Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.
Like the "Practice Random Acts of Kindness" movement this very effective tip is similar in that you need to practice it but it differs in that you absolutely must NOT be "random" about your recognition. If that sounds a bit contrived let me explain.
Where Is Your 90% Being Spent?
In my earlier posts on ramping up the "Hu" human element, we discussed that most leaders spend 90% of their time on 10% of their staff. The issue is that our tendency is to spend a large amount of time focusing on the under-performers. That being the case, the question becomes, what are you doing with that 90% of your staff who are performing at or above expectations? 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 behaviors 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 takedown. 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 behavior he wanted.
It's Non-Random - So Make a List
Of course, it won't just be one behavior 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 behaviors in a jar and each morning she would take one out and spend her day looking for that behavior in her group. She had enough behaviors on her list to last a few days and so she made sure she did not use the same item 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 behavior rather than bad behavior.
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 is good enough. 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" is, after 30 of them, it starts to get old! As well, make sure to provide the recognition as close to the behavior as possible. Waiting to say something during a monthly meeting is too long and it diminishes the effectiveness of the recognition.
Work at these things and you will be amazed at where your employee engagement goes and moreover what it will mean to your bottom line. Performance Leadership - Think About It!