”

Throughout the 30-minute conversation, Moe and I discussed why simple but heartfelt and sincere messages of thanks do carry such immense power – to the person receiving those thanks, of course, but also to the person giving them. Click through on the links below for more information:

A few highlights from the interviews:

  • Money may get your team to show up to work, but it’s the psychological contract that will ignite the best in them. Remember that the most important of human needs is appreciation.
  • If you find yourself constantly talking about your culture, seeking to teach people about it, talking culture at your people rather than pointing it out over and over as its happening, it should be clear that the culture you want isn’t fully part of your company.
  • The glue to your social recognition program is your community. Celebrate and promote its value, but don’t neglect the wisdom you gain from the rich pool of data it reveals.

When was the last time you took a moment to deliberately and specifically thank someone? When were you last thanked yourself?



Are You in Need of a Work-Life Reset?

by Lynette Silva

Book Cover: Work-Life ResetRecognize This! – Work-life balance is a myth, but we can learn to blend work and life through purpose, positivity and possibilities.

Rounding out my book review posts for the author panel I’ll be leading at WorkHuman is Work-Life Reset, by Fawn Germer. When we think about what it really means to “WorkHuman” we must always include the reality of the person’s life outside of work. I like Derek Irvine’s concept of work-life blending instead of balance as balance implies work on one end of the spectrum with life on the other and a constant struggle to get the two to balance out. Work-life blending, on the other hand, acknowledges the reality that we bring our work experiences and interactions home with us, just as we bring our families and personal needs into the workplace.

Fawn tackles many of these ideas in her latest book, defining “reset” this way: “Reset is all about taking back the power you’ve lost, whether it was due to adversity or personal resignation. Reset is reclaiming your energy, joy, verve, hope, direction and essence.”

I’m enamored of the idea of how we “take back that power” at work and at home – how we “claim joy” and all that comes with it in both environments. I found several themes woven throughout Fawn’s book on precisely how we do that. Let me share those themes with you.

Finding Purpose – We all have a purpose in this life. It’s discovering our purpose and finding joy in it that’s the trick. Here’s Fawn’s perspective on that work-life blend:

“Your purpose on this earth is to develop as a human being. Love your work, enjoy every possible aspect of it, but don’t let it consume your opportunity to develop on a deeper human level… We don’t get spiritual points for being good at our jobs – we get points for being good at our role in humanity.”

Of course we must be good at our jobs or we won’t have them for very long. But it’s how we WorkHuman at our jobs that helps us fulfill our purpose. That’s where the real value – to ourselves and to others – lies.

Overcoming the Fear of Failure to Embrace the Possibilities – We will all fail. It’s part of the human experience. What we choose do with that failure is what defines us, personally. Avoiding failure or living in fear of it at best keeps us from achieving our true potential and at worst traps us in horrible situations. It’s putting aside the fear to embrace possibilities that brings us fulfillment. Fawn says:

“Life really is an out-of-control experience- if you’re living it right. If you hang on tightly, trying to ensure a positive outcome at every turn, you are never in the discomfort zone long enough to learn what you’re really made of. You are missing the downside, where you swing and miss and suffer for it. You’re also missing the upside, where you grow into a stronger, smarter and deeper person…

“But the biggest excuse for inertia is fear. Legions of people will endure endless abuses at work or in relationships because they are frozen in place, afraid that they won’t be wanted elsewhere or won’t be able to be successful in another environment.”

Happiness and Positivity Is a Choice – Life is not always good or easy. Yet even in the toughest of times, our own outlook and reaction is very much a personal choice. Per Fawn:

“Having money or having everything you ever wanted does not fix what is already wrong within you. If you can’t be happy with your current set of problems, you probably won’t be happy with the next set of problems, either – unless you make a mental shift and decide it is time to be happy…

“People who choose positivity create a very different reality from those who always look for what is wrong. We can influence our experience by having a good attitude.”

I take this one step further. I believe we have a responsibility to reinforce positivity for others. In true WorkHuman environments, this can be quite easy. It’s as simple as pausing to recognize and appreciate others, to proactively tell them, “I see you. I notice the great work you do. You are a valuable and important part of our team and what we do. Thank you.”

