Dawn Smedley (O.C. Tanner) opened by telling us how much appreciation matters. When we tell people what they do, it elevates everything (engagement, great work, culture, results, innovation, talent). We watched a video exploring what might happen if we stopped telling our loved ones that we love them and replace that with an annual ‘thank you’ banquet. It was a lovely illustration of what often happens in organisations where people get thanked for their performance at their annual review!

Dawn defined appreciation as the feeling that we have for others, and recognition as being the act of doing something and expressing the feeling. There are three essential ways to appreciate great work (and it is important that we have frequency and reach in all of them):

  • Encourage effort – say thank you for people doing their daily value-creating activities
  • Reward results – Focus on outcomes and celebrate great performance
  • Celebrating careers – To celebrate an individual’s contribution over time

What is the most important thing your manager or company does (or could do) to cause you to produce great work? In a survey, 7% said pay me more, 6% said train me, and then….

  • 12% – inspire me
  • 12% – give me autonomy
  • 13% – nothing – I’m self motivated
  • 37% – recognise me

78% of employees are highly engaged when they receive strong recognition. In an OC Tanner survey, 26% of managers were already finding ways of giving recognition, 32% of managers were skeptical, but 42% were very receptive (and only need a little bit of encouragement to start doing great recognition).

Dawn talked about how we would say thank you to our grandma for Sunday lunch; we wouldn’t hand her a £20 note. Rather, we would do something meaningful with love (such as flowers, or chocolates). Similarly, organisations need to make sure that recognition has real meaning and is sincere (and links to the organisational vision, mission, and values).

Employees most benefit when some type of recognition is delivered every 7 days. Stopping by to say thanks really counts (Gallup research).

Dawn closed by challenging us to make recognition a culture, not just an initiative. We do need to be the change we wish to see in the world… and keep on doing it! Culture change takes a while, but the benefits are huge.

Here is a storify summary of the session through the eyes of those tweeting from the session:

 

 

(This was live-blogged during a session at the CIPD Northern Area Partnership in York 17-18 June 2016 – I’ve tried to capture a faithful summary of the highlights for me but my own bias, views – and the odd typo – might well creep in.)