Monday, June 23, 2008

Where Everybody Knows Your Name!

Who can name where today’s topic came from?

Here are a few hints...

- It was a famous tune
- It came from a hit TV show
- Norm, Carla, Diane and Sam
- It described a place
- A bar to be specific

Of course it came from the long running TV show "Cheers."

Company managers should catch up on Cheers reruns because the show’s basic premise provides a simple but powerful lesson in employer engagement.

In my last post I stated my belief that “employer” engagement is the prerequisite for “employee” engagement. In other words, don’t expect employees to be engaged if your managers aren’t engaging them.

This seems pretty basic, but as common courtesy goes, this is the first step to actually feeling like a valued part of anything.

For example, when you enter a restaurant and the maître d’ greets you with a, “Heeey Norm!” You feel like you’re a part of something: you feel respected and appreciated.

However, what if the maître d’ can’t remember your name? Even though you eat lunch there five times a week and have put the owner’s four children through college. What if all you get is an awkward look? But you know he remembers you, he knows who you are. You realize he may be just having an off day, maybe his hamster fell off the wheel temporarily. Nevertheless, you can’t help think he just couldn’t be bothered to retain your name.

It’s a situation neither of you want to be in and nobody feels good about.

So what can “Cheers” reruns teach us? That it’s important to have a company culture “Where everyone knows your name!”

Knowing and using someone’s first name is an important step to “real recognition.”

Recognition starts with a name!

Monday, June 16, 2008

How About Employer Engagement?

How often have you heard the words “employee engagement”? If you are like most HR Professionals, probably too often and to be frank, I think we may be putting the proverbial cart before the horse!

Let me explain…

The word “engagement” in our personal lives is a commitment two people make with each other. It’s a two way street! And I don’t believe a corporation can ever have great employee engagement if there is no real “employer engagement.”

Employees are usually considered engaged when they feel a strong emotional bond to their company. But who represents the company? It’s your managers and if they don’t reach out and make an emotional connection to employees, engagement just isn’t going to happen. In other words, it takes two to tango!

I believe there is far too much emphasis placed on employee engagement and not enough on employer engagement. The company and its managers must do more to engage their employees.

Future Shop is a company that gets it. A recent issue of detailed how Future Shop reaches out to employees with some very innovative benefits. One is the ability to go to university right at a store! How cool is that? Future Shop University provides leadership training to those who want to become general managers. Future Shop store managers receive increases that are partially linked to their employee’s engagement. Employer engagement works: turnover at Future Shop improved 10% over a two year period.

Employer engagement… try it. It works!

What do you think?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thank You Thoughts Archives

"It is up to us to give ourselves recogniton. If we wait for it to come from others, we feel resentful when it doesn't, and when it does, we may well reject it." --Spencer Tracy

"Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition." --Abraham Lincoln

"Motivation is the art of getting people what you want them to do beacasue they want to do it." --Dwight D. Eisenhower

"Management is nothing more than motivating other people." --Lee Iacocca

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing -- that's why we recommend it daily." --Zig Ziglar

"What every genuine philosopher (every genuine man, in fact) craves most is praise -- although the philosophers generally call it ‘recognition’!” —William James

"The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." - William James

"Flattery is from the teeth out. Sincere appreciation is from the heart out." - Dale Carnegie

"Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves." - Ambrose Bierce

"In the arena of human life the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action." - Aristotle

"Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition." - Abraham Lincoln

"The only way to get people to like working hard is to motivate them. Today, people must understand why they're working hard. Every individual in an organization is motivated by something different." -Rick Pitino

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Recently Read Archives

  • Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive by Harvey B. Mackay
    One of my Board Members recommended Mr. Mackay's book. It is an easy read but to be frank, I didn't really enjoy it. Let me explain why...
    Mr. Mackay is in the envelop business. I would imagine this is a pretty tough commodity driven business where a fraction of a penny can make a difference. While he gives many pointers on building relationships somehow they just don't seem to ring true.
    Yes I'd like to get to know my customers better... but I don't want to read a cheat sheet listing the clients' kids' names just before I visit them just so they are impressed and I'll make a sale. I don't know... perhaps I'm being naive but I do believe that relationships have to be sincere to succeed.

  • True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill George
    I heard Bill George speak a couple of years ago at one of Jay Whitehead's CRO conferences. What a speaker... he spoke for about an hour with no notes or prompts on corporate ethics. I was really impressed but must confess that I was remiss in reading the book I bought that night. I finally got around to it and was not disappointed. Mr. George used real life examples and simple exercises throughout his book to make his case and teach how each one of us can find our True North. This is a very good book. Don't wait two years to read it!

  • Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
    I'm trying to remember who recommended this book but can't for the life of me remember who it was! Old age creeps up on me... This book is about the Generals who were at Gettysburg that fateful summer of 1863. It is written as a novel and I found it very enjoyable and educational for it takes you through the ebb and flow of the three day battle.
    I first visited Gettysburg with my wife Francine in 1993. We took a bus tour but I never really understood the battle until we returned to Gettysburg last year with my daughter Veronica on "American History" week. (We did many of the historical sites in Philadelphia, NYC and Hyde Park as well). This book brings history to life. Mr. Shaara passed away when he was only 59 but his son Jeff picked up the torch and I'm now reading his books on the civil war.

