Caught In The Act
By: Jody Urquhart
|Author of “All Work & No SAY," Jody Urquhart, www.idoinspire.com, speaks at meetings and conventions on How to Build a Passionate & Commiteed Workplace. To book Jody to speak at your next meeting email her at email@example.com.|
“This project was my baby for over a year. After all the hours I invested, management had the nerve to pat me on the back and give me a cheap gold pen. How patronizing! I have news for them—I didn’t do all that hard work for empty praise or a cheap prize. I did it because I’m the best person for the job. I wanted to see it happen and it did. This makes it feel like my accomplishments are ordinary. I didn’t just fix the fax machine or something.”
Everybody likes to be acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts. Or do they? Most companies have a formal way of acknowledging employees with such things as annual award banquets, top sales awards and certificates. There are a couple major pitfalls to these programs:
- the reward is handed down from management and reinforces imbalances in
- it can be patronizing to receive a small award for a large accomplishment;
- the accomplishment is often a team effort. It fosters resentment when just
one person gets the reward;
- it creates competition;
- the most common flaw of award programs is they often reward people for doing work they were supposed to do anyway.
A Culture of Appreciation
How do you acknowledge others? To answer this, consider a company with an attitude of appreciation that is a routine part of every day. Everyone is continually appreciating everyone else. You don’t have to be a manager to acknowledge someone else. Employees are aware of the specific projects or roles their colleagues are involved in and what their strengths are, and are on the lookout to catch people doing well. This culture assumes people are out to do their best and regularly notices them doing it. Sincere and genuine appreciation is forthcoming. Employees are at their best because their standards of excellence are their own.
Keys to Better Performance
How do you create this kind of a culture of appreciation?
- Avoid awards that set people apart from each other, such as programs for
the top sales person. Only one person can win this award, so only few will
try. It also separates winners from losers. Instead have employees aim
at beating their own sales from the previous month;
- let employees set their own goals, help them understand how it helps the
team and company, and acknowledge their contribution;
- encourage employees to acknowledge others daily. Set up an informal network,
like a newsletter or bulletin board where people can brag about their colleagues;
- give employees the opportunity during meetings to talk about what they
accomplished that week. In other words, let them brag about themselves;
- recognize people for their strengths on more than specific projects or
achievements. How does each individual’s strength contribute to the team
as a whole?
- make every employee aware of other’s strengths and give them a chance to
learn from one another;
- continually recognize the achievements of the group as a whole. Savor the
feeling of achievement;
- reinforce the value of the work itself. How employees function contributes
to the community and their customers;
- celebrate the vision of where the company is going and how the group, made
up of the individuals in it, is helping get there;
- design incentives to award departments as a whole, where everyone is awarded for the group’s accomplishments.
Companies with an attitude of appreciation are proud of the achievements of all employees and departments. They are aware of the strengths of each individual in helping realize the corporate vision. Communicating this vision is their strong point. Acknowledging people this way can dramatically change the way people interact with each other and with customers
© Copyright 2001 Jody Urquhart
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