Easy – employee recognition and reward, done right. Bill Taylor, in a follow up article on Harvard Business Review, explains why quite well:
"How do we as leaders encourage, spread, and make more "ordinary" ways of behaving that today seem extraordinary? Are there clever ways for leaders to help their organizations become more kind?
"Those are huge questions, of course, but my basic answer is for leaders to think and act in ways that are designed to bring out the best in whomever they encounter. That is, to spend less time scoring, critiquing, and correcting colleagues who make mistakes, and to spend more time identifying and rewarding colleagues who behave the way we wish everyone would behave. Leaders who engage in relentless fault-finding can't help but lead to a culture of bloodless execution. Leaders who celebrate small acts of kindness, who reward moments of connection, give everyone permission to look for opportunities to have a genuine human impact."
The question I’m often asked is: “Yes, that’s all well and good in theory, Derek, but how do you actually put that into practice? And haven’t you found this to be easier in some industries than in others?”
My answer to the latter question is always, “No, it’s the same for all industries, as long as leadership in the company is willing to put in the effort and change their own ways to make a positive, strong culture of recognition a reality.”
As to the former question, Mr. Taylor himself offers two excellent examples from the very different industries of retail banking and police enforcement. For a third example (I like things in threes), I turn to the hospitality industry in an example related in Forbes by Kevin Kruse, author of Employee Engagement 2.0.
How Commerce Bank (now TD Bank) Did It
Mr. Taylor goes on to tell the story of TD Bank and its unique culture, especially in the traditional world of retail banking. Through the story are 3 clear lessons in employee recognition and reward to create a kinder culture:
- Define the work of leaders as reinforcing positive behavior rather than correcting behavior that falls short
- Make small acts of kindness an everyday reality.
- Leaders proactively seek to “catch somebody in the act of doing it right.”
How the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force (Richmond, BC) Did It
In this example, Mr. Taylor describes how the RCMP inspired youth in their community to trust the police and work with them, not against them:
- Change your focus from negative behaviors to positive ones
- Go out of your way to find reasons to praise and reward those at-risk who are still doing the right thing
- Police proactively seek out kids “doing something right.”
How the Taj Hotels Resorts Did It
The Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces have 109 luxury hotels employing 13,000 people committed to creating an outstanding guest experience. Many in the West, however, only know Taj Hotels from the tragic bombing of the Taj Mumbai in 2008. What you may not know is the deeper story of how those committed employees responded in the face of fear, confusion and death due to the positive culture created through strong employee recognition and rewards. (You can read that full story in another HBR article.)
For the purposes of today’s post, I’m sharing observations Mr. Kruse made in the Forbes article on how Taj built this powerful culture:
- Immediate recognition is far more effective than delayed praise (and often more important than an actual reward itself).
- Customers can share in recognizing and acknowledging outstanding employee effort.
- Supervisors are committed giving expressions of gratitude
Do you see the theme forming here? Above all else, proactively seek to catch people doing well. Praise them, recognize them, honor them and reward them.
The one addition I would make is to expand that opportunity to “catch them doing something right” to all employees, not just those in leadership roles.
What would you add to these lessons on how to do employee recognition right?
As Globoforce’s Head of Strategic Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. His articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekIrvine.