Recognition/Culture Mismatch

Have you ever received an award (employee recognition) that just didn’t seem to be well-thought out?

I would love to hear all your stories. Particularly I am interested in examples of awards that didn’t seem to match the culture of your organization or your team.

Here are a few examples of the mismatches I have come across in my work:

Construction company – Happy face pins

Traveling sales people – Certificate for dinner out

Recent Asian immigrants working in a manufacturing facility – employee of the month picture in lobby

In each case, the award illustrated that the organization didn’t understand their own culture.

So what about you? Do you have a story to tell?

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1 Response to “Recognition/Culture Mismatch”


  1. 1 Jim Abbondante July 18, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Genuine ‘leadership’ really is the ‘bottom line’ when it comes to providing the kind of ‘recognition’ that leads to retaining your best people. Recognition has to be ‘customized’ to the individual and it also has to be ‘varied’ in the forms it takes over time, but it must be administered in the context of leadership and what genuine leadership really is or the recognition you do provide will lack the ‘punch’ or the impact needed to achieve the desired result. There are very legitimate reasons why people join and then choose to stay with the organizations they’re part of. We discussed in a recent leadership development session the fact that the number one reason why people ‘choose’ to leave their jobs can be traced back to ineffective leadership on the part of their immediate supervisor. We referred to real statistics that confirmed the fact that people have a tendency to leave managers and supervisors more often than they leave companies or jobs. It’s certainly helpful when a manager or supervisor is perceived as being a ‘nice person’ and is well-liked by the people in his or her department, but what people really want and need is effective leadership on the part of someone they respect and they trust enough to follow. They need someone who they feel has something to impart when it comes to helping them achieve their full potential and to helping them achieve the success they desire on their job and in their career overall. When managers and supervisors make an employee feel respected, valued and also appreciated, the manager or supervisor is not only functioning more in a ‘leadership’ capacity but they are contributing to the ultimate retention of the employee. And in like manner, anything the supervisor does to make an employee feel under-valued will contribute to unwanted turnover. Probably one of the most important functions that will lead to employee retention involves letting team members know in specific terms what ‘good’ looks like, and why it’s considered ‘good’. Some of the most common complaints that have come out of exit interviews and from ‘blind’ exit surveys have included a lack of clarity regarding specific expectations, a lack of clarity regarding one’s earning potential, a lack of feedback regarding one’s performance, a lack of ‘follow through’ with regard to commitments made, canceling scheduled meetings, and a failure to create an environment that’s conducive to the employee’s achieving success; all of which reflect ineffective leadership on the part of their supervisor. In summary, one of the most important things I’ve learned over the years in this business is that ‘work’ is about the money, but true ‘loyalty’ is all about relationship and how people feel about themselves ‘on the job’ and how important they feel their contribution is to the success of the team (family), and whether or not they feel really appreciated. Effective leadership leads to retaining an organization’s most valued people. The question needs to be, “what can a leader do to make an ever bigger difference in the life of his or her people?” Connecting with people, challenging and appreciating people – and remembering to say ‘thank you’ will be the leader’s key to retaining their best people. ‘Leadership’ really is ‘the bottom line’ in the people business! Out of fairness to you Cindy, I’m probably preaching to the choir here. You’ve probably already communicated these important principles in your book. Based on what I have seen here (on your site), my plan is to secure a copy and and recommend it to our clients as a must read as ‘recognition’ is an extremely important topic. (Leadership-The Bottom Line happens to be the name of our unique approach to the development of effective leaders. Feel free to contact me (Dr. Jim) for free leadership development materials or for a free leadership session at your location. We’re happy to share!)


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My name is Cindy Ventrice. I am the author of the best-selling book Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works and the companion guide Recognition Strategies That Work.

My work has been quoted in The New York Times, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Workforce Magazine, and Tim Sanders' book The Likeability Factor.


Visit my website www.maketheirday.com today!


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