Archive for the 'performance' Category

Hate Micromanaging? Try Employee Recognition!

A manager recently wrote:

“I am usually reminded that I haven’t been offering enough recognition  when an employee who especially craves recognition seeks me out on matters he generally sees to for himself.”

 I am often asked, “How much recognition is enough?” While there is no definitive answer, this manager has found a gauge that works for her. When this employee shows up in her office it means the team needs an infusion.

Why does employee self-initiative act as such a great indicator? Because employee recognition reduces the need for micro-managing. With enough recognition, people are confident and motivated. They know what you want, and they want to give it to you.

So many managers complain that people won’t think for themselves. These tend to be the same managers who think that recognition is a waste of their time. They believe they should focus on what is wrong in order to help people get better.

The manager who wrote this note knows better. She has experienced the direct correlation between self-initiative and recognition. When she sees a drop in that initiative she knows it is time spread a little appreciation around.

Copyright 2009 Cindy Ventrice

Upcoming Engagements

I  want to point your attention to a some upcoming engagements. Please keep in mind that if I am already coming to your area, a presentation to your organization can be a very budget-friendly investment.

You can register for any of the programs with links. The links will provide more information on costs, if any.

Advantage Personnel, Santa Clara, CA – March 19, 2009
Small Budget, Big Payback: Employee Recognition During Challenging Economic Times
SHRM Staffing Conference Las Vegas, NV – April 29, 2009 
Recognition Preferences of the Emerging Workforce
Recognition Professionals International – Naples, FL, May 4, 2009
Recognition Preferences of the Emerging Workforce
Unbound Ideas – web seminar May 12, 2009 
Generational Preferences in Recogniton
NACCB – Redwood Shores, CA – May 12, 2009 – Small Budget, Big Payback
CSP – San Mateo, CA – May 14, 2009 – Small Budget, Big Payback

Employee Recognition: Small Budget, Big Payback

I’ve been working on a program I’ll be giving in Santa Clara on March 19th. The topic is employee recognition in a down economy. I am finding that many organizations don’t realize that recogniton doesn’t have to suffer because budgets have been slashed. In fact recognition becomes even more critical as morale is battered from so many directions.

There are two main points I plan to clarify for participants.

1) Recognition Doesn’t Have to Cost a Dime

With all the press about extravagant events, I am finding that it is even more important to talk about the difference between rewards and recognition. Employee appreciation events are rewards. Bonuses and incentives are rewards. Even company logo t-shirts are rewards (although they are not always appreciated rewards).

Recognition is an act, not a thing. Recognition doesn’t cost anything. Sometimes recognition is accompanied by a reward, but most of the time it is a thank you, praise, a new challenge, being trusted to do the right thing, or simply working with someone who knows you and what you bring to the team.

2) The Returns Are Enormous

The payback for offering meaningful recognition, for creating programs that make people feel visible and valued, is a workforce that is resilient, motivated, and highly productive. There are statistics and ancedotes a plenty to prove the value of good recognition.

Small budget, big payback. What more could you want?

Employee Recognition Resolutions for 2009

The New Year is traditionally a time for making positive changes. Many people resolve to quit smoking, exercise more, or eat less.

If you are a manager, why not make a workplace New Year resolution this year? There are things you can do that will improve employee attitudes, enhance service, product quality, and safety. Small changes can create big results.

I am offering the same seven resolutions that I offered last year because they are simple and will produce positive results.

1) I will resolve to spend at least 15 minutes each day simply listening to what my employees have to say. I will learn, among other things, what interests them, how they like to be recognized, and how they would improve their job.

Managers spend so much time ‘telling’ they can forget the value of listening. When I’ve asked employees to tell me what their managers do that makes them feel valued, listening is always high on the list.

2) I will resolve to connect the individual’s contribution to the organization’s objectives.

Many employees see no connection between the work that they do and the work of the organization. It is difficult for employees to feel motivated when they don’t understand the importance of their roles.

As the manager, you can connect the dots between what the employee does and what the organization does. Think about the organization’s mission, vision, and goals and how that translates to your department. Then distill that down to the individual employee. Communicate the connection at every opportunity.

3) I will resolve to offer five times more praise than corrective feedback.

Gallup research shows that 5:1 is the ideal ratio for increasing engagement. This can seem like a lot of praise, especially if you have a mediocre performer.

To provide the optimum blend, think in terms of acknowledging milestones, incremental progress, strengths, and valued behaviors. Show appreciation for additional effort, sense of humor, attitude, and a willingness to speak up about concerns.

You can even offer a positive word when giving corrective feedback. End the conversation by expressing confidence in their ability to change.

4) I will resolve to take one employee to lunch every week.

If you have a very small team, once a month may work. Try to get to everyone at least once in the first six months. During lunch, let your guest talk about whatever he or she wishes. Whatever you do, don’t make the lunch into a performance review!

5) I will resolve to put up a recognition white board and use it to note accomplishments.

Place a big white board and some dry erase pens in the cafeteria or another area where people congregate. Write notes of praise and appreciation to the team and to individuals. Encourage people to use the board for peer recognition as well. Erase items after about a week so that the notes are fresh and interesting. This will keep people coming back to read what has been written. (Idea courtesy of the BC Lottery, BC Canada).

6) I will resolve to identify a learning opportunity for every employee.

This doesn’t mean you have to send everyone to a costly seminar. Consider cross-training, new responsibilities, or even self-study. One of the top reasons people stay with a manager and stay engaged is because they feel challenged. Opportunities to learn is a prime motivator.

Find a way for each person to learn and grow that will improve their skills and level of engagement.

