Archive for the "Events & Webinars" Category

4 Steps to Build a Human Workplace

By Derek Irvine

Construction workerRecognize This! – Research points to the importance of a caring and purpose-driven culture, leadership support, and values-aligned recognition in creating a human workplace.

Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute recently released a report on The ROI of Recognition in Building a Human Workplace. Below I outline several key findings from that report, and describe the steps that organizational leaders can take to create more human workplaces. In short, social recognition, along with support from leadership, can help create caring and purpose-driven cultures that in turn help employees to be both happier and more productive at work. Here’s how:

Put the Right Culture in Place

Our research suggests there are two attributes at the core of what it means to create a more human workplace. The biggest differentiators, between companies that are human-focused and those that are not, include a culture that is:

  • Caring – when employees believe their leaders are creating a human workplace, they’re almost three times more likely to feel their company cares about them as a person (89% compared to 31%).
  • Meaning and purpose – when employees believe their leaders are creating a human workplace, 90% feel their company provides meaning and purpose, compared to 64%.

A human workplace emphasizes the mutually reinforcing nature of these two attributes when combined into a unified culture. Employees not only feel psychologically safe to contribute their best selves, but are more likely to reciprocate the positive support they receive from the organization. When they also experience a sense of purpose and meaningfulness in their work, they are able to unleash that much more of their potential and productivity.

There are a couple of practices that organizations can implement to ensure that a unified culture is transmitted across the entire organization, amplifying the contributions of all employees.

Have Leaders Carry the Banner

As the data above illustrate, organizational leaders serve as important signals of the attention and importance being given to these ideas. When employees perceive that leaders care about and actively try to create a more human workplace, they are more likely to recommend the organization to friends or colleagues (93%), love their jobs (83%), and be motivated to work hard for the organization and co-workers (91%).

Recognize for Core Values (Appreciate + Give Purpose)

Another key practice is recognition that is tied to values. While tactical recognition programs (in 50% of human-centered companies) can begin to contribute to a culture of appreciation and caring, only a values-based, social recognition program can emphasize the dual importance of a caring culture alongside values-driven purpose (in 80% of human-centered companies).

Our research shows that when employees are recognized, they feel appreciated (92%), prouder of their work (86%), and more engaged (83%). Furthermore, they report that recognition makes them work harder (79%) and be more productive (78%). These outcomes tightly align employees to the caring and purpose-driven aspects of a human-centered culture described above.

Create Happier Employees

When leadership and recognition support the creation a more human workplace, our research has found that employees are happier. Employees that are engaged in the organization’s purpose and values, and feel that the organization cares about them, tend to be happier at work (97% and 96%, respectively, compared to 65% and 79%). Employees that feel their leaders care about a human-centered culture are also much happier (96%) than when they perceived their leaders as less caring (82%).

What other practices do you think contribute to building a more human workplace?

To learn more about these findings and how you can work towards creating a more human workplace, register for a webinar that Sharlyn Lauby and I will be giving on April 14th!

China Gorman on the Role of Trust in Changing Cultures and Creating Great Places to Work

by Andrea Gappmayer

Great Place to Work LogoRecognize This! – Strong, supportive, successful company cultures are built on a strong foundation of trust, pride and camaraderie in relationships at work.

As a Senior Recognition Strategist and Consultant at Globoforce, I have the opportunity to meet and work with fascinating people every day. China Gorman, the former CEO of Great Place to Work® Institute, is one of those people. In June, we announced that China has taken on the role of Chair of the Globoforce WorkHuman Advisory Committee. We could not be more thrilled.

It was my honor to present an interview-style session with China Gorman at the Evanta CHRO Leadership Summit in San Francisco.

The first question I asked, because I knew it would be on the forefront of everyone’s minds was, “What traits do you see consistently in Great Place to Work® organizations?”

China explained that Great Place to Work methodologies measure three key relationships within the organization:

  1. Is the relationship between employees and their leaders founded in trust?
  2. Is the relationship between employees and their work one that makes employees proud?
  3. Is the relationship between employees in their work group one of camaraderie?

You could see people throughout the room internally asking themselves these questions. Some people nodded; most of them grimaced. Acknowledging the reality of your work culture isn’t easy, but it has to happen. And the realization of the work involved to change the culture can be daunting.

“Does employee appreciation play a role in Great Place to Work organizations?” I asked.

China’s response? “100%, absolutely.” Employee appreciation is a key driver of trust. If the relationship between employees and leaders isn’t founded in trust, how can a winning culture thrive? And how can an organization be productive and profitable when their culture isn’t thriving? Simple answer: it can’t.

A key point that China stressed repeatedly is that culture change absolutely must come from the top. Without executive support, it just isn’t going to happen. Using real world examples of leaders who were able to turn their cultures around, China drove home every point she made. Many people approached her afterwards thanking her for the insight. They appreciated the stories and examples because it gave them ideas in how to change their own culture and the confidence to make it happen.

