Employee Recognition – Building Bridges Not Walls Part II

06.29.13Employee recognition is utmost appreciated if the event is timely and is done at a more public assembly. In this way, the imprint is more powerful. So, the employee recognition should examine more on the effort of the employee to accomplish tasks and not on the result itself.

Research has shown that by giving an equal weight to the employee’s intellectual, emotional, and psychological needs through employee recognition, the commitment of the staff is increased and therefore their productivity increased.

 In our last blog, we mentioned why you should consider employee recognition and the importance of planning a time for employee recognition. I have three more points to share with you in this blog in reference to employee recognition.

3. Instantaneous Employee Recognition

This method of employee recognition reduces the amount of credit received one on one and instead offers a demonstration of the achievements by the company and the employees role in achieving the targets and goals of the establishment. Either the company or the management team may award an employee recognition chiefly upon a praiseworthy effort, solidarity, accomplishment of an exclusive project, acquisition of a new company procedure, or simply expressing indebtedness to the employee for what they have achieved.

4. Ceremonial Employee Recognition

This type of employee recognition is done yearly. Because of its formality, the event showcases a very dazzling and impressive ceremony. This type of employee recognition concentrates on acknowledging the overall outstanding performance of an employee. The award itself is so special that every employee works towards being the recipient. Sometimes these rewards are referred to as; the president’s awards or the top 10 percent club for example. In this type of employee recognition, the most common awards are centered on the outstanding and remarkable performance of an employee or the department.

5. The Thinking Behind It

The main purpose of employee recognition is to build bridges, establish communication, and to acknowledge the importance of each employee in establishing the success of the whole organization.

Although employee recognition is important, it is important that employees must also remember that:

·         Employee recognition should not be expected

  • ·         It does not necessarily mean a  promotion
  • ·         It may not result in a raise or bonus
  • ·         Should be looked at as a gift
  • ·         It’s purpose is to motivate the group to thrive.



Encouraging Mentoring Trade

06.21.13An actual mentoring relationship can be best defined as a mutual search for wisdom. It is grounded in a true partnership that thrives on mutual simplification of learning.

This kind of relationship requires that the mentor surrender some of the power differences in order to build a relationship and trust. Learning cannot occur with anxiety in the room.

Authors Bell and Goldsmith, In Managers as Mentors, encourage the “SAGE” approach to forming the foundation for an effective mentorship:

S = Surrendering. Power, authority and command, or opinion of these traits in a mentor as seen by the person receiving the mentoring, can damage the exchange of ideas necessary for learning.

A = Accepting. Do your utmost for a safe relationship. The mentoree must trust the mentor to deliver an environment that encourages risk and experimentation.

G = Gifting. A mentor should give advice, feedback and/or focus. This is actually the most delicate stage. If the mentor has failed to pave the way for being yielding and patient, the mentoree may disregard, underestimate, resist or reject the gift being offered to them, the gift of knowledge.

E = Extending. A mentor must help the mentoree apply information to real-life experiences so self-directed learning may occur. Creative teaching tools include role-playing, feedback and storytelling.

There’s a great deal that goes into structuring and nurturing a successful mentoring relationship that truly works to motivate learning. It is vital to stay out of the expert guru throne.

Actually, it is a subtle balance between accurately knowing a lot, and trying to teach it to others while allowing  failure and learning from it.

What is your experience with it?


Do’s and Don’ts of Mentoring


Mentoring can take on many forms, but the goal is to find the right kind of advice, from the right person, at the right time.

In the February 2011 Harvard Business Review article, “Demystifying Mentoring,”  Amy Gallo offers the following guidelines:


  • Build a team of people you can turn to for advice when you need it
  • Encourage relationships with people whose viewpoints you respect
  • Look at  mentoring as both a long- and short-term arrangement


  • Assume that your success or experience prevents your need for a mentor
  • Be dependent on on one person to help guide your career
  • Anticipate to receive mentoring without providing anything in return

Chip Bell and Marshall Goldsmith, in Managers as Mentors, (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Third Edition, 2013) said  perfectly when they said “The most powerful yet difficult part of mentoring is being who you are,”. “This is not to imply that a mentor must be some kind of super-hero without flaws, doubts or the capacity for making mistakes. Fundamentally, mentoring is about growing—mentors growing with protégés, protégés growing with mentor

4 Steps to Facing Reality: Your Aha! Moment

It’s tough to face reality. We don’t always like it, so we often distort it. We delude ourselves by finding ways to see ourselves as heroes.