  • A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
    I read this book, actually the entire Peter Mayle series ten or fifteen years ago. Re-reading favorite books is something I often do. Its like visiting an old friend. I've re-read some books up to five times over the years. Anyways, I loved "A Year in Provence" then and I loved it now! Peter Mayle was a London advertising executive who decided to take a year off and move to the French countryside, more specifically - Provence. Needless to say he never left and his experiences spawned a series of entertaining books as well as one of my favorite movies "A Goodyear" starring Russell Crowe. One day, I'd like to live in Provence!

  • Rogues Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money that Made the Metropolitan Museum by Michael Gross
    I love museums and the works of art they house. One of my favorite museums is the Metropolitan in NYC. So reading Rogues Gallery was a real treat. It outlines the history of the Met and tells the story of its benefactors and curators and leaders. I enjoyed the book although I'm not sure that everyone else would... especially some of those in the book!

  • American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meachem
    Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States. He was a very controversial President. Known as "Old Hickory" he was the father of the Democratic Party and fought many epic military and political battles that forever changed the destiny of the USA.

  • American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin
    Robert Oppenheimer was a brilliant scientist who led the top secret Manhattan Project which led to the creation of the atomic bomb. Its creation was his triumph and his tragedy.
    He quickly realized the bomb would forever change the world and was a strong advocate for arms control and educating the public on the perils of the nuclear age.
    But he was caught up by his past and some very powerful forces. In his younger days, Oppenheimer had flirted with communism and the left wing movement. This was used against him in the early 1950s. The time by Joseph McCarthy and communist witch hunts.
    Sadly for us all Oppenheimer's voice was effectively muzzled at a time it could have made a difference.

My Friend Mark Archives!

A compilation of Mark's thoughts on recognition.

I can live for two months on a compliment! - Mark Twain

I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel that they have not said enough.
- Speech, September 23, 1907

An occasional compliment is necessary to keep up one's self-respect. The plan of the newspaper is good and wise; when you can't get a compliment any other way, pay yourself one.
- Notebook, 1894

Praise is well, compliment is well, but affection--that is the last and final and most precious reward that any man can win, whether by character or achievement.
- Affection speech, 1907

The happy phrasing of a compliment is one of the rarest of human gifts and the happy delivery of it another.
- Mark Twain's Autobiography

Do not offer a compliment and ask a favor at the same time. A compliment that is charged for is not valuable.
- Notebook, 1902-1903

It is a talent by itself to pay compliments gracefully and have them ring true. It's an art by itself.
- "I Was Born for a Savage" speech, 1907

One should not pay a person a compliment and straightway follow it with a criticism. It is better to kiss him now and kick him next week.
- Inscription written on fly leaf of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the L. M. Powers collection. Reported in Kansas City Star, April 10, 1911, p. 6.

We are unanimous in the pride we take in good and genuine compliments paid us, in distinctions conferred upon us, in attentions shown us. There is not one of us, from the emperor down, but is made like that. Do I mean attentions shown us by the great? No, I mean simply flattering attentions; let them come whence they may. We despise no source that can pay us a pleasing attention--there is no source that is humble enough for that.
- "Does the Race of Man Love a Lord?"

A dozen direct censures are easier to bear than one morganatic compliment.
- Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar

The form of a compliment has nothing to do with its value -- it is the spirit that is in it that makes it gold or dross. This one was gold. This one was out of the heart, and I have found that an ignorant hot one out of the heart tastes just as good as does a calm judicial, reasoned one out of an educated head.
- "The Refuge of the Derelicts" published in Fables of Man

The compliment that helps us on our way is not the one that is shut up in the mind, but the one that is spoken out.
- Mark Twain: A Biography

If husbands could realize what large returns of profit may be gotten out of a wife by a small word of praise paid over the counter when the market is just right, they would bring matters around the way they wish them much oftener than they usually do. Arguments are unsafe with wives, because they examine them; but they do not examine compliments. One can pass upon a wife a compliment that is three-fourths base metal; she will not even bite it to see if it is good; all she notices is the size of it, not the quality.
- "Hellfire Hotchkiss," Satires and Burlesques

None but an ass pays a compliment and asks a favor at the same time. There are many asses.
- Notebook, 1902; also in More Maxims of Mark, 1927

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Trying to keep up in the recognition field is like the proverbial duck who, although appearing to float along unperturbed, has to paddle like crazy underwater!

The art and science of recognition is one of the most rapidly developing fields in today’s corporate world. Because of that, it’s difficult for everyone to keep up with new technologies and strategies.

I hope you will find the Recognition Blog a useful tool to keep up, share and learn the latest and greatest in recognition!

The topics I hope to touch on are the direct ties that recognition has to both employee and corporate performance; how building a culture of recognition can affect your bottom line through improved employee and customer retention, higher engagement levels as well as innovative industry developments.

So, I invite you to participate in our new Recognition Blog and wish you many aha moments!