Last year, I had a big stepping stone in my career. I went from managing two people to eight. The level of responsibility grew for me, but I also had another weight on me: How to make my team feel excited about coming to work every day, grow professionally and also feel like they were making a difference.
As we’re in the reward and recognition business, I’m surrounded by what we call “recognition champions” — the people you see on the eCard leaderboards, with a lot of emojis and reactions and a general "ra ra!" attitude. They love being pulled up in front of the company and smiling while their manager applauds their work.
I can tell you, that is not me. I’m not what you’d call a “recognition skeptic” (more on that in this blog from my colleague Alex), but I personally don’t like being called out in front of people. My last company didn’t have much of, if any, sort of reward and recognition program. It wasn’t visible, and if it did happen behind closed doors, I never heard about it!
So I vowed that in my next job, which started here nearly three years ago, I would figure out how to do recognition my way.
And it just so happens that our program, which lets employees send peer-to-peer recognition and manager-led recognition (we call these Gamechangers) in a digital format that lets you give and receive recognition in a very genuine way.
What do I mean by that? Well, sometimes I don’t open my eCard right away. I get to choose when I open it, and I get to process it before I react — it removes that “deer in headlights” feeling I’ve witnessed in the past. On a rough day, sometimes that boost is what I need to push me to the next level.
For my team, I blend my recognition tactics to make employee recognition meaningful. I try to save eCards for more special occasions, like when someone on my team goes above and beyond their normal call of duty, helping others outside the scope or their role or being super creative with a client, for example. This really follows suit with my primary Insights color, which is blue. As my colleague noted, when it comes to different styles of employee recognition, the "blues" are:
“People who tend to be more precise and deliberate expect a lot from themselves and from others. They may not see something as worthy of appreciation unless it goes significantly above and beyond. They tend to be formal in how they deliver feedback.”
This couldn’t be more true! That’s why my eCards tend to focus on the facts of how my colleague’s work is impacting others.
I think of recognition as strategic, focusing on how someone went going above and beyond and noting how that helped the business.
I also try to take time to choose the right eCard to bring my message to life, which helps it feel a little more “me.”
But my recognition isn’t limited to our eCard program. Here are a few things that I also do engage my team that organically leads to better recognition:
1. Every Monday morning, we use our team meeting to share information and news as well as challenges and roadblocks. It’s often these conversations that lead to those breakthrough moments which deserve recognition.
2.Recently one of my team members led a presentation on our new implementation process. Someone else in our business sent her an eCard and as her manager, I was notified that she was recognized, so I had her explain a little more to the rest of the team in our meeting, and shone that spotlight on her for a job well done!
3. I give my team members opportunities to step up and go outside of their role. We have open and honest conversations about career interests and areas of professional development, so if there’s an opportunity to strengthen their role working with our clients for instance, by attending a certain conference or sitting in on meetings and reporting back to the team, I’ll let them.
4. After our first quarter together as a larger team, I handwrote cards and bought little badges to signify us as a team and to recognize our new roles in a tangible way.
I don’t ever want anyone to receive an eCard from me and think “Oh, here’s another eCard from Becs, big deal.” That’s why my team understands that when they receive recognition, it’s because they’ve done something amazing. I take a long time to write a meaningful recognition message, and I do that because it's important for me to receive a proper message so I am clear on what was great and what stood out, but also because I am aware that the rest of the business will see the message so it needs to be meaningful.
I want everyone to know about the great work that I'm recognizing, so that they can replicate it and get involved in similar projects that help the business.
At the end of the day, for me, I’m not just their “manager,” and it’s not me versus them. We are all responsible for company culture and driving the business forward. And recognition is a big part of that. I’m looking forward to continuing my own recognition journey, and helping my team discover their own way of recognizing.
Becs leads the Corporate Client Success Team, working with a number of clients on their employee engagement journeys. She recently moved into a new home, so is spending her spare time in the great outdoors learning how to garden!
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