More How & Why; Less What

Recognize This: Recognition is a powerful tool for reinforcing the “how” and the “why” as well as the “what.”

Employees usually know the “what.” They know they must achieve X goal by Y date or they will be dinged on their performance review.

Employees understanding is much less for the “how” and the “why” – precisely why it’s important that they achieve X goal by Y date and exactly how would be the best way to do it in keeping with the company values. Which approach – pushing the “what” only or reinforcing the “how” and the “why” as well – is more effective?

Bob Brennan, president and CEO of Iron Mountain, explains the difference this way:

“We have a set of core values that are important to us, and they’re mostly around candor -- really to generate speed, action orientation and a sense of security. We’ve got 21,000 people, so we have a lot of people who are managing others. What are the traits we want in leaders? How do we help them understand in very descriptive terms what we expect on a day-to-day basis? That’s different from driving clarity around outcomes, or how they link to broader strategy.”

WHAT – defines the goal to be achieved.
WHY – gives meaning and purpose to their efforts, a key factor of employee engagement and motivation.
HOW – defines acceptable parameters. For example, if social responsibility is a company value, then faster delivery will not be tolerated if doing so harms the environment.

The hallmark of truly strategic recognition is a focus on reinforcing the “why” and the “how” as well as the “what.” What kind of recognition do you experience at work? Are you recognized only when a goal is achieved or is the manner in which you achieved the goal equally important?

Employee Well Being and Recognition

Recognize This: “Well-being is the next employee engagement.”

Five years ago when Eric Mosley, my CEO, and I began talking about employee engagement as a critical outcome of employee recognition and an even more critical component of company success, we had to spend a good deal of time explaining the concept as the majority of HR pros and influencers had never heard of it.

Now we’re seeing a new trend on the horizon, one not yet receiving much air time or understanding – employee well-being.

I don’t mean “wellness.” Well-being is a much broader term, defined by Gallup as: “all the things that are important to how we think about and experience our lives.” Gallup continues:

“Our teams were able to establish the relationship between wellbeing and everything from healthcare costs to productivity levels. It’s now possible to show how an employee with higher wellbeing costs less to insure, boosts performance, and creates engagement.”

Tony Schwartz, author of The Way We Work Isn’t Working, agreed in a blog post on Harvard Business Review:

“So what most influences employee engagement? … The degree to which employers actively invest in meeting the multidimensional needs of their employees.

“The second core need all of us share is to feel emotionally secure — meaning valued, recognized, and appreciated. Less than 40 percent of employees worldwide feel their managers are genuinely interested in their well-being. Only one out of ten employees feel they're treated as vital corporate assets. …The vast majority of employers fail to recognize a simple and immutable truth: how people feel at any given moment profoundly influences how they perform.”
That’s certainly true for me. When I feel valued – when I believe my contributions are helpful to my team members, my customers, my company – I perform at my peak. I’m running on a pure sense of that what I do really matters within the big picture.

Is the same true for you? Would you say your manager is interested in your well-being? When you do feel like “you’re a vital corporate asset,” does your performance improve?

Webinar March 2 with Blessing White on 2011 Employee Engagement Report Results

I'm quite excited about a webinar I'm doing with Blessing White next week, discussing findings from their 2011 Employee Engagement Report.

Hosted by the Human Capital Institute (HCI), Mary Ann Masarech, head of BlessingWhite's Employee Engagement practice, will be discussing with me surprising findings of this recent report I highlighted in an earlier blog post.

We’ll share with you the post-recession factors impacting employee engagement and how focused initiatives, such as strategic recognition, can impact the organization at different levels to build a comprehensive employee engagement initiative.

Join us for this free, one-hour webinar, as we:

• Define engagement in a way that is actionable.
• Assess current engagement levels by seniority, generations and industry.
• Evaluate the role that leaders play in driving engagement.
• Develop solutions to leverage your leaders and yourself.
• Outline the key drivers of individual employee engagement.
• Understand the implications of engagement for your organization and how to best create an environment in which employees want to engage.

What else would be useful for you to know out of this webinar?

