February 1, 2017 in True Strength, Strengths & Weaknesses, Truth, Events (live blogging)

Global Recognition and Engagement

Jeff Birk (O.C. Tanner) – @jtbirk @octanner


OC Tanner have been around for 90 years and are the global leader in their field.  Jeff opened with a poll – done by show of hands – asking when we last received recognition. Looking around the room, the results are scary. Jeff positioned recognition and engagement as not being an end in themselves, reminding us that we’re don’t do either for the sake of having more engaged people. Rather, we do then so we can improve success. The challenge is that many people choose not to be engaged, but they choose to stay.

Recognition is different from appreciation. Recognition the action we take to covey appreciation to someone, whilst Appreciation is a feeling. Organisations who encourage great work tend to do three things really well:

  • Encourage effort: This is essential as effort precedes outcomes, builds confidence, and improves the relationship between a person and their manager. Good managers don’t need reminding of the power of praise. They seem to know instinctively that praise isn’t merely a reaction to great performance, it is the cause. (Marcus Buckingham)
  • Reward results: This encourages us to raise our game and helps us see where we make a difference. If we are going to make somebody feel appreciated, then we need to be really mindful of how we recognise and rewards the results. (This is what OC Tanner call appreciatiology)
  • Celebrate careers: This should the organisation cares, improves working relationships, and helps to develop a real sense of belonging.

Meaningful, purposeful recognition makes a huge difference, and Jeff shared a story of somebody having their career and service recognised and choosing to invite their family along, describing how the person was able to reflect on an amazing career and tell his family that he does it all for them. This is a world apart from ‘drive-by recognition’ where we simply pass on a few morsels of recognition as we wander past!

Some best practices:

  • Be frequent with recognition (at least every week or two)
  • Be timely
  • Be inclusive
  • Be performance-based so that recognition helps everybody else to see how they can develop
  • Tailor it to the culture (there are huge national/cultural variations)

Recognition with appreciation makes a huge difference if it is done well.


This was live-blogged during a session at the HR Directors Business Summit 2017 – 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. I’ve also curated the story of the session as told through the tweets of the attendees (you might need to tap ‘load more tweets’ to see the full story):



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