The Value of Peer to Peer Recognition


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It's no doubt that organizations have leaned out in the past few decades. And technology has transformed the way we communicate. Now employees in the workforce rely more on each other to get the work done. We suggest an employee recognition system to foster positive messages, higher performance, and a better culture.

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  • Homeless guy on the street, or assume he was homeless. I forgot what he said, and I don’t specifically recall my reaction, but he told me with astonishment, “You are the only person to smile at me the whole day”. This was late in the afternoon, and I was taken back by such a comment. It wasn’t that I was the first to smile at a homeless man, but it was his sincere gratitude for being seen and for being acknowledged. That is what this psychologist is referring to. It’s quite powerful experience to be appreciated and acknowledged. And we’re going to cover the why and how.
  • Research organization Bersin, now Bersin by Deloitte has completed some amazing research on recognition. They identified what they call “recognition-rich cultures”. And Only 17% of the respondents fit into category, but those recognition rich cultures see some truly amazing results. When looking at the turnover statistics, they found that voluntary turnover, the kind of turnover any organization wants to avoid is drastically lower. And here’s why looking at voluntary turnover is such an important metric. When people choose to leave, it’s because something is missing, lacking, or ineffective, and they have found a better option. And if we are honest, only the most valuable, top performing employees have such options. Generally speaking, voluntary turnover are those with marketable knowledge and skill set and those are the ones walking out the door. A recognition-rich culture reduces this churn by 30%Secondly, the organizations produce much greater outcomes. They have built a work environment or culture that strives for performance. You might have heard the phrase, culture eats strategy, and this research validates that notion. A well design strategy is a sports car with no engine. A recognition-rich culture is the whole package because employees are engaged in the work offering discretionary effort, they are productive, and give great customer service.The reason why these high performing, recognition-rich cultures are so successful is because they build momentum on previous success. The celebrate, acknowledge wins (even small wins, and mistakes), because when everybody’s needs are met, the organization fires on all cylinders.
  • You are probably aware of Fortune’s issue with the top 100 best places to work. That list is compiled by The Great Place to Work Institute. And when they evaluate companies, they evaluate organizations on several categories including pride, respect, fairness and camaraderie.Camaraderie includes aspects such as:Employees are comfortable being themselves.Fun workplaces.Friendly and welcoming.Strong sense of team/community.And so the question is, how can organizations build these qualities into everyday work life? Support an environment where coworkers can point to a coworker say, THAT was awesome!
  • Not justDr. Putnam, Harvard professor wrote a book about social connections. He interviewed 500 thousand people over 25 years and came to startling conclusions. Let’s take the title of his book, Bowling Alone. Did you know that bowling, as a sport is seeing the highest number it’s ever had. More and more people are bowling, but the asterisk to this conclusion is that leagues and league bowling are at the lowest ever. People are choosing to disconnect from this fabric.We are emotional creatures and increasingly insecure.There is a dark side to our human emotions where we tell ourselves that we aren’t smart enough, that we aren’t good enough, and that we are either too much or not enough. This prevents us from taking risks that ultimately build our connections.
  • let’s start with a question:So let’s think back to when you last felt appreciated at work. Use the chat, when was the last time someone at work let you know that they appreciated you, your work, your ideas, your input, feedback.Ok, great. As a follow up when was the last time you let someone know that you appreciated their work, input, feedback?
  • We often times get so caught up in the workplace, that it is easy to lose sight, to lose our grip on our needs at work. It is easy to move from solving one problem to solving the next problem fighting off alligators and putting out fires. It can feel like we are saving the organization from falling apart. It’s the hedonic treadmill of work.The hedonic treadmill is where our pursuit of happiness is like a treadmill where a person has to keep working just to stay in the same place. Buy the newest technology, cars, clothes just to keep up with the Kardashians. Meanwhile the life worth living passes by.And so when we get caught up in the workplace drama, crisis, we lose focus and time, to stop and acknowledge everything that’s going right.The Harvard Business Review just published a great article this week about being rude in the workplace. 60% of people said they were rude because of being overloaded at work. “no time to be nice”
  • Free digital photos: michalmarcolLet’s think back to the stats from Bersin earlier on voluntary turnover. Talent and Development Magazine reported that over half of the organizations they surveyed lost a high performing employee. These employees left because their needs weren’t being fulfilled.What was the number one reason for leaving? That’s right, appreciation. Remember that those who voluntarily leave are the ones with both the most options and they also have higher levels of expectations regarding their needs. So when their needs aren’t being met, they begin to consider such options.Appreciation is a type of communication, so let’s look at the importance of communication…
  • The data in this graph is quite old in internet years. This leaves off 4 years ago and we can only imagine what the trajectory has been since 2009. But this illustrates an important point. The speed, and volume of information is very important. The speed of communication in your organization is important to remain relevant and timely. Also the content of communication is important. Is it fighting alligators or friendly appreciation? It turns out that the frequency and content of communication is quite important. It is the lifeblood of an organization.