Today on Compensation Café: Signs Your Recognition Program Is in Trouble

Recognize This: If people aren’t appreciating each other, your employee recognition program is a failure.

Check out my post on Compensation Café today, Signs Your Recognition Program Is in Trouble, in which I discuss three signs you know your employee recognition program isn’t working:

1) A visitor’s reaction to the general atmosphere upon crossing the threshold is, “I’m glad I don’t work here.”

2) A consultant is the first person to make a 28-year employee feel like his thoughts and opinions are valuable and listened to.

3) Employees aren’t participating in the program, no matter how good you think your recognition and rewards program is.

In the post, I dive more deeply into the drivers behind these signs of program failure and what you – at any level in the organization – can do about it.

I also mention our own survey results, announced today:

“The first semi-annual report for the Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker shows recognition ambivalence among today's employees in the United States. While 68 percent of those surveyed feel appreciated at their jobs, an alarming 41 percent of workers are not satisfied with the level of recognition they receive for doing good work. Indicative of both the infrequency and non-personal nature of many of today's employee recognition programs, 43 percent of U.S. workers had not been recognized in the past three months. More importantly, a startling 55 percent felt they were not rewarded according to job performance, indicating a critical disconnect between recognition and performance.”

These results parallel findings from a SmartBrief on Workforce poll earlier this month in which only 15% agreed their incentive program is effective.

Click over
to Compensation Café and let me know -- What signs of a recognition program in trouble have you seen? What are your recommendations to fix such a program?

Take Charge Now BEFORE Your Best People Walk Out the Door

Recognize This: Your best people are planning on leaving as soon as they can. What are you going to do about it now?

Your best people are planning on leaving as soon as they can. The evidence is piling up. Now the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) is reporting:

“Our most recent data clearly show that employee distraction, demoralization and disengagement are at an all-time high. In fact, the statistics for high performers -- the best and brightest talent -- are equally alarming, with nearly a third planning to leave their current jobs within the next 12 months.”
Think about your staff for the moment. Categorize them in your mind so you’re considering your truly top performers. One-third are leaving in the next year. Try to imagine how the work will get done as well without 1/3 of your top performers. How’s that picture look?

Why You Should Care

CEB continues: “It will be extremely difficult to expand revenue and productivity with a workforce that is unfocused and under-performing, or if turnover becomes a concern.”

Your best performers are often your leaders in the office as well – good attitudes, a willingness to coach others. Lose those people and the ones remaining will certainly lose focus. But even before that step, Those who are just thinking of leaving are already distracted from their work with those thoughts and plans. Can you afford that?

What You Can Do about It

The CEB suggests: “Recognize and reward employee contributions: Differentiating among employees is surprisingly hard for managers but organizations must arm them with the tools and guidance to ensure that their employees feel valued for their individual achievements.”

The best tools – your company values as reasons for recognition; frequent employee recognition based on those values; the ability of any employee to recognize another based on those values.

What are you doing right now to keep you best employees? What's your company/manager/leadership doing to keep you?

What Culture Did You Create in Your Company during the Recession?

Recognize This: The good times are over for companies that took advantage of the recession on the backs of their employees.

Did you (or your company) resort to any measure necessary to survive the recession – layoffs, salary cuts or freezes, etc? Or, if your honest with yourself, did you use the recession as an excuse to perhaps trim a bit more than necessary, knowing the remaining employees would take on the additional work, for no additional pay because of their fear of losing their job, too?

If you (or your company) fall in the latter category, the day of reckoning has arrived. As reported in TLNT:

“For employers that have used the economic downturn and the scarcity of jobs to justify squeezing every drop of productivity out of workers at the expense of the employees’ mental and physical well being, this turnaround sounds a death knell, not for the companies necessarily but rather for the way they have been treating their staff.

“The end is near for those practices as well as for the peace of mind that staff will remain loyal and in place. In fact, for employers who took this tactic, voluntary turnover is almost certain to rise dramatically as their employees learn there are new outlets for their efforts and talents. In addition, these employers likely will have a more challenging time making new hires as word of their actions gets around and impacts their reputations.”