Additional Panel Participant Posts

Overcoming the “Overwhelm” – A Book Review and Encouragement in the Midst of “Busy”

by Lynette Silva

Overwhelmed Book coverRecognize This! – Trying to do more, better, faster actually leads to accomplishing less, at lower quality. Finding true balance between work, love and play makes us all more productive, happy, and healthy.

I can’t remember the last “business” book that made me ride a roller-coaster of emotion as I read, unable to put it down. That’s precisely how Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time (written by award-winning Washington Post journalist Brigid Schulte) made me feel. From the anxious pit-in-my-stomach feeling reading the research on how we got to this stage of “overwhelm” in our lives, to fury over how our society actually condones and encourages such a state, to hope that we can change to make work-life balance real for all of us, Overwhelmed not only made me evaluate my own emotions towards work and life, but it also brought to the surface for me many of my own shortcomings, oversights and inter-dependencies.

So, what is the state of “overwhelm?” It’s constantly living in a state of needing to do “just one more thing,” be “just a little bit better,” do more, help more, achieve more… more, more, more.

I think that’s a state many feel today, though Brigid makes the excellent argument it can be worse in the U.S. than elsewhere in the world because of how we’ve structured work to cater to the myth of the ideal worker and the home to cater to the equally insidious myth of the ideal mother. Why are these myths so terrible? It’s impossible for anyone to live up to these ideals because they are ideals and not reality. As Brigid says, “There will never be equality at home until there’s equality in the workplace, until we redefine the ideal worker.” – This is why we need a complete recalibration of how we work and therefore how we play. Indeed, we’ve never needed more the idea of “WorkHuman.”

Near the end of the book, Brigid relates a key lesson derived from extensive research:

“Meaningful work can be done without working all hours and sacrificing yourself, your family, or your life. Giving workers control and predictability over their schedules can lead to productivity and profits. Vacation and rest can make you a better worker and a happier person.”

Overwhelmed is a well-written, compelling, research- and story-driven book that kept me hooked from the opening page. I encourage you, in the midst of your potential own overwhelmed state, to take a few hours and read the wisdom here. If you do nothing else, read the Appendix: Do One Thing. In it, Brigid offers bullet-point lists in the categories of work, love and play to help step out of the overwhelm, one thing at a time.

What overwhelms you?


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).

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)

5 Reasons Surprise Matters (and how to embrace it)

by Lynette Silva

Cover of Book "Surprise"Recognize This! – Surprises happens. Our connections with others help us better enjoy the good surprises and weather the bad ones.

I love my job. I know I’m lucky I get to say that. Why do I love my job? Lots of reasons, but at the top of the list is the people I get to work with every day – both my colleagues at Globoforce and the customers who enrich every project I’m involved in. It’s those intimate connections with people and what we learn, do and achieve together that make work fun.

That’s why I’m excited about the upcoming WorkHuman conference. (June 8-10, in Orlando, FL. Register here and use code DIBLOG100for a $100 discount.) The entire event is all about how we can all love our work when we learn to appreciate and respect each other in positive ways to build deeper and stronger connections. I’m honored to lead one of the panel discussions: “Unexpected Innovations: Changing How We Think about a Human Workplace.” The panel will showcase four of the speakers/authors, giving us a chance to unpack in more detail their thoughts around important concepts in a WorkHuman workplace – Surprise/Happiness; Romance/Meaning; Play/Productivity; and Failure/Risk-Taking. (Check out more information on many of these sessions in this post: 8 Upcoming Talks You’d Be Crazy to Miss. Seriously.)

As I prepare for the session, I’m absorbing their books. There is so much wisdom and insight I’d like to share with you. So for the next four weeks, I’ll be sharing a book review from each author. First up, Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected by Tania Luna and Leann Renninger, PhD. I greatly enjoyed this book and took away many personal life learnings.