7) I will resolve to greet every employee I encounter, making eye contact and smiling, no matter how rushed I feel.

Does this sound too simple to be effective? Remember that employees want to be recognized and that at its most basic that means seeing and acknowledging the person. This takes virtually no time, but if you aren’t in the habit of doing it, it can make all the difference in the world.

Fast and Simple

Each of these seven resolutions takes no more than, on average, fifteen minutes per day. I know, I know that’s fifteen minutes that you  don’t have to spare. However, if you find the time, take the time, make the time, employees will make you glad that you did.

Choose one and try it on for six months. I promise you will see changes that result in improved attitudes and productivity.

Need reminders to make the habit stick? Sign up for free weekly recognition tips!

Copyright Cindy Ventrice 2007

Helping Your Organization Through Difficult Times with Employee Recognition

Employee recognition is critical to maintaining morale during difficult economic times. When employees feel valued your organization can not only survive, but often thrive during a downturn.
If you have read Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works you might remember the story of Remedy, the company that coped with economic hardship and parent company scandals, and managed to come through it with improved customer service, increased revenue, and steady employee morale.
To make this happen they needed a culture of recognition, and this leads us to some good news and some bad news.

Bad news: You can’t achieve this level of engagement with gift cards or an employee of the month award. Program development must be built on a rock solid foundation and adhere to the principles of meaningful recognition.
Good news: You can achieve an energized work environment without investing a lot of money. The key is getting real buy in for your recognition initiative, building skills, developing a solid plan, and creating a memorable communication campaign.
You can create a positive recognition culture!

Bad news: Private consulting on making effective culture change can be costly. Chances are good that you don’t have the budget right now to have an expert oversee a full-scale culture change. I know for many of my readers working for small businesses and nonprofits, this was never  an option.
Good news (and yes, a rare sales pitch) There is an alternative that your organization can afford. For only $299*, you and your colleagues can attend a weekly webinar series, six sessions in all, where you will learn the basics of designing and implementing a recognition initiative.
Group size is restricted to allow for plenty of interaction during the sessions. You will be able to ask questions of me and I will ask questions of you so that we can address the unique needs of your organization. To be able to offer this level of personal assistance I need to limit participation to 25 organizations (through conference room access you can have as many people within your organization participate in the webinars as you like).
This is a popular program and because I only run it once per year, you will want to register soon.
Tools, guides, and assessments. The webinar series includes lots of materials that will help you with your program.
You will receive:
Cost of Turnover Worksheets
Executive Commitment Checklist
Catalysts for Manager Commitment
Training Needs Assessment
A copy of Recognition Strategies that Work
24 Questions to Ask Before You Design
Implementation Tables
Sample Timeline to Rollout
Private consultation included: In addition to the six-hour course you will receive five assignments that will help you prepare your initiative. When you turn in the assessments and planning documents (one set per organization) I will review them and provide you with my analysis, in essence a private consultation on each of five topics.
When you complete the course your organization will also receive a half-hour private phone consultation that you can use anytime within the following six months.

If you have been considering a recognition program–
If you are concerned about hanging on to your top performers–
If you need maintain morale in spite of layoffs–
this isn’t an opportunity you can afford to pass up!

I hope you can join me.
Designing & Implementing Recognition Programs That Work
January 6-February 10, 2009. $299 *plus long-distance charges. This six-week web series covers everything from buy in to project planning. Part workshop, part private consultation, this is most cost-effective way to initiate a recognition program. Click here for more information

Improve Employee Performance with Improv

A few days ago my friend, Marshall Goldsmith posted an interview we did regarding using improvisational theater to improve a managers’ ability to recognize employees effectively, and thereby improve performance.

You can read his Business Week blog post here.

If you haven’t yet read his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, I highly recommend it. You will find it in the recommended reading listings.

All the best,

Cindy Ventrice

A Scenario for Your Consideration

Can of Worms

Here is a scenario for you to think about and comment on:

The Employee Perspective. Veronica is a 23 year old registration clerk in a large university. She has worked there for five years and has always received top performance reviews. Veronica is organized, efficient, friendly and well-liked by her peers. She always goes out of her way to help others solve problems. She has had great ideas for improving the department. She knows that her manager likes her ideas because he has implemented several.

While she enjoys the work she does, particularly her interactions with the students, she dreams of moving into management.

The Manager’s Perspective. Omar has managed Veronica for the past four years. He has had frequent conversations with her about the quality of her work (excellent) and always recommends her for the maximum merit increases.

Omar is frustrated because, in spite of all his positive feedback, it seems like the only thing Veronica can think about is her goal of becoming a manager. Omar avoids the subject with Veronica because, frankly, it is rare for supervisor level position to open at the University. Theirs is a very flat organization. In their group there is only one management position, Omar’s. He is afraid that if he talks about the lack of promotion opportunity, Veronica will begin looking for another job.

The Recognition. Omar presents Veronica with a five-year service award at a team meeting. He talks about all of her strengths and accomplishments in front of her peers. After Veronica receives the award, her work seems to suffer. Her attitude, while not exactly poor, certainly isn’t anywhere near as enthusiastic as it once was.

She does her job but doesn’t go beyond what is expected of her.

Your Analysis

1) Assuming the award triggered Veronica’s attitude change, why do you think that happened?

2) What role do you think Veronica’s age plays in the problem?

3) Which of the four elements of recognition is most lacking for Veronica?

4) What could Omar do to offer the recognition that Veronica most craves?

Post your thoughts and I will comment as well.

Copyright Cindy Ventrice 2008


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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