In the age of Glassdoor and the like, you can’t afford for a miserly, whip-cracking, threatening reputation to get out. Sure it may have served you well in the short-term, but payback is coming.

Good employees always know what they’re worth.
And I don’t mean just monetarily. They know they are worthy of respect, fair play, recognition and rewards for their efforts, and a work environment that encourages employee engagement.

What kind of culture have you been working in the last couple of years? Intimidation and fear or respectful and engaging? If the former, what are your career plans in the next 12 months?

The Message Is More Important than the Style

Recognize This: Don’t legislate recognition too much. Leave plenty of room for employees to express their true thoughts and emotions.

The power of recognition lies in letting employees voice their true thoughts and feelings of appreciation to their peers and colleagues. To get the most out of your strategic recognition program, give employees guidelines, but let them tell their own story of appreciation.

Possible guidelines:

1) Always include the company value demonstrated or strategic objective contributed to in the recognition message. This brings the values and objectives to life in the daily behaviors and efforts of employees.

2) Write a detailed message of appreciation expressing precisely how the person being recognized contributed and why that contribution was important within the bigger picture. This helps employees understand that their daily work has greater meaning and purpose beyond the day-to-day.

That’s it. Step back and get out of the way. Of course, we have our five tenets that underpin the success of a strategic recognition program, but as far as the daily sharing of appreciation, it’s as simple as the above.

End your week on a positive note. Share your appreciation with a colleague today.

Tell Your “Secrets” to Improve Your Career

Recognize This: If you’re not replaceable, you’re not promotable.

Last holiday season, Steve Boese related a sweet story on traditional family recipes in his HR Technology Blog.

In the post, Steve tells of his mother and her special stuffing that was venerated throughout the family.

“But no one knows how, exactly, to duplicate Mom's stuffing. She never shared the recipe, never revealed her secrets. She, I suppose, was successful in keeping 'Joan's Stuffing' as a legendary fixture in the family history. We will never have it again, because no one really knows precisely how to mix, measure, prepare, and serve the dish the way she did for all those years.

“What she did not fully understand, even if she had carefully recorded the recipe, and made sure that the next generation could precisely and honorably replicate the dish, it still would always be her dish. The stuffing, the pie, the potatoes - whatever, they are just food. The legacy of Mom and Grandma isn't about food, it's about how they took care of you, and your brothers and sisters, and everyone else that they touched. What makes me sad it that I don't think we let the Moms and Grandmas know this often enough, and they feel by clinging to their secret recipes we won't be able to forget them.”

The same is true in the workplace. When we withhold knowledge, often in an effort to protect ourselves and our “place” in the team, we also make ourselves irreplaceable. And as a boss of mine once told me, “If we can’t replace you, we can’t promote you.”

Steve’s second point is just as powerful. We don’t tell the people important to us – at home and at work – just how much they are appreciated and valued. Perhaps if we did, it’d be easier to “share the secret sauce.”

Employees Don’t Know Your Objectives & Don’t Care

Recognize This: If you want your employees to care about your strategic objectives and work to achieve them every day, you better make it clear what those objectives are in their daily work.

How about some frightening statistics to shake up the middle of your week? (Quoting from Fake Work research as cited in TLNT):

87% of employees are not satisfied with the results of their work at the end of most weeks
73% of workers say their organizations’ strategies and goals are not translated into specific work tasks they can execute.
70% of workers do not know what to do to support their organizations’ strategies and goals.
81% of workers do not feel a strong level of commitment to their organizations’ strategies.

Let’s boil that down. People don’t know what you want them to do, don’t know how to do it anyway, don’t particularly care, but at least they’re somewhat dissatisfied for it at the end of the week.

Spouting strategies does little to align employees with your goals. It’s not that employees don’t want to help the company achieve its strategic objectives. It’s that they don’t know how. That’s where strategic recognition comes in as a very powerful tool for communicating both what the company needs down and how each employee contributes to that. When you thank an employee – specifically and with details – for achieving an objective (including a description of the work and the objective) it becomes clear to the employee how they are helping.

Do you know your company’s strategic objectives? Do you know how you contribute to achieving them in your daily work? Do you care?