When you’re mired in a difficult situation, ask yourself whether you want to be “right” or open to finding a breakthrough solution. Instead of being defensive and asserting your point of view, ask questions and seek win-win possibilities.

Achieving a breakthrough means leaving the past behind. Old actions and attitudes may have worked in the past, but it’s time to consider new ones. Replace your victim state of mind with a willingness to explore a new reality, possibilities and imagine your part in it. Recognize what you can and cannot change, and create a plan of action.

Stay in the Game

When Survivor competitors are voted off the island, TV audiences tend to favor blustery rhetoric and weak excuses over true accountability.

The same happens in real life. We come up with excuses and blame others when problems and conflicts arise, giving ourselves subconscious permission to excuse ourselves and blame others. It’s much harder to be courageous accepting harsh realities and take personal responsibility.

In The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability, Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman identify four critical steps to recovering from a setback:

  1. See It. Recognize and acknowledge the full reality of a situation.
  2. Own It. Accept full responsibility for your current experiences and realities.
  3. Solve It. Change these realities by identifying solutions (many of which you’ve never previously considered).
  4. Do It. Summon the commitment and courage to follow through with these solutions, even when they force you to take risks.

“Ultimately, we alone determine the course of our lives and the measure of happiness we achieve,” they write. It’s impossible to change reality and create new possibilities if you refuse to accept responsibility for your experiences. Accountability contributes to lasting success.

Next time you’re facing a rough situation, see it, own, it, solve it and then do it. Working with a professional coach like me helps you to get unstuck and take forward consistent action. Above all, don’t allow yourself to just survive – Thrive.

Bouncing Back: What Can You Change?

When I coach individuals in the coaching work I do about bouncing back and building resiliency from change or loss I remind people to focus on the things they can change instead of rehashing the stories that happened to them.

People naturally know this, but forget to do.  We are conditioned to tell the terrible story.

You can’t change other people, places or things. The only thing you can change is your thinking, beliefs and actions, including your self-talk. Those are the keys to bouncing back and being resilient.

Here’s the challenging part: approaching situations differently usually involves processes that are uncomfortable and foreign to us. For example, you may need to take a risk and leave your comfort zone. You may have to call someone you’ve been avoiding. You may need to confront an issue or be willing to ask for help.

This is hard, and especially difficult to do on your own. That’s why so many people decide to work with a coach. Everybody needs someone to talk things through before taking a risk.

Embracing and acting on these realities may seem like an excruciating prospect. You’ll need to shed your protective cocoon and open yourself up to possibly. Cocoons are merely illusions of safety.

You cannot reach your dream without shedding your old skin and learning to think anew.  You can’t land another job unless you’re brave enough to apply. You can’t benefit from retraining until you sign up for relevant programs or classes.

If you fail to take responsibility for your thoughts and actions you will never be able to live into the possibilities that are out there for you.  You’ll be stuck in a bad movie. Like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, you’ll just keep replaying the same mistakes.

What’s been your experience with bouncing back? I’d love to hear from you.

Choosing Your Own Reality

Reality can suck, especially on TV. Contestants are regularly voted off the island, fired from apprentice jobs and judged to be lacking in any discernible talent.

In “real life,” serious disappointments are likewise bitter pills to swallow. Many of us have endured significant economic hardships — from downsizing and outright business failures to mortgage crises and investment losses. Few of us have escaped unaffected.

Some people are more resilient, bouncing back quickly. Others struggle to cope with the changes forced upon them. What makes the ‘realities’ different?

While few of us personally contributed to the housing bubble and bank collapses, each of us must take ownership of our responsibility to effect personal change and move forward. It may be tempting to see yourself as an unfortunate victim, but this line of thinking leaves you feeling helpless. When you assign yourself the role of victim, you deplete the energy and creative energy you need to be resilient.