For the rest of our interview, China had more insight and facts on driving employee appreciation, creating trust, and generating a Great Place to Work culture. Unfortunately, a short blog can’t capture all of the information. Nor can it reflect the atmosphere and energy of the session.

Did you have a company that needed a culture reboot? How did you implement change?

5 Human Truths in the Modern Workplace and How to Address Them

by Derek Irvine

3903889peoplecreatetheheartofthehouseRecognize This! – We are all human. Our workplaces, relationships and interactions need to reflect our humanity to help us all deliver more productively and achieve success together.

I had the pleasure and honor of speaking again this year at SHRM’s 2015 annual conference. My topic – “The Power of Thanks: Bringing Workplace Gratitude to the Next Level” – involved a wide range through the history of humans at work, most of which was hard labor. For the majority of our history at work, we’ve mostly relied on our muscle for hard, physical labor. Only in the last few decades did we begin to rely heavily on our minds as well as the focus at work shifted to the knowledge worker. Now, we are finally moving into a whole body experience at work, involving our hearts, too. I asked the SHRM audience and I’ll ask you, “Can you  ‘heart’ (holding my hands like in the picture) your company?” Most at SHRM could not. And those that can have a significant competitive advantage.

Now, it’s all about the “H” in HR – our humanity. That’s why I call this the “human decade.” And, to that end, why my SHRM talk focused on how the power of thanks, combined with technology, advances human truths. Indeed, there are 5 human truths at work.

Human Truth #1 – We seek meaning, purpose and basic needs.

Looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, compensation only satisfies the most basic of needs. In the average company today, the way people are compensated has very little to do with great performance. The good news is you don’t have to spend more money to get great performance; you just have to redirect some of what you’re currently spending. The social technology revolution – and it’s a genuine revolution – is empowering HR and executives to create and maintain a unique culture.

The revolution, which means a turning around of the status quo – means that humans are no longer going to change to fit business requirements, but instead business is going to prosper by more carefully harnessing human nature. The top two-thirds of Maslow’s Hierarchy are needs that can only be met by authentic human interaction – shared values, shared esteem, recognition and appreciation.

One of the most powerful methods of conveying meaning and purpose is through recognition and appreciation. And yet, a recent Harvard Business Review report showed recognition is the number one issue preventing effective leadership. That’s the power of social recognition to reinforce your company values, broadcast your culture, empower and strengthen relationships, and energize and inspire all employees.

Human Truth #2 – We enjoy telling and hearing our success stories.

Our brains are wired for stories. We remember stories far better than we remember facts and stats. Effective storytelling at work relies on being real, being positive, celebrating each other, and showing growth. Clear, descriptive, detailed messages of appreciation that tell the story of how others contributed, helped and achieved success build deeper relationships and heighten our sense of meaning and purpose.

Human Truth #3 – We want to be inspired at our service anniversaries.

Nearly every company offers some form of acknowledgment of major milestone service anniversaries for employees. Yet 31% rate their years of service programs as fair or poor (according to the recently released 2015 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey). Too many think of these programs as merely “thank you for not quitting programs.” And that’s largely because the most critical element of a celebration such as this missing. That element is the people. Ideally, milestone anniversary celebrations should highlight previous recognition moments and mobilize one’s community of colleagues to celebrate.

Human Truth #4 – We crave a more complete view of our performance.

“I can’t wait until my performance review with my manager,” said no one, ever. Search twitter for “Performance Review” and you’ll get comments like “Feeling completely dejected and destroyed after the performance review I received from the central office. #killmeknow” and “’Errors and Lies’ is trending on Twitter right now which is pretty much what my last job performance review was.”

Performance reviews as traditionally applied fail for several reasons – they are awkward, infrequent, and rely on a single point of failure. “Innovations” in this area in the last decade have largely taken the same process and applied new technology, computerizing and exhaustive form. Crowdsourcing performance through peer recognition gives another level of insight for managers for a far more meaningful, helpful and real appraisal process.

Human Truth #5 – Everyone seeks a more human workplace.  

A fundamental aspect of being a human being is the need for companionship, friendship, relationships – connections with others. For the longest time, we ignored this truth in the workplace, to our detriment.

Our Fall 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker revealed several expectations and needs from employees regarding the nature of relationships at work. 89% of workers say relationships matter to the quality of life. And those with more friends at work are also more likely to love and have pride in their companies, are 2 times more likely to trust leadership, are more engaged, and far less likely to jump ship.

Applying the 5 Human Truths in Your Workplace

So, what can you do to make your workplaces more human? First and foremost, always remember that the opposite of saying “thanks” is to make no acknowledgment of others at all. With that in mind, you can:

  1. Notice and appreciate the great work happening around you every day
  2. Lead by example
  3. Be the catalyst for change at your organization
  4. Be the steward for a more human workplace

You don’t need to be in a position of formal leadership to create a more human workplace. You can begin in your cube, on your manufacturing line, in your vehicle – wherever you work, you can be more human towards others.