The Importance of Recognition Done Right

Recognize This: How you praise is as important as when.

I follow a lot of blogs in the HR and leadership space, as I’m sure you do, too. One I recently started enjoying is Respectful Workplace. A post at the end of last year has resonated so strongly with me, I must share it with you. In “The Power of Recognition,” Erica Pinsky wrote:

“Rather it is the daily practice of recognition – the thank you’s , great job, we couldn’t have gotten here without your input, you are a valued member of this team – that inspire many of us to want to continue making an effort. Let’s face it, whatever our job, task or profession, we want to know that what we are doing matters. We all want to know that others appreciate the effort we make. And unless someone is doing that on a regular basis, chances are we won’t feel valued or appreciated, which often translates to a lack of motivation and the inevitable drop in productivity.
Erica’s covered all the basics here – frequency, sincerity, timeliness – and the strong link between recognition, performance and productivity.

Wally Bock, author of the excellent Three Star Leadership blog, made a similar case, but also highlighting what should not be praised:
I do not praise thee for capacity. You do not merit praise for being smart or talented or any other gift you have received without merit or effort on your part.”
That may seem counter-intuitive, but your smarts, talents and other gifts are what you brought to the table in the first place. It’s how you choose to use those talents that merits praise and appreciation.

What do you think? Did Erica and Wally get it right? Is there anything else that should not be praised that many assume should?

Global Integration of People Systems Delivers More to Your Bottom Line

Recognize This: Global integration of talent systems delivers 38% more Return on Equity (ROE).

Why should you care if your talent management systems and programs align with your company values and strategic objectives? Simple – you’ll see a much higher return on equity (ROE).

Ernst & Young reported in the January 2011 issue of Workspan Magazine (“Think Global, Act Global,” membership required):

Companies that aligned their talent management programs with their business strategy enjoyed a 20% higher annual return on equity (ROE) over a five year period than those that did not. Returns were even more dramatic among those companies that integrated talent management programs, processes, and IT systems/processes on a global scale. These companies experienced an ROE over five years that was 38% better than those that did not.”

That’s precisely why we strongly advocate in our strategic employee recognition programs that customers:

1) Align business objectives and company values with reasons for recognition to make these come alive in the daily work of employees

2) Launch their programs to ALL employees in ALL global locations simultaneously, both to prevent any employees from feeling like “second-class citizens” if they’re not included in the initial launch, and to ensure program consistency on a global scale

3) Integrate recognition with performance management systems

Not only will you gain a much more complete and accurate understanding of how well your employees know and contribute to strategic objectives, you’ll also dramatically increase your return on equity.

Not a bad reason to go global and go integrated.

Overcoming Confusion, Fear and Complacency to Engage Employees

Recognize This: Intent without action is more than worthless – it could actually contribute to additional disengagement.

Wrapping up our week-long look at the Economist Intelligence Unit/HayGroup study on employee engagement attitudes in the board room, the greatest challenge is the same is in many initiatives – taking action.

“Strong opinions might not translate into visible action. A sizeable discrepancy exists between what companies say about the perils of disengagement and how far they will actually go to confront the problem.”

The lack of action is likely due to three reasons:

1) Confusion – too much advice from too many sources on what to tackle first, making it easier to choose to do nothing.

2) Fear – concern that the “wrong” action might be taken, making engagement worse.

3) Complacency –it’s easier to stick your head in the sand and hope it all goes away. After all, it’s not really that bad, right?

Let me make it simple for you. Employee engagement boils down to this: does the employee understand their role in the organization, realize the importance of that role to company success, and desire to contribute their all achieve that success?

Strategic employee recognition is a powerful tool for engaging employees because it communicates clearly, frequently, specifically and in a timely way to all employees, individually: what they are doing that is being done well, what is valued and appreciated by the organization, in a way that encourages the employee to want to repeat it.

And our customers have proven time and again that doing so can increase employee engagement by double digits in just 12 months. It really is that easy. Say “thank you” – specifically, meaningfully and often – and people will be more engaged with you, their team and the company as a whole.