Is it time to view your situation in a different way — an approach that many of us inherently fear and resist. You have to get to make a choice:

  • Are you ready to take steps to remedy the situation?
  • Do you want to remain stuck?
  • Do you want to flourish?

Meer survival has little energy or movement to it.  Thriving however energizes us to move forward. The problem is, we’re profoundly affected by loss. It drains our physical and emotional reserves, and it can contaminate our thought processes. Instead of optimism about the future, we can become prone to negative thinking, doubts and fears.

These tough situations and emotions are good reasons to work with a coach like myself. You can’t know what you don’t know, and your best thinking probably won’t lead you out of a negative hole. The foundation of my Sustainable Leadership Coaching is Resilience and Adaptability.

Acknowledging reality is one thing. Choosing to thrive see and responding to situations differently requires courage and imagination.

How do you manage your view of reality – resiliency? I’d love to hear from you.

Hitting the Mark with Your Public Relations Strategy

Managers, there’s some good news on the public relations front. The right public relations planning really CAN alter individual perception and lead to changed behaviors among your key outside audiences. Therefore, try to remember that your PR effort must demand more than special events, news releases and talk show tactics if you’re to receive the quality results you deserve. Doing so may result in:

  1. Capital givers or specifying sources beginning to look your way;
  2. Customers begin to make repeat purchases;
  3. Membership applications start to rise;
  4. New proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures start showing up;
  5. Politicians and legislators begin looking at you as a key member of the business, non-profit or association communities;
  6. New (and very ) welcome bounces in show room visits occur;
  7. Prospects actually start to do business with you; and/or
  8. Community leaders begin to seek you out.

Your public relations professionals can be of real use for your new opinion monitoring project because they are already in the perception and behavior business. Be certain, however, that the PR staff really accepts why it’s SO important to know how your most important outside audiences perceive your operations, products or services. Above all, be sure they believe that perceptions almost always result in behaviors that can help or hurt your operation.

Go over your plans with them for monitoring and gathering perceptions by questioning members of your most important outside audiences. Ask questions like these:

  • How much do you know about our organization?
  • Have you had prior contact with us and were you pleased with the interchange?
  • Are you familiar with our services or products and employees?
  • Have you experienced problems with our people or procedures?

The cost of using professional survey firms to do the opinion gathering work will be considerably more than using those PR folks of yours, who are already in the perception business, in that monitoring capacity. But whether it’s your people or a survey firm asking the questions, the objective remains the same: identify untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors, inaccuracies, misconceptions and any other negative perception that might translate into hurtful behaviors.

It’s time to establish a goal-focused call for action on the most serious problem areas you uncovered during your key audience perception monitoring. Will it be to straighten out that dangerous misconception? Correct that gross inaccuracy? Or, stop that potentially painful rumor cold?

It goes without saying that setting your PR goal requires an equally specific strategy that tells you how to get there. Only three strategic options are available to you when it comes to doing something about perception and opinion:

  1. Change existing perception,
  2. Create perception where there may be none, or
  3. Reinforce it.

The wrong strategy pick will taste like pancake syrup on your parmesan crusted tilapia so be sure your new strategy fits well with your new public relations goal. You certainly don’t want to select “change” when the facts dictate a strategy of reinforcement.

Here, good writing comes to the fore. You must prepare a persuasive message that will help move your key audience to your way of thinking. It must be a carefully-written message targeted directly at your key external audience. Select your very best writer because s/he must come up with really corrective language that is not merely compelling, persuasive and believable, but clear and factual if they are to shift perception/opinion towards your point of view and lead to the behaviors you have in mind.

At this point, you must select the communications tactics most likely to carry your message to the attention of your target audience. There are many available. From speeches, facility tours, emails and brochures to consumer briefings, media interviews, newsletters, personal meetings and many others. Be certain, however, that the tactics you pick are known to reach folks just like your audience members.

Since the credibility of any message is fragile and always up for grabs, how you communicate is a concern. Thus, you may wish to unveil your corrective message before smaller meetings and presentations rather than using higher-profile news releases.

Inevitably, the need for a progress report will cause you to begin a second perception monitoring session with members of your external audience. You’ll want to use many of the same questions used in the benchmark session. This time, you’ll be on strict alert for signs that the bad news perception is being altered in your direction.

