I’m not making this up…
Once, at a former workplace, our espresso maker got more peer nominations for Employee of the Month than anyone else. A high performer, true…but really?
That was the state of our morale. Our spirits had been broken by circumstances too mind-boggling to adequately describe here; but, we were truly disenchanted and pretty much walked around like an office full of zombies. Zombies who really valued a strong cup of coffee in the afternoon.
- There is only one winner—and that can make everyone else feel like a loser.
- To be fair, winners are sometimes chosen on rotation (either deliberately or subconsciously), which actually isn’t fair at all. Or, just the opposite, the winner is always one of just a few top performers.
- There is often only a nomination-type system in place (with the potential for management or peer favoritism), rather than having a forum in which specific behaviors and achievements are rewarded.
Knowing what I know now, we could have chosen a more inclusive method of recognition. In fact, working at Baudville, I’ve seen two powerful employee recognition programs in place that are much more effective than the traditional system of single-person nomination: day-to-day recognition and peer-to-peer recognition.
Day-to-day recognition focuses on genuine everyday expressions of appreciation that reinforce and reward positive behaviors. It’s administered mostly by managers through low cost tools like Cheers Kits™ and Pocket Praise®. The important part is that everyone has the opportunity to be recognized on a regular basis, sometimes just for little things, which makes everyone feel good.
Peer-to-peer recognition is a subject I’ve already talked a lot about lately, so I’ll try to keep it brief. But a program like our internal Shout Outs incorporates our core values, which means we are given recognition for exemplifying behaviors and attitudes that matter to our company (and are also key to business success). People know why they’re being recognized; and, as with day-to-day, peer recognition includes everyone, so we all get to feel like winners.
Both systems have the potential to elevate the entire team—all the time, any time—rather than just focusing on one person per month. They also create a positive culture in which giving and receiving recognition feels natural and sincere. Finally, people are enthusiastic about the programs and look forward to recognizing their staff and coworkers…not appliances!