  • The Gallup organization looked at communication between a manager and subordinates. They looked at the subordinates engagement and the focus of conversations. They categorized engagement into 3 categories and here we are only looking at the extremes. Those engaged and those who are intentionally disengaged with their work. We can see that when managers focused on their employees’ strengths the levels of active disengagement is virtually non-existent with a majority being fully engaged. When managers focused on the weaknesses, the results weren’t as positive. However it is what’s behind door number 2 that is surprising and what drive home the point about communication.Those feeling ignored have little to no communication, have little to no collaboration or direction, leaving a poor environment where employees become actively disengaged. So after seeing these results comparing those who feel ignored vs. those who do communicate with their managers, we can translate this to recognition models.
  • models have taken the approach where leadership brings up a single person on stage to recognize their “service to the company”. Or there might be an employee of the month award. When we rationalize this approach, it might sound like, “We want to call attention to high performers and let them know they are doing a great job”. However the problem is that generally one person decides the single high performer and that person is the winner. When there is a team of 20 and only one winner, that leave 19 others wondering what they did wrong, or what they didn’t do, or why they aren’t that person. In short, this type of model doesn’t create an inclusive environment of camraderie. Instead it creates factions within an organization.So, the old model promotes a special event and generally are based on merely not getting fired. In a way, it is a celebration of doing the minimum amount of work to remain employed. When we examine how appreciation is distributed, it seems natural to see how this frustrates some employees, especially the incoming generation.
  • You can probably tell from my voice, that I’m a younger person and I happen to fall on the line between Gen X and Gen Y, also known as Millenials. I like to think I have the positive qualities of both.Gen X started the shift in the workplace due to their worldviews: Challenging the status quo, supporting change, experiencing greater diversity. Well Gen Y, or millenials continued this trend. They challenge current work structures, don’t value titles and hierarchies as much as having meaning in work. If Gen X challenged the status quo, Gen Y abolishes the status quo.They’ve seen the rat race from their parents and where it got them. So they have a balanced approach between work and life. 9-5 isn’t the optimal approach, and now we see programs like the Results Only Work Environment, first implemented at Best Buy and gaining steam.Everyone in every generation likes transparency and to know how they are performing. The Millennials in particular grew up in a world of online connectivity where every aspect of their life is based on sharing. Being open and transparent – from communicating the rationale behind promotion decisions, to the participative and open processesThis group also craves constant feedback, so engaging them in proactive and regular career planning and goal creation is critical for job fulfillment. This approach may be a change for those in Gen X, but it will also allow us to know sooner what we can be doing differently, get the most out of our talent and improve the organization.
  • Again, growing up with the world wide web and information at their fingertips, Millennials want open information. And they want to know immediately if and when they are on the wrong track so they can adapt. The want to know when they are on the right track so they can keep doing what they are doing.From a PWC study on millenials at work, a majority stated that feedback should be continual. This is quite the departure from the annual performance review. It’s now the daily performance review. Only 1% claimed that feedback wasn’t important to them.
  • Lynch, A. (2008). ROI on generation Y employees. Bottom Line Conversations, LLC. Retrieved from is one estimate of millennials in the workforce. I found other more current research within the past year suggesting similar results. Right now, we see that about a third consist of this new generation. And as the older generations retire and as more young enter, the proportion grows substantially. We can see this shift coming. More millenials are coming into the workforce, and that means more employees will be wanting continual feedback. Let’s take a look at this new model of recognition.
  • And so we end up with a new model to recognition. It is many to many instead of one to many. Getting feedback from not just your manager, but the people you work with on a daily basis. They don’t value the “gold watch” approach anymore so recognizing tenure isn’t meaningful. Instead, they want to see progress and to feel valued.So the bottom line with the new model is that employees want to be recognized for doing great, meaningful work. But hasn’t that always been the case?
  • Millenials catch attention for being needy or high maintenance about what they want in the workplace. But are millennials asking for something new or do they just have expectations on holding leaders accountable for the same things?Use the chat functions, I’d like to hear what your experiences are.
  • I looked at a study on motivation related to preferences at work. It was led by a prominent workplace motivation psychologist. He took a group of employees working as shareholder correspondents. Their job is to respond to inquiries from shareholders. Removed controls: no longer having work checked by supervisorAccountability: each employee held responsible for quality and accuracy. Signed w/ own nameRemoved discussion of quotas. Reframed as “a full day’s work.In short, they added meaning, value, and flexibility over their work.Their performance was measured on the speed and accuracy of their responding letters. And to remove any outlier months, each data point is an average of the past 3 months. Each point is a rolling average. So the fist two months, they saw what is best describe of uncertainty of the new changes. But once those took hold, their performance shot up. Once they started seeing the recognition for their work (not ‘approved’ and not signed by supervisor), the speed and accuracy took new form. But it wasn’t only in their performance…
  • They also measured their attitudes regarding their job with a 12 question survey. One question shown here asks about making worthwhile contributions. Rigid hierarchies ‘don’t work” and the sense of achievements are very much valued.Since this study was done in the late 80’s, the term millenials didn’t exist. But we can see that the same aspects of work are still valued.
