Learning from the Corner Office * Yum Brands and Ford Motor

I enjoy reading The New York Times’ Corner Office column. I always gain insight from the lessons and perspectives of CEOs who are profiled in it. David C. Novack, chairman, chief executive of Yum brands had these interesting observations in a July column:
“Our [Yum Brands’] culture is based on the fact that people have an innate need for well-deserved recognition. Using recognition is the best way to build a high-energy, fun culture and reinforce the behaviors that drive results.

“One, it [recognition] needs to be deserved. And, two, it needs to come from the heart. So I think what leaders have to do is recognize the people who are getting it done. For the people who are getting it done, it can’t be done too much. Why be selfish on the thing that matters most to people?

“People leave companies for two reasons. One, they don’t feel appreciated. And, two, they don’t get along with their boss. We try to recognize the people who are really getting it done any time they happen to get it done, and we try to develop coaches instead of bosses. To me, with recognition, if you’ve got to err on the side of anything, recognize more than you should.”

Alan R. Mullaly, president and chief executive of Ford Motor, spoke of the four things he, as CEO, focuses on in a September column. One of those four he described as:
“I really focus on the values and the standards of the organization. What are the expected behaviors? How do we want to treat each other? How do we want to act? What do we want to do about transparency? How can we have a safe environment where we really know what’s going on?”

Between them, Mr. Novack and Mr. Mullaly hit three of our five tenets for strategic recognition in an organization:

1) Executive sponsorship with defined goals – the CEO must set the tone for the culture of the organization, encouraging and demonstrating the action he wants to see.

2) Opportunity for all to participate – recognize the majority of your people every time they do something worthy of appreciation. Recognition does not become less meaningful the more it happens. Rather, frequent recognition shows your people you care enough to pay attention to what they are doing and value their efforts.

3) Aligned with company values and strategic objectives – recognition is a powerful tool to make your values and objectives come alive for every employee in their everyday tasks. Tie every recognition to a value demonstrated or objective contributed to and you can begin to analyze understanding of the values and objectives by person, by team, by division.

What nuggets do you take away from these leaders?

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