Every Employee Satisfaction and Motivation survey I see indicates people want more recognition.
Execs and managers scratch their heads, wondering what else they could do.
Why don't the current, seemingly abundant methods meet the need?
My theory: we leave too much on the shoulders of the executives. Sure, they should do their part -- but they make up, what? 1% 10% 20% of a company? What if the model was turned around? Set the expectation that the other 99% 90% or 80% should recognize often as well! Then you will have 100% of the company involved in the recognition process, and, eventually, people will truly know, see, and hear they are making a difference on a much more frequent basis.
I believe the big breakthrough for "people management" is in the Peer Model in this Knowledge Era of the 21st Century. Create an environment where leadership happens at every level -- and you will have more of everything you want.
Imagine: An individual contributor serving customers better, inventing better ways to do things, telling his peers what an awesome job they're doing ... and multiply this magical CEO dream by the number of your workforce.
Kudos for Oracle for doing more of this new model. On their internal social network, they have a ticker running constantly called "Kudos" where anyone is welcome to recognize anyone else. Why hide the "thanks" in an email? Share it for all to see!
Following is an example on how a peer effort at EMC was a 360 degree win for everyone involved -- and took no Presidential decree, or even an ounce of money, to make happen.
*****The Case Study ****
A group of folks at the company had the idea to film the inventors/employees of an industry breakthrough, which resulted in one of the most successful products at our company. The breakthrough happened over twenty years ago, and the product platform which resulted from it is still contributing millions in revenue to the company. In fact, you can likely not go a day in your life without this product somewhere storing, moving, or managing the digital bits of on-line information that make up your life. YET, it was realized, no one at the company had yet to document the story on film -- or truly recognize to a notable extent the people behind the breakthrough.
So with that, it was decided by people who had never done this before, to set up a round table with these inventors and record it with a Flip Camera to ensure this story got captured.
Flash forward a bit. Another individual employee, Tom Bennett, having nothing to do with PR, HR, or Marketing of any sort in his official job, let it be known to someone familiar with this "inventor story" footage that he was a movie maker/producer/editor in his spare time, and would like to help the company if there was a need for such skills.
The following short, documentary-story-telling video was edited and produced by Tom. A company engineer by day, he was able to converse with the featured engineers in their terms to understand the truly potent segments and pull out supporting clips and collateral to help tell the story. He did this on his own time.
The result? Recognition for inventors Mark Lippitt, Bob Solomon, Dave DesRoches, and Steve Todd -- and the contribution their breakthrough had on EMC, and the industry. ALSO: Culture-Building. People displaying their passions, and making use of passions whether they are related to their obvious day job or not. Oh, and, in total, making the company a much warmer, nicer place. All for Free. Now consider if everyone at your company felt empowered to help make this type of magic happen. Money doesn't drive recognition. It is the environment that says, "Go ahead! You're empowered! Spread the Good News."
This film got its worldwide debut in a distribution titled, "Leadership in Action," to all 42,000 company employees spread over 85 countries. It was released on YouTube the same day and currently boasts a viewer review of 4 stars. :) The film and the story currently lives in the "Culture Talk" community of the company's internal social network, where people can converse with the inventors and discuss memories they shared from that pivotal point of our industry.
A few months ago, Harvard Business Review posted this article, titled, "Four Simple Ways to Make Your Employees Happier." It seems to ring true against the backdrop of this little case study as well.
----------- Talk Back ----------------
What is your view on recognition? Is there merit to everyone putting a little bit in the game?
-- Polly Pearson