Let’s Work Human together.

What aspects of inhumanity or humanity do you see in your workplace?


SHRM Lessons: Feedback vs. Attention vs. Gratitude

by Lynette Silva

Refuel at Globoforce Booth at SHRMRecognize This! — There’s much difference between feedback, attention and gratitude. All are real needs, but serving different goals.

In surprising news to no one, this week is the SHRM 2015 conference in Las Vegas. In fact, RecognizeThis! founder Derek Irvine (and VP of Client Strategy & Consulting for Globoforce) is speaking there today at 11:30 (for those at SHRM, it’s Mega Session: The Power of “Thanks”: Bringing Workplace Gratitude to the Next Level; Westgate Pavilion 2).

Even though I’m not at SHRM, I’m assiduously following the tweets, blog posts and other reports flowing out of the show. I love this additional insight into some of my favorite bloggers and what they take away as key lessons from such an event. Take, for example, Tim Sackett’s post yesterday – We All Just Want Attention – reporting on Marcus Buckingham’s keynote session. As Tim said:

“The big bomb he dropped on the SHRMies this session was the money-shot quote of the conference: Millennials don’t want feedback! … Those organizations with high engagement are not the ones who are giving more feedback. They are the ones who are paying more attention to their employees.  Yes, there is a difference…

“In reality, Marcus told us the truth.  Millennials, and the rest of us, don’t want feedback, we all want attention. Pay attention to us!  Stop by frequently and see how we are doing, give us some insight to our near future, help us get our jobs done.  But, please, don’t give us feedback on what we are doing wrong!”

I couldn’t agree more. We’ve written about this point of view several times here. It’s one of the topics that drives me a bit batty, actually, when talking about “Millennials at work.” Millennials are just like every other “new to the workplace” generation before them. They cry out for acknowledgement, coaching, insight and development. It’s more “Is this what you wanted to see? Is the work I do valuable? How am I contributing to achieving bigger goals?” and less “give me a gold star.”

But this is necessarily a balancing act. Not all work done by anyone, much less by those new to the field or company, is good all time. Sometimes constructive feedback is necessary. Tim puts it this way:

“Some employees need to be managed to get the most out of them.  They need to be held accountable. I do think there is a balance that we can get to when it comes to paying attention to our employees, like they want, and being able to ‘manage’ them like the business needs.”

It’s that balancing act we’ve got to do better. We’ve let the pendulum swing too far (for too long) to annual performance reviews (or quarterly) that remain too focused on the constructive discussion for acts done too far in the past to be useful to the listener. We must become better at real-time attention and, yes, gratitude and appreciation from multiple sources. We must enable and encourage everyone to assume responsibility for picking our heads up out of our own work and appreciating the work of those around us – even if those excellent efforts demonstrated or achieved by others had no direct bearing on us.

If you’re at SHRM, be sure to check out Derek’s session to learn more about the attention/appreciation/gratitude side of the need for feedback.

Do you get the attention you need at work?

Why We Need Emotional Workers

by Lynette Silva

WorkHuman 2015 imageRecognize This! – The fullness of our messy selves is what fuels our creativity, passion and success. Finding ways to encourage and accommodate emotion at work benefits us all.

I’m a sucker for Pixar movies. Sure, the animations and graphics are amazing, but the stories are the real heart of the movies. Layered and nuanced, Pixar movies reflect back to us our humanity through the unlikely mirrors of monsters, insects, toys and robots. So when I saw Lindsay McCutcheon had put together a video of the most emotional moments from Pixar movies, I was in.

See for yourself the power of emotion – email subscribers, click through for the video. (I watched it without sound, figuring I’d be less likely to ruin my mascara first thing in the morning. I was wrong.)

Emotions Of Pixar from Lindsay McCutcheon on Vimeo.

Brilliantly done, the video first shows all the “negative,” sad emotional moments, then the positive, from a wide cast of Pixar characters over the years. The beauty of this video lies in showing us the human condition – the ebb and flow of what it means to be human.

  • Out of disappointment comes determination. Out of failure, imagination to find a new way.
  • Sadness over the loss of one dream can lead to wonder over the beginning of another.
  • In the midst of feeling alone, we often find those who are our truest family.

I think we can all attest to experiencing these emotions in our lives. Yet our workplaces all too often ask us to bury these emotions (even the good) for a stasis of “pleasant,” for the uncontroversial of “mild mannered.” What are these messages? Usually some form of:

  • Leave the sadness over the loss of a family member at home. When you walk through these doors, you’re here to work. Don’t bring the rest of us down.
  • You’re too happy! You can’t be that joyful all the time. It’s just fake. Who is the real you, anyway?
  • Hide your failures. Admit to nothing. Keep your head down and just keep ploughing forward. If you’re lucky, you won’t be noticed.

