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Is Recognition Cultural Rocket Fuel?

Recognizing employees for jobs well done or going beyond their duties can go a long way in improving your company’s culture.

I was walking around the office last week and one of my employees asked me what I was up to. I didn’t answer his question right away, choosing instead to ask him how he was doing, listened to an update about family and work, and then probed further, asking if there was anything that was deviating substantially from the Livewire he was promised. “No,” he replied. I thanked him for all he’d been doing for the company lately, citing several examples of stepping up or offering lateral service (doing work that’s outside someone’s normal job description).

Employee Recognition
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This is what I’m doing,” I told him after we finished our check-in. “I call it management by walking around (MBWA).” I schedule time to walk or call around to see how people are doing and feeling. Sometimes my updates are surface level, and sometimes they turn into deep dives, but either way, it’s how I keep my finger on the pulse of our culture.

I’ve been practicing MBWA for the last decade but recently it occurred to me that the recognition portion of my check-ins always seems to make the biggest difference. I thought about it a little more and theorized that there wasn’t anything else I could do to effect cultural change with such a low-cost to high-yield ratio. In many ways employee recognition mirrors the boost that comes from a well-written 5-star Google review. It’s not about you saying you’re good, but who else says so. The term for this phenomenon is “social proof” (coined by Marcus Sheridan in his book They Ask You Answer). To that end, the more public the recognition, the bigger the bang/yield.

Also by Henry Clifford – They Ask You Answer: Filling A Power Vacuum

So far, my theory is holding true. I’ve added “single out someone for recognition” to my weekly activities alongside “follow a customer issue down the rabbit hole.” My results have been amazing. If I get 52 opportunities for random praise each year, that’s 52 opportunities to learn more about what’s going on with someone’s family, personal life, and issues inside Livewire.

Why didn’t I start doing this sooner? Life has been a series of learning things the hard way and one of the reasons I write this blog is to share my experiences so maybe someone else doesn’t have to wait so long before effecting change inside their own business.

What are you doing to recognize your employees in an authentic way?

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.