1) Embracing Surprise Is Important – Surprise is, in a way, all about giving up control. About allowing yourself to be in a place where you can be surprised and to experience wonder. Our world today is nothing but surprise – constant change and the surprise it brings us. That’s why learning how to use surprise to our advantage is so powerful.

“It’s training in the skills that separate people and organizations that thrive in this new world from the ones that can’t stomach the volatility… They are the skills that turn our work and our lives into meaningful adventures.”

2) Surprise Requires Connection — Surprise must be a shared experience. When surprising things happen to us, we naturally want to share with others, building deeper connections.

“Keeping an emotionally and cognitively intense experience to ourselves isn’t just difficult; it can lead to physical illness.”

3) Trust, Stability and Vulnerability Are Critical for Embracing Surprise – Recognition and appreciation play a key role in building trust, which is necessary for us to give up control and accept the unpredictable. Stable connections in the workplace keep us focused on what matters most. Vulnerability does not mean weakness, but openness.

  • “Trust is a psychological safety net that allows us to let go.”
  • “Setting stable ground builds resilience and makes even the worst surprises bearable. Social support is particularly effective at creating stability… Stable and supportive people can also help us gain clarity and just plain remind us that we matter.”
  • “We cannot connect unless we leave ourselves open to the unpredictable delights and disappointments, joys and sorrows of relationships.”

4) Adapting to and Using Surprise to Our Advantage Requires Improvisation – People most adept with surprise “accept that surprises will happen without trying to avoid or predict them.” Improvisation is a terrific way to build this skill because it requires two things in particular – focusing on others and staying in the moment.

“Improv performers agreed that the most important rule in improv is listening to your scene partners rather than thinking about yourself… The same advice applies offstage. In times of uncertainty, turning our attention to others allows us to move more swiftly and make better choices. It also allows us to help others look good, which builds trust and community… The most exciting performers trust that they’ll find themselves someplace better than they imagined, which is precisely how they get there. To improvise, we have to stay with the moment we’re in instead of chasing a moment we want.”

5) Practicing Gratitude Gives Us More Reasons to Be Grateful – I suggest taking the advice in the book one step further. Yes, reflect every day on what you’re grateful for. But then make the extra effort to express your gratitude through recognition by telling the target of your gratitude why and how they’ve given you a reason to be grateful.

“One of the best predictors of life satisfaction is how much gratitude we feel on a regular basis. More gratitude = more joy…. When we get what we expect (even if it’s wonderful), we feel nothing. No surprise = no gratitude. Actively practicing gratitude is the only way to flip on the switch voluntarily instead of sitting around and waiting for gratitude-inspiring surprises to happen.”

Stay tuned next week for wisdom from Tim Lebrecht and his book, The Business Romantic.

How do you handle surprise? Is it something you seek out or try to avoid?

You Asked: Answering Your Questions about The Power of Thanks (Part 2)

by Derek Irvine

Cover of Power of Thanks BookRecognize This! – Social recognition is a very powerful means of creating and managing culture, when structured in a considered, thoughtful way.

Continuing on my last post, below are the remaining questions asked in our recent webinar about our new book, The Power of Thanks. (Download a recording of the webinar.)

Q10: How should companies balance positive recognition with encouraging people to offer candid criticism, as well? In other words, is there a risk that focusing on encouraging positive recognition risks silencing negative feedback?

There is a far greater risk to negative feedback outweighing positive. Both are important, but one thing to be sure to avoid is the “feedback sandwich,” which is just confusing to all. Check out these posts on research showing it takes 5 positive comments to outweigh one negative for feedback recipients and Gallup research showing employees whose managers acknowledge their strengths are far more engaged than those whose managers focus on their weaknesses.

Q11: I am in management in a department that has just completed a hostile takeover of another department. There is a great deal of mistrust and dysfunction. How can we turn this around without undermining the needed authority we have to maintain?

While departmental, many of the principles for any kind of merging of cultures likely applies. I recommend the information in this post: “The Power of Thanks during M&A – 5 Steps to Merge Company Cultures.”

Q12: I give recognition frequently, but I do not receive it (personally) because upper management doesn’t believe in it. I purchase recognition items out of my own money, but just can’t seem to get buy-in from the top.

