Guest Blog courtesy Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified, www.greatnessmagnified.com
Many people believe recognition is the leader’s job. Well, no wondering it’s not sustainable and most organizations’ recognition scores are through the floor! We’ve worked in industries (e.g., healthcare) where it’s not uncommon for a leader to have 100+ direct reports. Now, does this sound sustainable to you? Even if “span of control” is reasonable, it is still much more empowering when we all embrace the opportunity to practice meaningful daily recognition. And that means it comes from colleagues and leaders alike.
Build Peer Recognition into the Fabric of Organizational Life
An exceptional virtual recruitment company in the US, Decision Toolbox (DT), has mastered recognition at staff, client and organizational levels. Two examples: DT publishes peer recognition in every internal newsletter, word-for-word, no editing, and there is no shortage of content (they’re not reminding or begging staff to send it in…they can’t wait to share it and read it!) They have awards where peers can nominate a colleague about the things they want to see more of; since they believe everyone learns more from their mistakes, they have the “Biggest Oops” Award where they celebrate and learn from mistakes together.
In an organization we worked for, we fed the CEO great stories people had shared with us about their colleagues (such as in workshops) so he could surprise people by acknowledging something specific at quarterly all-staff meetings. Some teams began staff meetings with “what worked well this week” to set a tone for success for the meeting. Others teams began their day with a stand-up meeting where people acknowledged a colleague about something they did the day before (lending a helping hand, providing information, being listening ear). Talk about healthy spillover of the things that worked from the day before, making it more likely they will continue!
Keeping an Eye on the Prize
As we have mentioned in a previous post, the difference between high recognition cultures and low are vastly different; perhaps ironically, the secret to higher satisfaction with senior leaders, continuous improvement focus and organizational trust is when recognition is “owned” by everyone rather than just leadership. Why? Organizations build trust when their motives for building a strong recognition culture of their talent is authentic; who can attach ego to valuing and fueling peer-to-peer recognition? All of a sudden it’s not the leader’s show; it’s the shared sense of community. We learned this lesson from Jim Collins in Good to Great years ago – only a few leaders can create organizations that remain sustainable long after their tenure is up because they get it’s not about them; fueling strong cultures in ways like this, we would suggest, is yet another way of creating sustainable organizational success.
Showcasing recognition that happens when no one is watching makes it clear there isn’t an agenda for the act of recognition but that it is a gesture of genuine humanity. What could you do starting today to further fuel your peer recognition culture? Creating healthy cultures takes everyone’s effort, so naturally, that means recognition is everyone’s responsibility.
Getting Started or Revving Your Peer Recognition Up a Notch!
The goal is for everyone to intentionally look for any opportunity for meaningful recognition, to not lose any opportunity to acknowledge it. If you’re just getting started, a great place to start is to explore with staff or peers the importance of sharing that positive energy and feedback. What might it be like if this happened more? Weekly, daily, or dare we suggest, hourly? What might our workplace be like as a result? How and when are we already doing this? How could we do even more of this or better? What will it look like in three months time when we are successful? What will our culture, retention, and workflow be like in a year from now as a result? What is your next step?
Excerpt from “Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness: Solution Focused Strategies for Satisfied Staff, High Performing Teams and Healthy Bottom Lines” now available through Amazon, Chapter.Indigo or www.greatnessmagnified.com (for an autographed copy).
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