And there you have it. Putting these tactical devices to use allows managers to alter individual perception in a way that leads to changed behaviors among key outside audiences, and thus insuring the success of that manager’s operation.

4 Ways to Make Your Team Building Weekend a Success

Somewhere in the world this afternoon, a group of co-workers are strapping on safety equipment and preparing to scale the side of a cliff together. In another city, another group is engaged in a retreat designed to foster their sense of teamwork. Late at night in yet another town, six men who usually compete in the office are cooperating on building a robot. What do they all have in common?

The phrase is team building, and it has come to represent a way of doing business that takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of each member of a workgroup. The basic concept of team building weekends is to bring a group of coworkers together and, by subjecting them to various hardships, events and activities, cement them into a team that supports each other and works together toward a common goal.

The only problem with that scenario is that all too often, it doesn’t work. Once the group is back at the office, they fall back into the old ways of working and the team building weekend is no more than a fond memory. The problem is not in the concept of team building, but in the notion that it can be accomplished in a weekend, no matter what that weekend entails. It’s not that team building weekends are a bad idea … it’s that they’re expected to do a job that should be undertaken in your office, every workday of the year. The purpose of a team building event should be to introduce, reinforce and reward, not to single-handedly forge a group of coworkers into a team. If it’s used to replace the work your company (or you as a manager) should be doing every day, then you’re missing out on some important points – and the major benefits of dragging everyone out of the office for a weekend of challenging activities.

So how do you forge the bonds of a team if not by dipping them into the crucible of a team building weekend? In simple terms, you can’t just talk the talk … you have to walk the walk. If you want your staff to believe they’re a team and function as a team, then you have to treat them as such, with you as one of its important members. Here are four things to remember when planning your next team building weekend:

  1. Communication is the key to building a team. The single biggest mistake that ‘management’ makes is failure to communicate. Your company doesn’t have to be an open book to all employees but sharing goals and intentions gives employees a sense that they’re a part of a larger team working toward a specific purpose.
  2. Build teamwork into the work flow. In order to work as a team, people need to be treated as one. Start each project with a team conference to define and refine goals. Create a central ‘lounge’ area where team members are comfortable grabbing coffee in the morning – and taking a few moments to catch up on things together. Hold regular team meetings where team members can report progress and delays so that no one feels left out of the loop.
  3. Make recognition of achievement a priority. Recognizing achievement is important to reinforcing the team feeling. It doesn’t need to be formal – in fact, informal and unexpected recognition can be very potent. A word in passing in the hallway, a moment taken to pass on praise from a client while having a cup of coffee, a casual “great work on that proposal, guys” at the end of a meeting are all part of the teamwork frame.
  4. Make time to play as a team, too. Whether the play is a softball team, a bowling league or a semi-annual weekend where the team members can really stretch their wings, teams work best when they have something in common besides their work. A trek up a snowy mountainside builds shared memories that help cement the bonds that have formed throughout the year.

As a leader in your organization, do you see the merit in team building weekends? If so, how well have they worked for you? I’d love to hear about your experience.

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing Your Next Presentation

In leadership, you may find that you’re often tasked with giving presentations. The preparation you put into them can make or break how successful they will be. Remember, truly memorable disasters don’t just happen. They require a special blend of misunderstanding and misguided effort. Here are three mistakes to avoid so your next presentation won’t be a disaster:

Mistake #1: Believe in Magic

In this case, you show up hoping that a coherent, eloquent, useful presentation will magically appear once you start speaking, avoiding any type of preparation and simply winging it.

  • Undesired Result: Everyone is amazed by the presentation because they expected more. They’re also bored and disappointed. They may even become upset because an unprepared presentation insults the audience by wasting their time. Unprepared presentations sound like, well, unprepared presentations.
  • Desired Result: Prepare by identifying the goal for your presentation. Design a presentation that achieves that goal, and talk with key members of the audience about their expectations. Once you’ve prepped, rehearse.

Mistake #2: Memorize Your Speech

Here, you spend untold hours committing every precious word to memory so that you can recite it even if awakened in the middle of the night.

