Recognition Leading Practices 2017

I had a colleague ask me, “What are the most innovative recognition practices you’ve been seeing in 2017?” I’ve listed a few that you may find helpful when creating a new strategy to implement in your organization.

1. “Be Amazing” Ambush
Did you know, Best Buy has, ‘Be Amazing Ambushes?’ When an associate has done something above and beyond, they will have a 100 people descend upon their store to surprise them with a personalized acknowledgement. There’s a gift card given and cheer all around! What an amazing, surprise way to recognize – giving it exponential impact – making sure people know going above and beyond is valued and appreciated.

2. Recognition Challenge
In a past VLOG post, I talked about Jesse, a busy executive at Northern Lights College. She decided to conduct a recognition challenge. She had 2 free tickets to join her husband and her at a sold-out concert and she said in an email to all staff and leaders, “Hey everybody, tell me about the most amazing person you work with and why they deserve these coveted tickets.”
Her inbox just flooded with people sharing specific stories of the rock stars at the College. Her email inspired a Dean and then the President to issue their own challenges with tickets they had. It created an electric buzz of energy. The President even wrote handwritten thank-you notes to every person nominated and the person who nominated them. What a way to generate positivity and the feeling of appreciation!

3. Write Personalized Notes
I just recently read about the CEO of Belfor Holdings Inc, Sheldon Yellen, who writes over 7,000 birthday cards a year – that’s one personalized note to every employee every year. This “culture of compassion” he learned about over 30 years ago when starting this practice. How does he do it? Any time he hops on an airplane he makes sure he has a stack of cards, a list of names and a few details to make each note personalized. I hope he’s inspired the folks in the seats next to him over the years!

4. Small Token of Recognition
When I was doing some work for a really great company, BioSyent, a small pharmaceutical company in Canada, at their annual kick-off meeting, they took the time for a moment of recognition and did it in an engaging way. The VP of Sales, Kevin Wilson, presented the recipients with a fun item, many of which could easily have come from a local dollar store, that was a literal or metaphorical symbol of the “award” they were winning. The acknowledgement was real, and the way it was delivered was such fun and so memorable, everybody joined in with cheers and big smiles.

5. Department Symbols of Recognition
While working with some of Home Depot Canada’s highest performing stores on continuing to fuel their recognition culture, they took my brand FROG (Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness™) and personalized it to their store. For example, in one store, a FROG trophy was purchased and became a department-to-department award that was dedicated in honour of an employee that had sadly passed away and had always been a team player. On a monthly basis, one department nominates another department. It’s that kind of innovation where people learn about concepts and strategies and then they make it meaningful to them. People are so excited to receive that award which comes from the heart.

6. Customer Acknowledgement Buttons
In Walmart, you’ll notice when you go in that staff are wearing small and large smiley face pins. Each smiley face pin represents a customer acknowledgement. It hasn’t been vetted, it hasn’t been approved, it just simply means some customer took the time to fill out an acknowledgement and drop it in the customer service box.
Once you get to 5 then you trade them in for a larger pin, and so on. It’s a great way to be able to visually see that recognition is happening, and who the superstars are in the organization. As customers, we can put recognition in our hands something that can’t happen enough.

7. Staff Appreciation Cards
North York General Hospital had a fun way of engaging their patients and visitors during Patient Safety Week. They put out little FROG™ cards and encouraged people to write about a staff member or team who role models patient safety and deserves acknowledgement.
Within days, their whole front lobby was just covered in FROGs with specific, meaningful words. Frontline staff began to check out who had written what; when they saw that the notes came from not just their colleagues but the patients and families they cared for, it was all the more meaningful.

8. Awareness Week

Here in Niagara, Ontario, Canada a top employer is Walker Industries. An employee had an idea about helping Walker employees to have greater awareness about the community, and that they should dedicate a week annually to do so. Hence the launch of Awareness Week. Groups of approximately eight people join teams and they participate in as many community activities they can think of. For example, one team this year:
· Gave blood
· Sewed 50+ baby hats for newborns at the local hospital
· Cleaned up a park of garbage
· Bagged groceries at a local grocery store
· Painted the lobby at the local soup kitchen
· Served food at the same soup kitchen
· Sorted food at the Community care
· Donated clothes to Diabetes
· Visited an old age home with dogs
· Volunteered at the Parkinson’s Walk

Imagine the impact that the other seven teams had!
How does this tie to recognition? The team that shows the greatest awareness and social responsibility is awarded a “trophy” at their annual strategic planning day. It’s friendly competition but as one gentleman donating blood beside me said, “We get hooked. I am still volunteering for a charity I didn’t even know about before I started at Walker. I have such a better appreciation of what’s going on in our community, and I thank the people who volunteer and care for people so much more now.” Let that positivity spread!

What Is your Leading Practice?
As you all know, I love to hand out squishy frogs to people showing greatness in their own way. Nothing’s better than saying to someone deadpan, “Have you been FROGed today?” You get some pretty strange looks! But when I explain what FROG stands for and specifically tell them the greatness I see in them, they want to wear their FROG, give it away to someone else who deserves it, put it somewhere they’ll see every day and so on. Squishy frogs may or may not be your thing. What is?

I encourage you to find your own fun way of being able to acknowledge the greatness all around you every day.

If you have my co-authored book, check out page 114 for the many examples of how you can recognize someone. It’s a great resource to keep on hand so that your strategies stay fresh and to ensure you have multiple ways of recognizing people that is fun (I also have a FROG Portal launching soon that is full of even more tools and strategies!

I hope you have had some great ideas from these suggestions, and don’t forget to include in the comment section any of your ideas that I haven’t covered yet because we can only get better by sharing those strategies together.

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

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