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Ribbon in the Sky

Success stories are a standard in marketing.  In the health and wellness industry, for example, weight loss companies like Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and NurtiSystem spend millions on celebrity testimonials.  And some of these celebrities have seen a resurgence in their careers as a result, like Marie Osmond, Kirstie Alley, Valerie Bertinelli, etc.  We love to see the dramatic difference in the before and after shots.  Those photos inspire and amaze us.  We celebrate the victory with that celebrity (like we know them or something).

Victory is a great achievement.  It's worth celebrating.  Losing weight is a great accomplishment, but it is not the only accomplishment worth celebrating.  In our organizations, we have employees reaching and exceeding goals.  Are we celebrating?

As some of you know, I am big on expectations and measurement.  I believe that it's necessary to set clear expectations and goals and then follow up to measure how those things are being implemented, reached and if there is a need for change in approach.  We need to set our staff up for success right from the start.  I am, also, a believer of celebrating with those who meet or exceed those expectations and goals.

In ancient times, the act of erecting a monument to recognize a victory was commonplace.  Great kings and conquerors took pride in the work they were doing (however terrible it might have been now that we look back) and as such, wanted every traveler who came into the territory to know.  While building a monument out of stone and marble might not be practical or cost-efficient, we can recognize those achievements in public and lasting ways.

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It's also okay to recognize types of accomplishments differently.  Someone who meets the quota they were given might not deserve a huge fanfare in comparison to the one who superseded his/her quota by 50%.  The type of recognition might vary, but the act of at least throwing a ribbon in the sky is what matters.  Motivation from the recognition is a fact.

The Maritz Institute encourages use of a BET technique.

  • B - State the Behavior.  Let employees know what's expected of them and how it will be measured.
  • E - State the Effect.  The employees can handle understanding how what they do will impact the whole.  Let them know what difference they are making by performing the desired behavior.
  • T - Thank you! Recognize what an employee does out of a spirit of gratitude.

And I know the other side of it. I know that we're inundated with gift cards and online point-earnings that can lead to fabulous trips.  I know that we're not interested in one more initiative to manage.  I know that we're promised the world by technology providers but, at some level, we've got to manage it.  I get it.  And what I, also, get is that the CBA (cost benefit analysis) around recognition is worth the time and effort.  Employees who get to raise their hands in victory by the encouragement of their managers are more likely to learn new skills, to creatively think through current work processes and to lead those around them to a higher level of output.  Those are some pretty good reasons to build a monument.

Grab a couple of employees this week or next and test it out.  Recognize goals met or exceeded.  Share it with teams and divisions.  Throw a few "atta boys" out there in public.  The time spent will be well worth it if it's done consistently and with genuine enthusiasm (not an over-the-top-obviously-not-heartfelt attitude).

And now, I am going to take some pictures with the current monument to unopened ice cream container in the freezer that's been mocking me since it's been brought into the home.  Yeah, baby, willpower!

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