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Celebrate Your Team with the R.E.W.A.R.D. Recognition System

Folks love to know when they’ve done a great job.

It energizes them. It gives them purpose. It reinforces the positive behaviors.

And it makes them hungry for more.

When I was first beginning in Leadership, I had my team approach me to say that they thought I was too negative. They told me that I was always telling them what they did wrong and never seemed to see what they did right. That hurt, because in my head I thought I was doing an amazing job of recognizing their good works and rewarding them when they got it right.

So I took a hard look at my behavior and realized that I wasn’t doing as great a job as I thought I was.

Here is a CustServ Nation Tip: Keep a journal every day for one week documenting each interaction with your team and what you discuss. Be detailed, note positive versus negative comments, and evaluate the ratio. This isn’t anything difficult, but sadly most folks will never take the time to look at their behavior with the same level of scrutiny with which they evaluate their teams. Take the time to do this today (you can easily capture on your smart phone or tablet) and then see if you are hitting a good ratio.

When I tallied up my results I was very disappointed in my efforts because what my team told me was true – I was terrible at recognition. I made the decision then and there to make recognition a priority.

Am I perfect? Not even close. To this day, I have to be sure that I make recognition a priority in my every day leadership.

So why is it so critical to be great at recognition? Because it drives the behaviors you seek and also motivates your team to provide amazing Customer service. Happy Associates who feel like they are valued by their organizations deliver much better Customer service – it is driven by the reflective nature of your team and the feel-good impact of positivity.

So to illustrate the importance of recognizing amazing behaviors, here is a system that will help keep it top of mind.

If you want to win with employee engagement, follow the R.E.W.A.R.D. Recognition System.

Recognize Great Behaviors.

Everyone Deserves Recognition.

Winning is Cause for Celebration

Accentuate the Positive

Rewards Come in all Sizes

Deputize Everyone to Help

Let’s break it down and talk about it in detail:

RECOGNIZE GREAT BEHAVIORS You have to start by taking the time to reward and celebrate the wins. There is no doubt that amazing things are happening in your business every single day, but you have to stop long enough to see them. There is wisdom in taking time to stop and just observe what is happening in your organization every day. The other tip here is to be timely. There is nothing less impactful than waiting too long to give out kudos for a job well done. Remember there is a half-life to appreciation and the clock is ticking. Don’t wait for the right moment – just jump in there are recognize! The other piece of recognition is to understand that specificity matters. Don’t waste breathe on compliments like “thanks for all you are doing.” That is meaningless blather with absolutely no impact. Find something specific to praise when it comes to recognition and that will increase the impact exponentially.

EVERYONE DESERVES RECOGNITION Recognition cannot be hoarded or used for only certain portions of the work force. There is a philosophy out there that purports that only Front Line Associates or entry level managers are worthy of praise or recognition. That seems like a giant pile of nonsense wrapped in a rainbow of shenanigans. If someone does a great job, TELL THEM! There is no level of an organization where magically folks don’t need to know they are important or that they matter to the company. Take a moment to ask yourself if there are gaps in your recognition plan and then attack that void. Chances are you’ll start impacting an underappreciated segment of your organization and they’ll appreciate it greatly.

WINNING IS CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION Nothing should be rewarded more emphatically than behaviors that further your organizational agenda. It is even more important if you are in the middle of a change effort – feel free to go overboard on items that are in lock step with your values. Too often, during times of change, there is so much attention to keeping the organization between the guard rails that recognition is neglected. When you are lucky enough to have advocates who are really championing your goals and values, you will accelerate your success if you call out those who are helping you win. Trust me, it will help the rest of your team fall in line.

ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE There is nothing that kills an organization like negativity. There are staggering statistics out there that show that over 80% of those who leave organizations are quitting their bosses, not their jobs. One of the biggest reasons that folks make a change is because their direct supervisors don’t take the time to give them a pat on the back. It really isn’t that difficult. You can recognize a great safety behavior, a positive Guest interaction, or a clean work space. If you take the time to really watch folks during their work day, you’ll definitely find things worth calling out. Don’t wait for the big moment, but rather reward accomplishments of value. A good rule of thumb is a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative. Why? Because if you call out the great stuff your team is doing, they will be far more likely to correct negative actions when you bring them to their attention.

REWARDS COME IN ALL SIZES It is no secret that rewards are necessary and appreciated by teams at all levels of the organization. Those rewards can take many shapes and should be crafted to fit the achievement. Sometimes a pizza party for the team will be appropriate; other times you may give out movie tickets; and still other times a hand written thank you note will do the trick. Sometimes it is just enough to stop and say thank you face to face. The key is the scale the reward to accomplishment and understand how your teams like to be recognized. Remember that some folks are very private and would like their appreciation quickly behind closed doors and others like their “moment” to be more public. The key is to know your team well enough to make those distinctions and then act accordingly. DEPUTIZE EVERYONE TO HELP No one is exempt from providing recognition. Anyone who can’t be bothered to show the love to their team or think they are above such things have to be inspired to change. Quotas tend to take the blood out of recognition and make it seem like another box to check, but you have to keep track of those who may be having trouble in this area. Encourage and motivate your teams to want to provide amazing recognition by working hard to be great at it yourself. If you show everyone how important it is to you, and make sure the entire team sees you in action, you will motivate your teams to make it a priority as well. Also, make sure you give the power to everyone to give recognition. That could mean a program such as thank you cards for a monthly drawing that anyone can give to anyone. That makes for pure recognition that will mean a great deal to everyone. Wait until you observe a Front Line Associate give a card to their boss or a cashier write a card to a custodian. It is powerful and awe inspiring – and the best part is that it drives a culture of appreciation that cannot be rivaled.

So take some time to head out and catch your team doing something (or hopefully lots of things) right. I hope you are inspired by the amount of daily magic your teams are creating and that it motivates you to recognize and celebrate these fantastic moments of truth.

Until next time, treat your team like you would the most cherished of friends.


Tony Johnson Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker

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