3 Ways to Recognize and Motivate in Uncertain Times

I get asked many of the same questions about how to leverage the exponential power of recognition; after a keynote, in the chat of a virtual event, in an email or in response to a blog post, you brilliant and committed leaders and emerging leaders are keen to explore how to sincerely, sustainably and supportively appreciate your folks. And, you’re committed to sidestepping the potential pitfalls of recognition that fall flat or lead to unintended consequences.

In this blog post, I’m pulling forward some timely questions as well as giving you some references to deeper dive resources that I believe will both inspire you and make you excited and hopeful of the power of recognition. If you have more questions than what you see here, please comment below. I am committed to answering them in an upcoming blog, article or vlog.

1. How do I recognize people virtually?

virtual recognition with Sarah McVanelMany of the same strategies you use in the face-to-face world work in the virtual world. Give a thank-you via a Zoom meeting. Write a card and send it to their house. Have your long-service awards online (sending Skip The Dishes or another meal delivery service link in lieu of the buffet dinner.) The key is to keep traditions and habits that work, experiment with how they can be shifted to remote, and keep experimenting until you find a sweet spot.

2. How can we do peer-to-peer recognition when we can’t see each other?

virtual recognition with Sarah McVanelWhether it’s that no one will turn on their video on a web meeting, you’re managing a multi-location team, or you run a 24/7 shift department, it’s very common that peers don’t work physically together. We often this that this is how “work” is, however, our COVID working reality is that it’s simply the number of people not working all at the same time and in the same location has increased. In healthcare, we were used to this conundrum. Here’s the easiest way to start; at your team meetings, in your staff memos, at town hall meetings, start with asking or reflecting on “what’s working”, “what successes have we had” and related questions. In fact, for a tool of meeting openers, go to the Cool Stuff page of my website as I have a whole page for you.

Start every conversation with affirmation and positivity, and you’ll see more people want to join in. And by the way, if you want to see how one organization has pulled this together in a fun and fabulous video every month, check out i24 Call Management’s monthly WOW award video and even their Halloween fun video.

3. Is it disrespectful to have “fun” with recognition when so many are suffering?

recognition with Sarah McVanelI love heart-based people like you who think about the bigger context of appreciation in the reality we’re living in. I remember when my aunt was palliative she said, “Sarah I don’t want you to enjoy life by less because I’m suffering. I have led a joyful life. You should too.”

I can’t imagine anyone on the frontline of COVID wants us all to struggle (in fact I know so from recently having interviewed two amazing nurses – Amie and Sarah – podcast hosts of Gritty Nurse).

The more positivity, abundance, and wellbeing focus we can bring into our lives, including an abundance of recognition and appreciation, the more likely it will ripple effect to them, we’ll think to send it there way, and frankly, we’ll all be mentally and physically healthier to keep our healthcare system available for those suffering.

Do you still have more questions on your mind? Here are two more sources:

“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."

Some of the Great Organizations We Serve