A Thank You Note That Generated The Biggest Raisin Cookies Ever

It is amazing when you look back at life. You can see root beginnings of getting into the professional field you ended up in.

Where did this interest in employee recognition begin for me? I often thought it was because of my experience in healthcare and seeing the poor effect of non-specific feedback with patients. 

Maybe it had its beginnings even further back. 

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How To Conduct Estimation Analyses of Recognition Practices and Programs

Organizational leaders often want to know the impact recognition has on people centered metrics. To find out how their recognition practices or their recognition programs have on measures like employee engagement or employee retention can cost a great deal if running a full scientific and analytical evaluation. 

One way to ease the cost burden and still collect a powerful indicator is to conduct estimation analysis. Estimation analysis is a simple method to analyze data, employee perceptions, and interpret results. 

It is important to remember that in conducting estimation analyses, that you are using an imprecise science to calculate the level of impact, or perhaps the amount of improvement gained. 

Consider how you could use estimation analysis in your review of employee recognition practices and programs in your organization. 

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Top 10 Ways to Give Better Recognition Than Anyone Else

Imagine if each person gave recognition just one percent better than the last time that they recognized someone. That’s all it takes to enhance your recognition practices and optimize the usage of your recognition programs. One percent improvement is all it takes. And here are some ways for you to give better recognition than anyone else every day. 

  1. Start your workday off by sending out or giving a thought of gratitude. Even if it is only one person you communicate with, imagine the difference you will make. Don’t open up your email inbox until you have emailed a message or spoken gratitude to someone.
  2. Actively smile whenever you greet someone and especially when you recognize them. Whether face-to-face or virtually through the various video conference tools, a smile engages people and sends positive, emotional, non-verbal communication.
  3. Ensure you make eye contact with people you express recognition to. When two people make eye contact when communicating, their brains actually synchronize emotional brainwaves and it enhances the receptiveness to what they said.
  4. Be enthusiastic and use a positive tone of voice when verbally recognizing others. A positive tone of voice conveys the words communicated in a healthier and better way. Work to be more excited about the recognition you give, and people will feel it.
  5. Use the person’s name in the text boxes of your online recognition programs. It is easy to neglect using a person’s name in an online program because you have selected who the message or ecard is going to. But people read the message in the box, so use it.
  6. In text, writing, or speech, tell people specifically what you’re recognizing them for. Refrain from using the too short and sweet generic statements with your recognition. Tell them exactly what it was you noticed that impressed you. They really want to know.
  7. In the same manner, be specific about how the person’s actions impacted others. Too often people do not know how their positive actions affected others. Share the impact their behaviors had on a peer, a customer, their boss, or for the company.
  8. Work on using positive vocabulary versus neutral words when recognizing people. Stop using words like, “good job” or “well done.” The words “good” and “well” are neutral. And being more specific, eliminates “job,” and “done”. Get more creative. Be amazing!
  9. Leave a voice mail message for someone expressing your thanks for their work. Try after hours to leave a voice mail message expressing your appreciation for the work an employee has done. It may surprise you how long people keep these messages and replay them.
  10. Write a well written thank-you card or note to recognize people each day. If you write one card or note a day to any employee in the organization who has affected you, you will make a tremendous difference. Those cards become keepers, and people often reread them.

Telling People The Difference Their Actions Make Is Important

In life, I strive for a basic level of minimalism. I still have a lot of things, but I continually get rid of some things I no longer need or use so I can focus more on what’s most important to me­—such as family, friends, joy, and freedom. Minimalism can make a real difference.

However, when expressing recognition to the people you and I work with, there is no need for minimalism with how you communicate your praise and appreciation to them. That means, as I have said before, that those meaningless, short phrases like “good job” and “well done,” don’t work. 

If you’re still using them, you’ve gone too far with decluttering your recognition messaging. 

This post is all about showing you the importance of telling people the difference their positive actions make on others. 

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The Most Important Thing You Need To Make Recognition Happen

Most recognition strategies and plans for recognition depend on moving the bar on whatever metrics you have for program usage and employee perception of recognition. 

The gap analysis of where your recognition status is today and where you want it to be tomorrow relies on the program metrics you have. The challenging part about program usage metrics is that they are all lagging indicator measures.  

Lagging indicators do just that, they lag behind on indicating whether you achieved the results you wanted. By the time you get the output measures on a program, it’s hard to do anything about them that will make a future change.

Is there anything you can really do that can change this? Is there one important thing you can do that will make recognition happen?

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Build Your Recognition Programs From the Bottom Up

Designing and developing recognition programs take a lot of thought, planning, and creativity.

The best way I can recommend beginning is to consider the distinct programs falling under a pyramid. And like building most structures, the foundation is critical because it holds everything built on top of it.

That’s why you build your recognition programs from the bottom up. 

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Teach Your Leaders How To Be Exemplary Recognizers

Recognition does not come naturally to everyone.

Leaders at the top of your organization should show the leadership competency skills that they expect from their direct reports. Leaders should help others to lead.

But that isn’t always the case.

Your goal for each organizational leader is to get them to inspire and value the contributions of one additional person every day.

How do you teach your leaders to be amazing recognizers of your staff?

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How Do You Know When to Recognize or Reward Someone?

The question of when to recognize a person, or whether what they have done merits being rewarded, is a common issue especially for managers.

I believe you must start with defining what you mean by recognition and what rewards are first. Once there is agreement throughout the organization on these two definitions, you will be in much better shape to guide and prescribe when to use each of them appropriately.

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This Is What Awesome Recognition Looks Like

Some people seem to be just a natural when they are out and about in the company as far as appreciating people for who they are and recognizing the wonderful contributions made by employees.

There will always be others who have a much harder time in recognizing others. For whatever reasons, such as not being recognized as a child, perhaps more introverted, or plain uncomfortable with knowing what to say or do, recognition doesn’t happen.

But the great news is that giving awesome recognition to people is a skill anyone can learn.

When you know what something hard to do looks like, such as a new skill you have to learn, observe those people that do it well. Then all you have to do is reverse engineer how they do the task or skill and then you can replicate this ideal performance and do it yourself.

What does awesome recognition look like? How can you learn to master this art and science of giving meaningful and effective recognition?

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How Adding Time and Effort Actually Enhances Your Rewards

I have always been a big advocate of the fact that it’s the quality of your recognition that makes it a big deal.

Time and time again, I have witnessed how when you put more of a personal touch into the recognition and rewards you give, the more meaningful and effective the effect will be on the recipient and on their performance. 

I have summed this principle up before by saying, when you give people recognition you don’t have to give them a reward; when you give people a reward, you must always accompany it with recognition.

Now I have a social science experiment to share with you that validates this principle.

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