3 years and counting…appreciation from the top down!


Today marks my three year anniversary at OC Tanner. We celebrated it last Friday as some of the team are away this week but it’s felt like one of those amazing extended birthdays where it ends up being a week of loveliness and still today the messages keep pouring in! Ecards that people must have taken the time to schedule so they arrived today so they didn’t forget…that says so much to me about the culture of appreciation we have here and how deep rooted it is in all that we do.
Like with any cultural piece though this doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time, it takes energy, it takes effort and it takes belief. We have the same challenges as any organisation, we just keep working through it and the messages keep coming from the top, role-modelled by our leaders and this cascades all the way down to the front line. I listened to a podcast by our CEO Dave Petersen a few weeks ago and as I started thinking about this post, I think his words will really get you thinking about how we make people feel in the workplace and what a powerful thing appreciation is.
If you have time to listen to the podcast, fast forward to around 4:18 where Dave talks about how appreciation events are an indispensable part of our culture here at OC Tanner.
He explains how if he’s in his Exec meeting and he knows that someone is celebrating a 25 year anniversary or is about to receive a silver award for the Great Work they have done then he will leave the meeting. He will not miss them as he wants everyone to know how important they are to him. Every time he’s involved, he loves listening to what colleagues are saying about each other as they know better than he does what they do on a daily basis.
Here’s the powerful bit for me though. He talks about going back to his office feeling confident. Grateful that he is surrounded by great people doing great work. He hears about our people doing what they are doing and he feels like we can do anything because he hears what people are saying about each other when they are expressing their appreciation. And as a leader, this is really important to hear. Outside of the numbers, outside of the data, those stories come from the people here at OC Tanner who are trying to make a difference every day and without the channels that we have in place to allow those stories to come out, it would be much harder for him to hear, in such a genuine way, all of those great stories.
And this is not just an American thing. I’ve seen THE most powerful moments of recognition happen within companies across the UK and generally it’s not about what you give that person, it’s how you make them feel.
Have a think about the leaders in your organisation? Have they ever viewed recognition and appreciation in this way? What would change if they did? Valuing our people is often viewed as the pink and fluffy stuff for some unapparent reason. Our CEO doesn’t see it that way. Valuing people in a genuine way linked to our business outcomes is one of the most powerful communication channels we have at our disposal. It makes visible what great looks like, it connects people in ways that technology cannot and it shines a spotlight on the potential in all of us to come to work each day and make a difference. Taking the time to share those stories is all it takes!
It’s three years for me today, I’m hoping it’s going to be much longer. Appreciation changes everything…it has for me and it can for you too!

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