  • Managers miss the unsung heroes.
  • Mgrs have a role in peer to peer recognition
  • Mgrs have a role in peer to peer recognition
  • The Value of Peer to Peer Recognition

    1. 1. The Value of Peer-to- Peer Recognition Internal Consistency
    2. 2. “The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated” – William James, Psychologist 2
    3. 3. Engine to High Performance Culture• 30% lower voluntary turnover (Bersin)• 12X greater business outcomes (Bersin)• Recognition is the engine that drives organizational culture• Firing on all cylinders 3
    4. 4. Great place to work• The Great Place to Work® institute includes camaraderie when evaluating what makes a successful work environment.• Relationship with other employees• Peer recognition triggers these qualities 4
    5. 5. Recognition Builds Connections“Many studies have shown that socialconnections with coworkers are a strongpredictor – some would say the singlepredictor – of job satisfaction.” Robert D. Putnam, Harvard Public Policy Professor & Author of Bowling Alone 5
    6. 6. An uncommon language• Appreciation – Acknowledging what’s going well – What’s right in the world 6
    7. 7. The Rat Race• Misconception of fixing problems• Crisis mode equated to being productive• Lack of time 7
    8. 8. Workplace issues• 54% of organizations lost high performing employees (T&D Mag)• #1 reason of leaving: Lack of appreciation (Dept of Labor) 8
    9. 9. CommunicationThe flow and content of communication is thelifeblood of an organization. 9
    10. 10. Communication and Behavior 10
    11. 11. Old Recognition Model• Communication: 1 to many• Recognition: Single winner• “Employee of the…” are event based, not ongoing• 87% of awards are based on sticking around (tenure) 11
    12. 12. Incoming Generation• Millennial: Born after 1980.• 65% rigid hierarchies fail to get most from them• Millennials want: – Flexible approach to work – Very regular feedback – And encouragement. 12
    13. 13. Influence of Millennials• Transparency, constant feedback• 51% feedback should be frequent/continual. 13
    14. 14. Changing workforce 14
    15. 15. New Model• Many-to-Many• Based on achievements – Not tenureThey want to feel their work is worthwhile and thattheir efforts are being recognized. 15
    16. 16. Demographics or Voice?• Are these new workplace preferences?Or• Are millennials just louder at expressing them? 16
    17. 17. Herzberg Study (1987)• Removed controls• Recognition for work• Granted authority 17
    18. 18. Herzberg Study (1987)• Month 2: Before• Month 8: After“How manyopportunities do you feelthat you have in your jobfor making worthwhilecontributions?” 18
    19. 19. Why Peers?• Close to each other – Proximity – Collaboration – Communication• Better understanding of the work performed, requirements to perform, and outcomes.• Managers are overburdened w/ work activities 19
    20. 20. Role of Recognition• Validation – Feeling valued for work you’ve accomplished• Reinforce culture – Builds and tells stories, vital for org identity 20
    21. 21. Role of Recognition• Collaboration – Connecting on shared work• Retention • If efforts matter, then less likely to leave• Productivity – More likely to make greater contributions 21
    22. 22. 3 characteristics• Timely – Recency effect• Specific – Narrow & descriptive• Behavioral – Action-based 22
    23. 23. Recognition vs. Appreciation• Appreciation • Recognition – Thank you – ARC – Good Job – SAIL – Good work – STAR 23
    24. 24. Useful acronyms• SAIL • ARC • STAR – Situation – Action – Situation – Action – Results – Task – Impact – Consequence – Action – Link – Result 24
    25. 25. Sustaining P-to-P Recognition• First rule: Simplicity.• Follow-up rule: Remove bureaucracy• Second rule: Measure to manage 25
    26. 26. Measurement/Tracking • Aligned to competencies • Alternative: skills, values Communication Formal Presentation Skills Team Leadership Coaching Quality OrientationDecision Making/Problem Solving Planning and Organizing Customer/Client Focus Collaboration Initiative Innovation Productivity Teamwork 0 5 10 15 20 25 26
    27. 27. Implementation -Systems• Tools: – Easy-to-use! – Paper-based or electronic systems• Measurement: – Track recognition – Job sat/engagement surveys 27
    28. 28. Implementation - Individuals• Mgr Involvement: – Mgrs can read recognition notes in a team meeting – Team reward for 100% participation – Recognize the recognition program!• Training: − Model positive communication − Demonstrate how it can be linked to values/goals − Promote fairness, & inclusion 28
    29. 29. Conclusion• Communication is the lifeblood of the organization• Peer-to-peer recognition helps: create connections• 3 components to recognition: – Timely – Specific – Behavioral• Align recognition to skills, competencies, or values• Millenials are calling for more frequent feedback 29
    30. 30. Connect & Communicate!