Sure these messages are on the extreme edges, but I doubt they’re unfamiliar to most readers. Yet, it’s when we bring our whole selves to work – the entirety of our crazy, mixed up, maddening, creative, insightful, caring humanity – that we can accomplish our best work, together.

We must learn to WorkHuman. It’s not an option any longer. Doing so not only makes the work experience that much better for the individuals involved, but it also drives far better business results.

What emotions are permitted in your workplace? Which are disallowed?

3 Attributes of a WorkHuman Culture

by Derek Irvine

Social NetworkRecognize This! – Every workplace has a culture for good or ill. Creating a WorkHuman culture requires transparency, resources and evolution over time.

One of my go-to blogs for continual learning in HR is Sharlyn Lauby’s HR Bartender. In particular, her post today on corporate culture resonated deeply with me as I’m in final preparations for WorkHuman in Orlando, FL, next week. (There’s still time to register here. Use blog code DIBLOG100 for a discount.)

Sharlyn shares her learnings from an interview she conducted with executives of Mars Drinks and Great Place to Work at the Great Place to Work Conference. In particular, she highlights their three must-haves for a positive workplace cultures – Trust, Freedom and Community.

While I agree wholeheartedly with their assessment, I wanted to call attention to very important observations elsewhere in Sharlyn’s post on what makes a truly WorkHuman culture.

Attributes of a WorkHuman Culture

1) Authentic and transparent

Sharlyn says, “I’d like to believe that, by now, we realize that having an authentic and transparent culture is necessary for business success (translation: bottom-line success).”

People work far harder and more effectively (translation: are more engaged) when they know what they’re working for. What are the bigger goals and ambitions for the firm? How do their own, personal efforts contribute to achieving those goals? What difference are they making?

These are all fundamental questions that are easily answered when the entire organizational culture is transparent and authentic about what it desires from everyone. One of the most effective ways of creating transparency and authenticity is through social recognition – giving everyone the power of noticing and celebrating those who do good work and broadcasting that appreciation broadly throughout the organization.

2) Resourced appropriately

Sharlyn says: “While organizations understand that culture is important, they are sometimes reluctant to dedicate huge resources toward developing culture without knowing the return.”

This is sadly true. Yet it is indisputable that a more positive, more WorkHuman culture drives positive ROI in terms of retention, engagement, performance and productivity. Happy employees deliver better results. That is a return we know is possible. But resourcing for this equally critical. Those resources take many forms – additional people to support the culture itself, more training and development opportunities, and systems to deeply ingrain desired cultural outcomes deeply into “how we do business.”

3) Constantly evolving

Sharlyn says: “Businesses that do not look for ways to continuously evolve their culture can will quickly find themselves obsolete.”

No culture, regardless of how good it is, is guaranteed to be the right culture 5, 10 or 50 years into the future. Certain attributes may remain the same, but flexibility and encouragement to evolve with the times (new generations, new technologies, new sensibilities) ensures your culture will sustain your business far into the future.

Be sure to also download and review the “Rethink the Daily Grind” tips from Mars Drinks offered in Sharlyn’s post as well. Most focus on the core of any good, WorkHuman workplace – connections with others. It’s our relationships with others that bring humanity to our work. And I choose the word “relationships” quite specifically over the more accepted business term of “networks.” We all have networks. But even the broadest network is useless if we don’t have deep relationships with the people that make up the network. It’s through our relationships that we are able to get more done in a better way for the benefit of more stakeholders (fellow employees, customers, shareholders, even friends).

What are your hallmarks of a good workplace culture? How do you WorkHuman and encourage others to do so as well?

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?


Latest SHRM Survey Supports Employee Need to “WorkHuman”

by Derek Irvine

Making connections matterRecognize This! – What makes us happy, satisfied and engaged at work? Deeper connections and relationships with colleagues and a stronger sense of meaningful work.

SHRM released its annual “Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report” yesterday. I wrote about it in more depth on Compensation Café today. (Click over to read more.)

The report is quite interesting. I particularly find it useful how it draws on both satisfaction and engagement measures, yet is careful to distinguish the two. They are very different, and SHRM acknowledges this in the report.

Of particular note are findings related to employee needs for connections with their colleagues and meaning in their work. Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs, comments on the research:

“Workers have shown an increased preference for understanding their role and how it aligns with the success of an organization. What’s important to employees now is a collaborative environment that encourages feedback and interaction among co-workers and between employees and their supervisors.”

These two points – connections and meaningful work – are the crux of our discussions at WorkHuman. Indeed, the relationships we build with others as we work together to deliver products and services of value and purpose are the heart of what defines humanity at work.

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?