  • Undesired Result: You sound like a machine. And if you stumble on a word, you can become stuck–speechless. I’ve seen this happen, and it’s painful.
  • Desired Result: Learn your presentation. Yes, write a script. Memorize the first and last sentences and then practice giving the presentation without looking at the script. Practice many times. Eventually, you will learn how to convey the key ideas in a natural, normal way.

Mistake #3: Talk about Yourself

In this instance, you focus entirely on yourself. Tell about your background, your credentials, and your history. Tell your story. Just talk about yourself. Make the presentation all about you, yourself, and your life.

  • Undesired Result: They listen politely. If you manage to be entertaining enough, they may actually pay attention. Otherwise, the audience reacts by thinking, “So what?”
  • Desired Results: Talk about the audience. That is, talk about what they need and how they can achieve it.

What other presentation tips do you suggest? I’d love to hear your feedback.


7 Reasons Why a Team Charter Can Improve Your Team’s Success

Thousands of teams are formed in businesses around the world each day, and most of those teams flounder unnecessarily for too long. There’s one simple practice that can improve the results of most any team, whether formed for a short project or as a new working unit, and that practice is team chartering.

A team charter is a document that serves as both guidance and a roadmap for any team’s success.  When used most effectively, this tool clarifies the purpose for the team’s existence and documents the agreements amongst the team members.

Here are the seven reasons why a team chartering process will be of great benefit when forming any team.

  1. Shows support and commitment. One of the key components to an effective team charter is the identification of a team sponsor or a person outside of the team that can provide support and direction to the team.  Many teams flounder because they don’t have a “go to” person they can rely on when they get stuck or encounter obstacles.  The team charter is one way for those sponsors to communicate their interest and support.  The charter also provides the team with the assurance that such a person exists.
  2. Sets team direction. A good team charter will provide a team with the rationale and goals for the team. Often teams are formed without these ideas having been clearly defined.  This is a problem not only for the creation of the team but makes the work of the team exceedingly difficult. How do you know what to do when you don’t know the specific goals and objectives you are supposed to achieve? If I could have only one component to any team charter it would be a clear definition of the direction, goals to be reached, and problems to be solved by the team.
  3. Provides agreements and clarity. Charters provide more than just overall direction and alignment to the organization’s overall purpose. The best charters also provide a chance for the team itself to build agreements about how they will operate, make decisions, how often they will meet, and many other logistical issues.
  4. Structures and ensures and effective planning process. Too often in our fast-paced world, teams move too quickly to building a solution because they think that immediate action is required.  With this perspective, they spend too little time in planning for successful action.  A team chartering process, form, or checklist helps make sure a team plans successfully before moving forward. The time spent in planning initially will be repaid many times over during the life of the team – both in time saved and frustration avoided.
  5. Identifies roles. Will the same person facilitate each meeting? Who is the team leader? Are there specific expectations of the team members? What roles will each individual will play?  Does every team member understand why they’re there and what expertise they can provide?  A team chartering process can help answer all of these questions, and thereby help any team be more successful more quickly.
  6. Outlines boundaries and scope. Often teams wonder what’s inside of their control and what is actually expected of them.  A good chartering process should help a team understand what their boundaries are what their limitations are what parts of the problem they are responsible for etc.
  7. Sets resources. Teams often wonder what about their level of authority. Can they hire consultants? Can they bring in outside experts? What is their budget? Can they bring in additional resources within the organization? A good chartering document will help set both the resource requirements and levels of authority the team has to acquire more resources when needed.
  8. Improves productivity, and the likelihood of successful outcome. Okay, so there are more than seven.  All of the first seven benefits lead to this one – the ultimate benefit of all.  Successfully chartering will improve the likelihood that the team will be less frustrated take less time and create greater results.

The importance of a team chartering process can’t be overstated.  Remember that the form, format or template you use is less important than the time spent in conversation and dialogue to make sure what you document is realistic, and relevant.  Remember too that you want to create something not as an exercise but as a living document for the team to use as both a guide and a roadmap.

When you invest the time to do a team charter, you’ll truly help the team as a whole be more successful.  And you’ll also be providing a highly valued structure to help individual team members be less frustrated and more productive.