A strong business case for recognition that appeals to what upper management cares about most would likely be a strong approach. I refer you specifically to chapter 8 in The Power of Thanks, “Driving ROI and Business Results.” Working with customers to create solid business cases is also a service my team offers. Reach out through the email link above if we can help further.

Q13: In today’s environment, we are getting very impersonal and managers miss the little things that count when it comes to employee recognition. Agreed?

Agreed. It’s the many little things that make us a success. Even the very best managers can’t be expected to see all the good occurring around them every day, especially in today’s distributed workforces. That’s why peer recognition is vitally important to empower everyone to “catch someone doing something good. This post has more detail: Open the Floodgates of Recognition.

Q14: Is it effective to do a “recognition” program within a smaller group–if you can’t impact the entire company? And can you give more examples of the best ways to do that?

It can be effective to structure a program in a smaller group, but the same principles of best practice program design apply. No matter the size of the group, follow the blueprint for recognition success outlined in chapter 7 of The Power of Thanks, “Building a Social Recognition Framework.” Doing so will not only ensure success of the program within your smaller group, but also prove the value of your efforts to the company as a whole (hopefully enabling you to expand the positivity to the entire organization).

Q15: Is there a blueprint/best way to measure employee engagement? Cultural health?

That’s a question the various employee engagement survey providers would want to weigh in on, I’m sure. My advice would be to be sure any survey you conduct, you’re prepared to take action on feedback received in a very timely fashion. Otherwise people think their time spent offering their opinions is wasted. For measuring culture health, there’s no better way than staying on top of the factors you’ve determined to be the markers of your culture – your core values (in most cases). Chapter 9 in The Power of Thanks, “How Social Recognition Impacts HR” addresses this topic in much greater detail, delving into the power of big data and people analytics.

Q16: Is there a value to doing a recognition program that simply acknowledges and gives thanks without actual awards?

“Thanks Only” recognition programs have a couple of challenges, first of which is no calibration of recognition to level of effort, contribution, result achieved. Someone who led a cross-departmental team on a project with company-wide, lasting impact should be recognized at a higher level than someone who contributed as part of team to achieving a short-term goal. Without that calibration and differentiation, recognition becomes devalued very quickly. Also, research shows employees themselves find ethanks to not be memorable or have a lasting impact.

Q17: Do you have any research on gamification tools and their impact on social collaboration and recognition. Any success stories or key things to look for in gamification software?

Gamification is a tricky issue. In a true incentives or contest scenario, then gamification techniques make good sense. But in true recognition, you want to be sure all praise and appreciation activity is organic. You don’t want people to game recognition in terms of wanting to be a “top recognizer” on a leaderboard, as that only encourages people to recognize others for the wrong reasons. Again, my colleague, Darcy, has done a terrific job of explaining this in more depth in this post: “5 Myths about Gamification Everyone Should Know.”

Clearly, we enjoy addressing your questions here on Recognize This! Feel free to reach out through the email link above any time or in comments on any post. I often address those questions in posts directly.

What are your biggest questions or concerns around social recognition?

You Asked: Answering Your Questions about The Power of Thanks (Part 1)

by Derek Irvine

Cover of Power of Thanks BookRecognize This! – Social recognition is a very powerful means of creating and managing culture, when structured in a considered, thoughtful way.

Last week, Eric Mosley and I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar about our new book, The Power of Thanks. (Download a recording of the webinar.) The webinar, led by Laurie Ruettimann, was a very enjoyable experience with terrific questions from attendees. As is always the case, we ran out of time before we were able to address all of the questions. I’ll do my best to answer them here, often pointing to prior blog posts on similar topics. Due to the number of questions, I’ll be breaking this into two posts, with the second to appear on Monday.

Q1: A company maintains its most valued assets not by compensation, but by appreciation?

There’s no question that fair compensation matters. Employees need to satisfy their base requirements for safety, security, food, etc. But once those needs are met, additional compensation doesn’t necessarily lead to the higher orders of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for self-esteem and self-actualization. Maintaining your most valued assets requires an appropriate blend of both compensation and recognition. Read more on the topic on Compensation Café: “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Is More Fluid than You Think.”