Links to all posts on Economist Intelligence Unit/HayGroup study:
Part 1: C-Suite Blind to Reality of Employee Engagement
Part 2: The Board Must Care about Employee Engagement for Improvement to Be Seen
Part 3: Many Managers Won’t Act on Engagement Unless Empowered by the C-Suite
Part 4: Who’s the Bigger Problem: GenY or Long-Serving Staff?

Who’s the Bigger Problem: GenY or Long-Serving Staff?

Recognize This: All employees – regardless of generation or length of service – need reasons to engage with your company and strategic objectives.

Which demographic poses the greatest challenge to raising engagement levels in your organization: GenY (new) employees or “lifers” (those who have been with the organization for many years)?

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit/HayGroup study we’ve been looking at all week, the C-suite seems to have drunk the Kool-aid on GenY, believing them hardest to engage. But other senior staff believe long-serving staff are the greater challenge:

Long-serving staff pose the greatest engagement challenge. Respondents believe overwhelmingly that it is hardest to raise the engagement levels of ‘experienced and long-serving staff’. Again, however, C-suite executives reach a different conclusion from those below them. Only 27% of CEOs believe that this group presents the greatest challenge in raising engagement levels, as opposed to 57% of senior vice-presidents, heads of departments or business units. The C-suite is more likely than others to say that the under-25s represent the most problematic group of employees, in line with the current management orthodoxy surrounding Generation Y.”

As I’ve said before, GenY styles and expectations are really no different than those who preceded them – a desire to know that the work they are doing is correct, useful and meeting the requirements. Like all “new” employees, they’re often trying to “prove” themselves and their value to the organization.

For some long-serving staff, however, it can be easy to fall into a rut, even if that rut is a productive one. Once complacency settles in, how engaged are you really with your work, the customer or the company’s goals?

Of course these are broad brush strokes. I’m being overly simplistic, I know. I’m curious, though. Who do you side with? Is the C-Suite right that GenY are harder to engage? Or are the vice presidents and business heads correct that long-serving staff are more challenging?

Links to all posts on Economist Intelligence Unit/HayGroup study:
Part 1: C-Suite Blind to Reality of Employee Engagement
Part 2: The Board Must Care about Employee Engagement for Improvement to Be Seen
Part 3: Many Managers Won’t Act on Engagement Unless Empowered by the C-Suite

Many Managers Won’t Act on Engagement Unless Empowered by the C-Suite

Recognize This: People quit bosses, not companies.

That oft-quoted truism was proven once again in the Economist Intelligence Unit/HayGroup 2010 study on employee engagement we’ve been looking at this week. Another key conclusion:

Middle managers are not deemed responsible for employee engagement. The low proportion (13%) of C-suite executives who believe that line managers and middle managers are ‘chiefly responsible’ for staff engagement is unlikely to boost the people-management skills of such managers. If they are not considered responsible no matter how good or bad they are, why should they try? The potential negative repercussions could be significant, since around two in five of those not in the C-suite believe the ‘motivational ability of one’s line manager’ (the most selected survey option) to be a considerable contributor to employee motivation.”

Yes, executives are responsible for setting the vision and goals for employee engagement, but managers are responsible for executing that vision. As I wrote about last month, “managers act as coaches to facilitate their team members’ engagement journeys.”

Until executives are willing to admit that managers – and their daily actions that have repercussions on their staff engagement levels – are the linchpin in engagement (and they certainly don’t seem to now), many managers won’t feel compelled to step up.

That’s why we encourage defined KPIs for managers for employee recognition activity – a proven means of increasing employee engagement by double digits.

How do you ensure managers understand their responsibilities for the engagement of those who work for them?

Links to all posts on Economist Intelligence Unit/HayGroup study:
Part 1: C-Suite Blind to Reality of Employee Engagement
Part 2: The Board Must Care about Employee Engagement for Improvement to Be Seen

The Board Must Care about Employee Engagement for Improvement

Recognize This: If employee engagement isn’t a board-level concern, it’s not really an important initiative.

Many say the follow-through is the most important part of the golf swing. The same is true in critical corporate initiatives.

