Like the "Practice Random Acts of Kindness" movement this last and very effective tip is similar in that you need to practice it (that is be intentional) but it differs in that you absolutely must NOT be "random" about your recognition. If that sounds a bit contrived to you let me explain.
Where Is Your 90% Being Spent?
In my earlier posts on ramping up employee engagement we discussed that most leaders spend 90% of their time on 10% of their staff. The issue being that our tendency is to spend a large amount of time focussed on the under-performers. That being the case the question becomes what are you doing with those 90% of your staff who are performing at or above expectation? If we are honest while there "may" be the occasional recognition for the most part with this group "no news is good news." The reality is that "no news is no news" and believe me they know it. This is the group you should be focussing on to drive performance.
Do You Know What You Are Looking For?
Connected with focussing on the performing group is the idea that you should know what you are looking for. What are the behaviours that you want that drive performance? In one case a supervisor wanted his Crew Cabbers (outside leadership) to be instructing and mentoring crews during set up and take down. It was too easy for them to take over and go "butt up and head down" doing the work that the crew should have been learning and doing. So a rule was implemented that Crew Cabbers were not to be seen doing work but teaching and supervising work. One cold February morning as a crew was setting up the Superintendent looked at me and said "look at that, John (the names have been changed to protect the innocent - lol!) is actually teaching that guy instead of doing it for him!" With that he went outside and gave "John" a hearty pat on the back and even brought it up later at the leadership meetings. The supervisor knew what he was looking for and so it was easy for him to spot and recognize the behaviour he wanted.
Its Non-Random So Make A List
Of course it won't just be one behaviour it will be several and so you should make a list to be sure you don't miss anything. In one case the head of a corporate group had a list of behaviours in a jar and each morning she would take one out and spend her day looking for that behaviour in her group. She had enough behaviours on her list to last a few days and so she made sure she did not use the same one two days in a row. Her group did not know she was doing this but she reported to me what a huge difference it made in their performance and how much more satisfying it was to "hunt" for high performing behaviour rather than bad behaviour.
Make The Recognition Meaningful And Change It Up
Here is where the other tips can make this part easier. Through your listening, micro-meetings, tracking and accountability you should have come to know your people pretty well. Make sure your recognition is something they will appreciate and respond positively to. For some a thank you is good enough for others it might be the chance to sit on a committee and for others a "well done" during a meeting. The point is "know" your people so that naming someone at a meeting doesn't cause them to want to crawl under the table and disappear. Be creative in how you provide your recognition and don't let it get stale - as good as a "pat on the back" may be after 30 of them it starts to get old - lol! As well make sure to provide the recognition as close to the behaviour as possible. Waiting to say something during a monthly meeting could be too long and it diminishes the effectiveness of the recognition.
Those are my 5 Easy Tips For Ramping Up Employee Engagement - Micro-Meetings, getting staff to track Personal Performance Measures, keeping your team Accountable, Listening and practicing Non-Random Acts of Recognition. Work at these things and you will be amazed at where your employee engagement goes and moreover what what will mean to your bottom line. Performance Leadership - Think About It!