Q2: Are there specific rules for employee appreciation?

There are. First and foremost, recognition should be specific. A casual, “thanks for all you do” is often received as insincere and ultimately meaningless. (Recipients of such a comment often think, “Do you even know what I do?”) This is easily resolved by taking a few minutes to add a couple more well thought-out sentences around how the person’s contributions helped you. To summarize the rules for effective recognition: Timely, Personal, Specific, Meaningful and Frequent. This post highlights each of these elements in more detail: “Top 5 Ways to Say Thanks.”

(This question is similar to another one asked: “I have found that giving thanks *is* very powerful, but it can come across as insincere sometimes — even if it isn’t. How can leaders keep the thanks ‘real?’” The answer above applies here, too.)

Q3: Can you give a concrete examples of a good example of a best practice social recognition?

At it’s heart, social recognition requires the involvement of the broad community – both passively and actively. Passive involvement means sharing recognition given and moments of goodwill so others can pile on with their own messages of congratulations (think newsfeed similar to Facebook but secure within your company and organized to show you the people you know best in addition to regular communications on goodwill given). Active involvement means opening the opportunity to give personal, meaningful recognition to everyone. Peer-to-peer recognition is as important as manager-to-employee. Often the people we work with every day see and understand the value of our contributions better than those who may manage us from a distance. Frequent recognition is also an important component as anytime a person demonstrates a desired behavior, he or she should be recognized for doing so. As to what constitutes a good message of appreciation, I’ll defer to this post: “5 Must-Haves for a Meaningful Message of Appreciation.”

Q4: Eric is talking about “blanketing your company in positivity and good will.” Can he provide more specifics?

This topic is largely all about not limiting the opportunity to share positivity in a formal way to any particular group. Too often, we say managers are responsible for this, but really all employees hold responsibility for creating and sustain a culture of recognition built on daily moments of positivity and goodwill. These two posts offer additional color: “Creating a Contagion of Positivity in the Workplace” and “The Power of Positivity at Work.”

Q5: Do you ever notice a lack of appreciation or an expectation from employees with rewards like service rewards? How do you address these situations or revamp the program to make it eagerly anticipated?

Ah, long service or years of service awards. As traditionally implemented, these types of awards add little value as they tend to be an exclusive experience between the manager and employee (at best). However, when you make the anniversary award achievement an inclusive experience, inviting stories and sharing from the recipient’s friends and colleagues, the anniversary becomes a true celebration of that person’s entire history with your organization, acknowledging all of their contributions and achievements over time. What’s that experience like? Read this story from a member of my team: “How to Avoid the Seven-Year Itch.”

Q6: For the 14% of employees who don’t like public recognition, what’s the best way to recognize them without causing a negative/embarrassing experience for that resource?

Acknowledging people’s personal preferences for recognition is a form of recognition itself. Private recognition should certainly occur one-on-one between the giver and receiver in a detailed way. However, I caution to not take this too far. For example, if John (who prefers private recognition) was a contributor to a major team project and success, you wouldn’t specifically mention all the other team members by name and exclude John’s name. For more, this is one of my favorite posts on recognition gone wrong: “How Not to Recognize * Mortification ≠ Motivation.”

Q7: Have you seen start-up companies embrace this type of value/recognition system and processes vs. just large companies? Can you share start-up examples who have built this into their DNA from the beginning and how their leadership has seen the value here?

I’m not sure I can share a better example than Globoforce itself! Our Globostars recognition program has been part of our culture since the beginning. Recognition is very much in our DNA and blanket Globoforce with positivity every day. It’s also a significant contributor to our achievement of becoming a “Best Places to Work” in Ireland, Europe and the U.S. This post shares a detailed interview with Eric about how we’ve built our culture, values and recognition experience: “Spreading Positivity at Work – The Globoforce Story.”

Q8: Do you think the combination of technology and pace of the work world we live in are responsible for why we need to be reminded of how to be human?

