Information and Meaningful work are two powerful tools of employee recognition

by on May 11, 2009 · 1 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

“Learning, knowing and becoming” are three vital rewards in employee recognition

Another area of intangible employee rewards and recognition is information and support. People want to know, how is my role affecting the company? What am I doing? How is it evolving and changing? What happened this month versus last month.

In many companies, we keep that data very close to the chest. We don’t tell people how much money the company is making. We don’t show them how the tolerances they achieved in the machine shop on a daily basis. The accuracy of picking and packing in the warehouse, the safety — exceptional safety record the forklift drivers have. We don’t show them how that affects company results, performance and success over time. Effective employee recognition shows how employee contributions help the company

Sharing information is employee recognition
Do you hang big banners and posters of teamwork, metrics, standards, goals, objectives? Do you have meetings and frequently share data and information about where the company is going, how it’s getting there and what their role is in it?

Most employees have no real understanding of how their individual role, even at a middle management level sometimes. How their individual role and what they do on a day-to-day basis affects the overall company performance and success.

And when you can’t link what you’re doing as a business down to that individual level, then to most people, it’s just a job. They’re just passing time in a role until someone offers them a nickel more an hour.

When you can link what you’re trying to do as a business and tie it with information, support, ideas and show them that connection, right down to the lowest level in the organization, now you’ve got people engaged. Now, they’re committed, they’re excited, they feel they — you know, as the rock goes, they own a piece of the rock.

Meaningful work as employee recognition
Employee recognition can be as simple as finding the opportunities where people can take on projects, they can participate on teams, they can handle things that they’ve never done before. Employee rewards can be new growth opportunities, new learning opportunities, getting to see something they’ve never touched in the past.

An example of adding meaningful work as employee recognition

For those of you that have employees working directly for you, how many of you, over a regular period on a systematic basis, give your people little slices of projects that they’ve never done before?

Increase their meaningful work as part of employee recognition strategy
You helped coach them and master that skill. As a tool of employee recognition, increase the slice. Then you increase the slice bigger, then you increase the slice bigger until over time, they’re able to take on a whole new area of responsibility that you’ve been keeping close to your chest and you can move on to take on bigger things.

How many of you do that on a regular and systematic basis?

Most top performers need a very small component of their work to be this learning, development, impactful work. We call that LDB, learning, doing and becoming.

In fact about 5 to 10% of a top performer’s job should be that and they will do the other 90 to 95% of their job. That’s the boring, mundane, do it the same way everyday, do a flawless execution and they will do it with tremendous pride and passion as long as a small component of their job is learning, doing and becoming.

And if you’re not providing that and if that number is zero or negative, then again, they’re going to vote with their feet and over time, they’ll leave for greener pastures.

So, here’s another rhetorical question to be thinking about.

As you think about the key people who work for you, what percentage of their job is learning, doing and becoming? What personal growth and employee recognition are they getting out of their job? Is it zero? Is it negative? Is it 1%? I’d suggest going back and thinking about that and in fact, using that as a question to probe when you sit in your one to one and you start having your coaching sessions if you’re not doing those now.

1 Comment on This Post

  1. May 12, 2009 - 2:12 pm

    Again, excellent article. As I wrote in this Businessweek article:

    In my experience, very few line employees can even cite the company’s objectives, much less articulate how their work helps achieve them. But it has never been more urgent for every employee to understand precisely this connection. You need to clearly communicate the needs of your company (e.g., your strategic objectives) and, more importantly, show employees how their individual, specific efforts help the company achieve those objectives. But how? It’s simple. Say “thank you.”

    During a down economy when companies need employees to give more discretionary effort to achieve critical objectives, strategic employee recognition specifically acknowledges actions and behaviors that align with company values and help to achieve those objectives, encouraging employees to repeat precisely those behaviors needed for the organization to succeed. Employees begin to see how their individual efforts contribute to company success.

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