Continuing our look at the key findings of the Economist Intelligence Unit/HayGroup study on employee engagement views from the boardroom, consider this question: If engagement isn’t a board-level concern, is it really an important initiative in the company?

In our book Winning with a Culture of Recognition, we address this quite clearly. “Securing executive sponsorship” is one of our five tenets of Strategic Recognition, and “Start the Tempo at the Top” is one of the 10 tactics underpinning those five tenets. If your executive team does not believe employee engagement is a problem to be solved, or at the very least, a desirable area to invest time, measurement and efforts at continual improvement, then there is little hope of success.

A key conclusion of the Economist study is:

A significant mismatch exists between words and deeds on engagement. There are clear inconsistencies in our survey findings, which suggest that words come more easily than concrete actions. For example, 84% of survey respondents say that ‘disengaged employees’ are one of the three biggest threats facing their business. Yet it appears that little is done to identify, support or even ‘weed out’ unengaged staff. For example, only 12% of respondents report that their companies ‘regularly and often’ tackle staff with ‘continually low engagement’. Even according to C-suite executives alone, engagement is discussed ‘occasionally’, ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ at board level in 43% of companies.”

Only 12% tackle those with continual low engagement? Barely more than half address engagement at the board level? How can you claim that disengagement is “one of the three biggest threats” if you don’t invest the energy and focus at the most senior level?

Keep in mind the causation found by Gallup – engaged employees generate financial success, not the other way around. I’d think company boards would be quite interested in any *guaranteed* means of generating financial success, wouldn’t you?

Links to all posts on Economist Intelligence Unit/HayGroup study:

Part 1: C-Suite Blind to Reality of Employee Engagement

C-Suite Blind to Reality of Employee Engagement

Recognize This: If you can’t acknowledge you have a problem in the first place, you have no hope of solving it.

The Economist Intelligence Unit and HayGroup came out with very interesting research late last year: Re-engaging with Engagement: Views from the boardroom on employee engagement. This week, we’ll look at some of major conclusions of the report and how they impact you.

The C-suite displays a consistently 'rose-tinted' view of engagement that is not shared lower down the ranks. One important revelation from our survey is the huge disparity between the views of many in the C-suite and those of less senior directors, including just a single rung below board level. For example, 47% of C-suite executives believe that they themselves have determined levels of employee engagement, a view shared by only 16% of senior directors outside the C-suite. More than one in five in the C-suite believe that employees are ‘much more engaged’ than those in rival firms, compared with only 7% of respondents outside the C-suite.”

I see two key problems here:
1) If you’re not willing to acknowledge the problem, you have no hope of solving it.
2) Reality of a situation may be best assessed by those closest to the workers and the work being done.

What’s the reality in your organization? Does the CEO truly lead engagement efforts? Do the actions of the C-suite ultimately determine how engaged employees really are? Do you think the employees in your company are “much more engaged” than those in rival firms? What’s the “reality” from your level within the organization?

People Are Not Cogs in a Machine

Recognize This: Individuals bring much more to your workplace than their skill or ability.

In a recent post on Fistful of Talent, Josh Letourneau related the story of Bob. An average, some might even say “mediocre,” employee with no stand-out defining elements of his performance that raised a red-flag when he handed in his resignation. The HR pro figured she’d just replace Bob with a similarly skilled employee.

As Josh points out, the HR pro is missing the key trigger here. Bob is not a cog in a machine that can be switched out. Bob’s connections – his interactions with others, his conversations, his relationships – that’s what made Bob a valuable contribution to the organization. If you insist on the “machine” metaphor, losing Bob would be more equivalent to removing both the Bob “cog” and all the surrounding gears, springs and connecting wires.

Work today is more about the networks we interact in, the people we interact with as we transact business.
When we lose an employee, either through actual leaving the workplace or just disengagement in the work, we lose all they bring with their networks and interactions on a daily basis.

Let’s stop looking at our employees as parts in a machine that can be easily replaced and start noticing them for what they are – important elements to how we all work who are fundamentally caring, feeling beings who need appreciation for their work and validation that what they do has meaning.