I do think that’s a large part of it. I also think we’re all focused on achieving immediate needed goals. Sometimes we need to be reminded to pick our heads up out of our daily work and notice the great efforts of those around us. That’s an essential element of “being human,” whether we’re at work, at the grocery store, or chatting with our neighbors. More on how we “Work Human” is very much a part of our upcoming conference (learn more and register at I hope you can join us. (Use registration code DIBLOG100for a special blog discount of $100).

Q9: How does this style of recognition apply to more communal (non-individualist) cultures, where open recognition might be seen as embarrassing? I would assume there are similar mechanisms to recognize teams and team efforts, and not just individuals?

Recognition – and the need to be noticed and appreciated – is a universal human need, regardless of culture. That said, there are nuances. My colleague, Darcy Jacobsen, wrote several posts on this topic that dive more deeply than I can here. I recommend in particular: “Is Your Culture Holistic, Monochronic or Collectivist?” and “Recognizing across Cultures: China.”

Stay tuned for the next post for the answers to the remainder of questions from the webinar.

The Power of Thanks Named Silver Medalist in Axiom Business Book Awards

by Derek Irvine

Representation of Axiom MedalRecognize This! – Awards are wonderful to receive, but it’s what we learn from them that has even more value.

I am honored and pleased to announce that our latest book, The Power of Thanks, continues to earn accolades and win awards. This week we were awarded the Silver Medal in the Human Resources/Employee Training category, given by the Axiom Business Book Awards, “designed to honor the year’s best business books and their authors and publishers.

What does this mean to you? Well, I certainly recommend giving it a read to see how you can transform your work culture through the power of appreciation, gratitude, recognition and, yes, thanks

Short on time? You can download the first chapter here and get a taste for what the book has to offer in terms of practical advice and proven examples for devising a powerful, growth-generating strategy that modernizes employee recognition for today’s social, global, multi-generational and 24×7 wired workforce.

Want a deeper dive? HRO Today just published an excerpt from a later chapter on how Social Recognition impacts HR, specifically through the data and deep talent insights that become available to you. You can read the excerpt, titled “Hidden Talent Patterns” beginning on page 46 here.

Of course, I do hope you’ll read the entire book. I would greatly enjoy discussing it with you. Join me at WorkHuman 2015, June 8-10, in Orlando, FL. I’ll be emceeing the event, including discussions on the practices illustrated in The Power of Thanks. (When registering at, be sure to enter code DIBLOG100 for a special blog discount of $100.)


3 Things I’m Grateful For at Work

by Lynette Silva

Post-it note reading "express your gratitude"Recognize This! – You can’t gain the benefits of gratitude unless you are willing to be more grateful in the first place.

I am thrilled with the availability of our newest book, The Power of Thanks. It’s a tremendous tool for anyone looking to change their work cultures for the better. Whether you’re of a more philosophical bent or a “show me the data” type, you can glean valuable insight and information from the book.

Fundamentally, The Power of Thanks is a practical tool. There are elements you can excerpt to share with a broad audience, checklists to determine if you’re ready for social recognition, and mythbusters to help set you up for success.

If you’re the type that prefers to skip to the last chapter in a good murder mystery, then I encourage you to read Chapter 7 if nothing else. This chapter, “Building a Social Recognition Framework,” is the blueprint of market practices proven to create deeply influential cultures of appreciation in any organization.

One way I know the book is already having an impact is the excerpts I see popping up in various media, like this article on “14 Powerfully Beneficial Effects of Gratitude” in Inc. magazine.

Reading that article got me thinking again about the things I’m grateful for and the impact of that on my life. The one important point about gratitude is you can’t gain the benefits unless you are willing to be more grateful in the first place.

So, what am I grateful for? The list is long and varied, but for this post, I’ll keep it more work focused. Here are my top 3 things I’m grateful for at work.

