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Praise to Employees - The Matrix Chart From Hell...

Big idea for the day...  Why do companies talk a lot about employee recognition and praise, but employees get so little of it?  2 reasons in my book below:

1. Managers don't know how to give it (they're not actors, and most are uncomfortable in thisHows_my_driving role).

2. It's REALLY HARD as a customer to get praise to the right employee in an organization.

Let's focus on #2 in this post.  Why is it so hard to get praise to the right employee in an organization?  Let's say you just had a great interaction with a call center rep who did amazing things to take ownership, calm you down and resolve your issue, even though you were irate at the beginning of the call.  Does the company make it easy to share that feedback?  Most of the time, the answer is no.

More notes on this from a Made to Stick column at Fast Company:

"Imagine you're in a Tex-Mex restaurant, eating an awe-inspiring quesadilla. You may rave about it to the waiter, but chances are, your praise will never make it to the person who counts: the cook. Or maybe you appreciate the extra-deep cup holder in your Toyota, which holds your venti latte snugly. Where do you send the thank-you note? If you're lucky, it'll be read by corporate communications, who'll write a soulless acknowledgment. But the engineer who designed it -- and the product manager who fought for it -- will never know how you feel.

That's a tragedy on multiple levels, first for the employees who never receive your warm fuzzies. Pick any non-customer-service employee at random from your company. When was the last time that person received positive feedback directly from a customer? If the answer is "never," that's as cruel as an unwatered plant. Or an ignored Madonna."

The lesson for HR people, in my eyes, is to be more than cheerleaders when it comes to praise.  It's fine to preach to the world the benefits of praise as a HR pro, but from a business standpoint, what are you thinking about from a systems/communications/customer standpoint that can facilitate praise directly to the employee?  Can you develop those types of systems with the proper amount of recognition to the company/manager/team about the employee's performance?

You've got to think like a systems designer to pull it off.  One example pointed out at the Made to Stick column on praise is the "How's My Driving" signs on the back of millions of company trucks on the roads of America:

"For more inspiration, consider Kelmar Safety, which manages those How's My Driving? programs for trucking fleets. Ever wonder if the drivers hear the comments you make when you dial the 800-number? Absolutely, according to Kelmar's CEO and president Christina Kelly. Every single time. At least one company has figured out how to get the right comment to the right person.

We know you're thinking that gratitude may not be foremost among the sentiments expressed on those calls. But take heart, cynical one: 18% of the calls are compliments. (Actual compliment: "He was great. He blinked his lights at me to let me out.") Maybe one out of six isn't such a great hit ratio, but think how much better your organization might perform on this metric if it's in an industry not known for road rage."

You already know praise is important as an HR pro.  You'll have to think like a business person to figure out how it can have an actual impact in your organization.

Comments

Tom Logue

If you open up the lines of communication for positive feedback, then you open them up for negative feedback as well.

If I knew that my comments would actually reach the people I'm mad at within an organization, then you can bet I'd be letting Microsoft, Delta, T-Mobile, etc., know exactly how I feel.

In other words, the current system is actually hurting companies in two ways. It diminishes outside praise, and it distances workers from the end customer to the point that they are operating in a vacuum rather than with the customer in mind.

Tricky topic.

AWM

K-

You know that you aren't a coffee snob and by venti you mean large ;)

-AWM

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