Where you work today are you seen as a cog in a machine or important contributor within a much wider network?

I Got More Money in My Paycheck?

Recognize This: Cash rewards go unnoticed, leaving no impression on employees of your appreciation for their efforts.

To my American friends and colleagues: Did you notice the extra money in your paycheck? According to an article in last week’s Boston Globe newspaper, most didn’t.
“‘What?’ said the professor waiting for a train at South Station. ‘I get extra money?’ asked the mom with her son. ‘I didn’t realize that,’ said the guy getting his shoes shined. Three weeks after a payroll tax cut took effect, few people are noticing the extra money — $40 a week for some, $10 to $30 a week for most — that Congress put in their paychecks.”

As I’ve written many times before, cash rewards do nothing to reinforce the messages you’re trying to send. Employees often don’t even notice it in their paychecks. As one client told us after surveying their 300,000+ employees, of those that even realized they’d received a cash reward, 29% used it to pay bills and 18% didn’t remember how it was spent. Is that what you were hoping to achieve?

Or, as one Globoforce colleague of mine recently related:

“At my last company, I got a $500 bonus directly into my direct deposit account. From the time I left work to the time I arrived home, my wife saw that bonus in the bank account and went shopping with the girls. I never even saw it.”

Do you want your employees to actually notice and value the appreciation you give them? Find another way than cash to recognize them.

Generations in the Workplace

Recognize This: Increasing recognition in the workplace isn’t a solution for Gen Y employees. It’s a solution for ALL employees.

Admittedly, I know little about American Football, and even less about college football. But I was deeply intrigued by a recent post of Kris Dunn’s (the HR Capitalist) on the “Oregon Funk” of the Oregon University football team.

Apparently, Nike designs and provides a different uniform for every game. Some like them, some hate them. Or, as Kris puts it:

“Traditionalists hate the Oregon uniforms and the Oregon basketball court. I'm guessing the kids they recruit LOVE IT ALL.

“And at the end of the day, that's really all that matters, isn't it? The vibe helps them acquire talent in their demographic.”

This made me think of the ongoing discussion of Gen Y in the workplace and whether their perceived need for constant recognition and feedback is a good or a bad thing. Dan Pink’s take is:

“The problem isn’t that the Millennial are wrong. The problem is that they’re right. The workplace is one of the most feedback deprived places in modern life.”

Tying the two together, Gen Y are the new generation in the workplace. They are bringing to light a long-term problem in the workplace we’ve all come to accept as “just the way things are.” Bottom line: more recognition doesn’t benefit just Gen Y. It benefits us all.

You CAN Manage Your Culture. Behaviors Are the Key.

Recognize This: Changing and managing your culture is simple, but not easy. It begins with finding and praising the behaviors you want to underpin your culture.

We’re often asked about our book Winning with a Culture of Recognition: “Is it really possible change and proactively manage a company culture?”

Unequivocally, yes! And doing so is relatively simple. But it’s not easy.

The steps you need to take to change and manage the culture you want are fairly straightforward, as discussed quite eloquently in a recent Strategy + Business article, “Stop Blaming Your Culture,” by Jon Katzenbach and Ashley Harshak, but finding the courage, diligence and desire to take those steps is not easy.

The first step – an important realization – is that you cannot deny the power of the culture you already have. Rather, you have to find ways to work within that culture to encourage only those behaviors you want to see influence the new culture you desire and to discourage behaviors you don’t. Katzenbach and Harshak put it this way:

“You need to focus on specific behaviors that solve real problems and deliver real results. This, in turn, enables people to experience the results of thinking differently. Experience becomes a better teacher than logical argument.”

Or, for a practical example they use in the opening paragraph of the article:

“It would have been easy for Gray (new commandant of the US Marine Corps) to blame the damaged organizational culture for the problems he inherited, and to launch a formal, full-scale change initiative. But instead, he began to praise and seek out elements of the old Corps culture, such as the ethic of mutual respect.”

Seek out behaviors you desire as foundational to your culture. Praise the people demonstrating those behaviors. Repeat. Often.

Simple, but not always easy.