  1. The opportunity to do good work with great people every day. Not enough people get to work on worthwhile projects with people they genuinely enjoy. I’m lucky, and I know it. Deep relationships with our co-workers are a key driver of happiness, and it’s safe to say I’m a pretty happy person.
  2. The knowledge that what I do matters. I help people around the world feel more appreciated and valued for the work they do, creating happier and more engaged workforces. The benefits accrete endlessly from there.
  3. The ability to take my work home with me. Sure, like most “knowledge workers” in today’s workforce, I check email and work from home on occasion, but that’s not what I mean here. I literally take my work home with me – I am a much more appreciative person now than I was seven years ago. I notice others more and am far more inclined to express my “thanks” in heartfelt ways.

Are you grateful person? What are you grateful for?

Core Values Leads to Increased Engagement Resulting in Bottom-line Results

by Derek Irvine

Road Sign Reading "Core Values"Recognize This! – Whatever underpins your company’s culture will impact your company’s success. Building a strong foundation on your core values is proven to increase employee engagement.

In the first chapter of The Power of Thanks, Eric Mosley and I introduce a very important concept that is a foundational principle of the book:

“At the heart of great corporate successes and failures is a single observable phenomenon: the behaviors and values that constitute a company’s culture largely determine its fate.”

Of course, we dive much more deeply into why this is true, but to summarize – the values underlying your culture are the defining factors for how all employees should behave to achieve the organizational objectives. They also give employees a sense of greater meaning and context of their work.

There’s no end of research supporting this assertion, and more keeps coming. Since the publication of The Power of Thanks, Don MacPherson, CEO of ModernSurvey, wrote about how employee understanding of their company’s core values impacts their own engagement:

“When someone says their organizational values are known and understood, that person is 51 times more likely to be ‘Fully Engaged’ than someone who works at an organization without values that are known…

“On Modern Survey’s twice annual study of the U.S. Workforce, we ask a very simple question: Does your organization have a clear set of Values that most employees know about and understand?

“Respondents are given three choices – Yes, No, Maybe. If you say ‘Yes’ to that question, there is nearly a 20% chance you will be ‘Fully Engaged.’ That’s a significant improvement compared to the 16% of ‘Fully Engaged’ employees across the entire U.S. workforce.

“On the other hand, if you say ‘No’ to the values question, it is next to impossible to be ‘Fully Engaged.’ In fact, just 1 in 260 people who responded ‘No’ are ‘Fully Engaged.’ That is less than one-half of one percent!” (all emphasis original)

That is a powerful finding. If you’re employees don’t know your core values, it’s nearly impossible for them to be fully engaged.

If you’re a skeptic asking, “so what?”, the research is equally powerful on the bottom line impact of employee engagement. One recent study from Aon Hewitt showed that every incremental percentage point increase in employee engagement resulted in 0.6% of sales growth. The example shared in that study was quite compelling:

“For example, a $5 billion organization with a gross margin of 55 percent and operating margins of 15 percent increased operating income by $20 million with just a 1 percent improvement in employee engagement. With a 5 percent improvement in employee engagement, operating income jumped to $102 million.”

That’s a lot of money to leave on the table simply because your employees don’t know or understand your core values. And having employees carry your values on a wallet card or attached to their security badge isn’t the answer. At best, that means they might be able to recite your values when asked. No, the most effective way to deeply embed your company values into the hearts, minds and daily work of all employees is to recognize them – and have them recognize each other – every time they demonstrate one of your values in their work. That’s what makes your values real.

For example, “Integrity” is a common value at many companies, as it should be. But it can also be a bit philosophical for employees – “I know I’m a person of integrity, but what exactly does that mean in my day-to-day tasks?” If you were to recognize an employee with a specific, detailed message like this, think how it might encourage repeat behaviors and increase the employee’s engagement in their work and your company:

“Sean, I noticed your work on the Millersville project. The client contact came to you with a very difficult scenario, and they initially seemed unwilling to listen to our proposed solutions. The way you presented options to the customer, clearly outlining why some were more advantageous to them even to our own loss, showed how committed we are to the client’s success. That is a clear demonstration of our core value of ‘Integrity,’ and I and the team appreciate how you handled the situation. Thank you!”

That’s the power of thanks – and it can directly impact your bottom line.

What are your company’s core values? Are all employees in your organization aware of them and committed to living them out in their daily work?