Thank You - The Value of Recognition

Peter Cook
Keynote speaker, OD and Business Consultant, Coach and Mentor
Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock
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I attended an event hosted by O.C. Tanner recently on the subject of employee recognition, appreciation and engagement. The words "Thank You", when authentically given, are so important in today's busy workplace. They are also underused in my experience. Here's some thought provoking "mini bites" from the event:

Peter Cheese - CEO of CIPD

Peter gave a fascinating and provocative review of how HR can really impact business results which was a big contrast with my last encounter with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Here are some of the many nuggets from his talk:

1. Generation Y is often criticised as having low commitment with corporate life. They have however provoked us to realise that they expect better leadership and management from their experience of work. This has put appreciation on the map.

2. The biggest challenge in Merger and Acquisition activity is bringing together corporate cultures. This too requires an appreciation of differences.

3. We have too many measures in many businesses and organisations. The average response to more measurements is to find ways round the obstacles. The theory of constraints is poorly understood in some businesses and many public sector organisations.

4. Some companies such as Virgin are leading the way in giving employees some say over how work works. Richard Branson's recent announcement re allowing employees to take as much holiday as they like is a carefully calculated symbolic gesture in this respect. It sends a powerful cultural message about self-determination and trust.

Perry Timms on Punk Rock HR

Perry Timms is an agent provocateur in the HR field and offered us a punk rock digest on the whole issue of employee appreciation. As a fellow traveller and author of Punk Rock HR, I gained the following punk rock HR insights:

1. If HR people want to have a seat at the top table, go get a seat in the canteen .... that's where you will learn more about the business.

2. HR must get digital so it starts to understand what the rest of the world is doing on social media.

3. Clayton Christiansen is a key thinker in the field of what is called disruptive innovation. I met Dr Christiansen a while ago and noted the links between his work and my micro manifesto for a makeover in HR. Pick up your copy of Punk Rock People Management to supercharge your thinking on disruptive thinking in HR in just 39 pages.

Robert Ordever - They think it's all over ... it is now

Robert is former HR Director at Fulham FC, so what role does appreciation take in a high pressured environment laced with a few ego ridden superstars and a lot of people who have to work alongside them but are not hugely rewarded for doing so?

1. The Fulham FC culture is quite humble and therefore getting people to feel proud about their achievements was quite difficult to execute. In general the strategy was rolled out incrementally, building on small wins and gradually teaching people to enjoy giving and receiving praise.

2. They instituted the consistent policy and practice of "spotting people doing things well" within the club at the core of their recognition strategy.

Jason Sullivan - Colt Technology Services

I was delighted to hear how Colt Technology Services adopted one of my key "Punk Rock HR tenets - the "simplify" approach, reducing their values down to just four elements which were bent to fit the acronym COLT, rather than using the brand as the starting point!!

Albert Einstein on "Punk Rock HR" - Keep it simple, brief and real

Ian MacKinnon - National Grid

National Grid are scrutinised to death as a public agency so every penny they spend on reward and recognition must be fully justified. Here are a few insights from his talk:

1. One interesting point of equivalence is the insight that the act of consistently saying "Thank You" is considered to be worth a 1% pay increment.

2. Once again National Grid has introduced a very simple process to encourage employees to nominate peers for an appreciation award.

3. National Grid used "pull" rather than "push" strategies to persuade hard pressed engineers to adopt appreciation strategies.

4. It took a long time. Bold predictions of two years became four years before they were able to see the impact of their recognition strategies.

For me, it all comes down to the idea that, if you want to gain high voltage performance out of people, learn to appreciate what they bring to the job.

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