Demonstrating your appreciation doesn’t need to be reserved for each February 14.
A renowned guru from Slough dispensed an invaluable pearl of wisdom when preaching the power of workplace motivation in The Office.
My proudest moment here wasn’t when I increased profits by seventeen per cent, or cut expenditure without losing a single member of staff, regaled the incomparable David Brent.
No, it was a young Greek guy, first job in the country, hardly spoke a word of English. But he came to me and said: ‘Mr. Brent will you be godfather to my child?’ Didn’t happen in the end. We had to let him go. He was rubbish.
The speech to the troops at Wernham-Hogg didn’t propel them to new heights of achievement in the paper trade. Painfully excruciating, Ricky Gervais’ comedic creation represents a dinosaur from a past era on so many fronts.
And yet, his central ambition remains timeless and right on point: how to connect with our employees so they bring the best versions of themselves every day within a culture that fosters loyalty, appreciation and consistent performance.
What do our precious people want to feel each day? Same as us. ‘I hear you. I see you.’ A two-way engagement that money can’t quite buy. To value their insight and opinion in a way that leaves them looking forward to coming to work (or logging on from the spare room) each morning. That they are proud to work in this environment and can still see themselves here in 18 months time.
Fostering that culture of recognition doesn’t come without concerted effort from an executive level. Within my company, SmartPA, we moved to embed it into our high-performance strategy as one of its key ingredients. We are nothing without colleagues who feel as inspired and enthused about driving our mission forward as we do.
Just as yawns are contagious, so too is energy. We deliberately seek to nurture that sense of positivity throughout our organisation. It helps us to thrive. Just as significantly, it helps our customers also. We work to ensure they are heard and seen in a similar vein. That shapes our DNA. Internal recognition lifts the mood. A thank-you from a satisfied client sends it onward, through the roof.
Priceless. But in attracting and retaining the best talent, appreciation is an intangible benefit that significantly bumps up the overall value of the reward package. Because managers have traditionally sought out the sweet spot where monetary incentives provide the greatest return. It’s an age-old struggle, complicated by the marginal wants and desires of each individual.
Who doesn’t like a few extra quid in their account at the end of each month? Or feel that each rise in salary band is fair and commensurate with increased experience and standing? We all possess egos, no matter how visible. But to hope that numbers alone will inspire is to invite deflation and failure.
Which is why our managerial and peer-to-peer recognition programme supports creating a positive environment. One in which our people feel enthused in a manner that encourages them to deliver results and elevated performance and – most importantly – to enjoy being part of our organisation and our journey.
How do we do it? We equip our managers with a framework that ensures we consistently bring to life our people’s successes, their milestones and their achievements, large and small. It is a process that spins 24/7, 365 days per day. Utterly vital.
We ensure there are regular shout-outs to celebrate small but vital triumphs as well as the big, game-changing wins. That feeds a sharing of best practice and thought leadership. By adding context to every piece of recognition, and outlining what impact those victories had on colleagues, clients or our bottom line, we grow and develop organically.
We encourage praise among peers. Team-to-team kudos. We are inter-connected. Sometimes, it is the quiet person in the room who speaks loudest with what they contribute. Even if they do not talk themselves up, we ask others to sing their praises at full volume. Outstanding work deserves to be spotlighted and appreciated.
Evaluation comes over the longer term as well. By staging our annual recognition awards, we turn appraisal into an opportunity to reward those who have gone the extra mile. Yes, there’s cash on offer. Every little helps. But it’s also our way of saying: ‘We see you. We hear you. And we appreciate what you do.’
Valentine’s Day 2021 is a little different. No romantic meals out. For some, displays of affection from two metres away. But in our companies, there’s never been a better time to show a little love to those we value. It enflames the passions. It fuels the energy. Happy people, happy clients, happy business. No excruciating speeches required.