Lost purse leads to amazing customer service!

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Being the slightly ditzy person that I am (I know it’s hard to believe!), I once again found myself in a situation where I’d lost my purse and was having to go through the process of cancelling my cards. The fact that the most likely reason for me losing it is because I left it on top of my car and then drove off is another story!!!!

Anyhow, the reason I write this short and sweet blog is because on a trip to my high street bank, I experienced some of the best customer service I’ve received for a long time. Two ladies behind the counter bent over backwards to help with what I needed and were absolutely lovely in the process. So I decided to find their manager and let them know what a great job they’d done. I asked one of their colleagues if I could speak to their manager and you could see immediately that they thought that someone was in trouble! The manager came out and couldn’t have been nicer but was also hesitant to begin with and surprised when all I had to give was positive feedback. The best thing for me though was seeing her immediately take some action to feed this back on to the two ladies who had made my day.

It made me a bit sad to think that for the most part we are so used to hearing how we could “improve this”, “make this better”, “try harder” that recognition for a job well done comes as a surprise.

When you’re out and about – whether at work or at play – if you see somebody deliver great service, go out of their way to help you or just make you smile – let them know that it makes a difference to you!

Appreciation changes everything!

 

Not another recognition programme!

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The more I get out there speaking to companies and actually spending time out in their businesses on the front line, the more it ignites an even deeper passion in me for what we do. The impact, the culture, and the special moments we help create.

At OC Tanner, we have cutting edge technology and tools, we have an extensive award and voucher catalogue, we provide reporting and all the stuff that you need in shiny packaging, we have research, case studies and evidence to prove the ROI…

However, when it boils down to it, does any of this really matter if your managers don’t see the value in it? If their mindset means that they don’t understand the important role that appreciation has to play in driving the performance outcomes in your organization?

Companies need to invest in the training. Exec teams need to be challenged to think about appreciation as a vital part of their business strategy. Managers need guidance as to how to recognise their teams in a genuine, fair and effective way to role model what good looks like. Appreciation and its role needs to form part of an employee’s journey: from induction, to receiving a promotion, to evaluating performance.

It also needs to be owned by the business not just HR. We need to help you find your champions all over the business. We need to engage your leadership team, L&D, Talent, Communications, Reward, GM’s , Store Managers – basically as many people as we can physically get to!

It is my job to show you that recognition should never be seen as just a programme. It is my job to convince you that to do this right, you need to invest where it matters. It is my job to help you as much as I can, by spending time out in the business to dig out the champions, to drive the sustainability of this for the long-term and bring appreciation to life to make it business as usual.

This appreciation stuff is really important, it makes a difference to everyone at every level…let’s make sure we do it properly.

It’s not just and never should be ‘just another recognition programme’!

Quote and image shared from http://www.quotessays.com/appreciation.html

Doing the right thing…

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How often do we encourage people to do the right thing? Do we let them know when they have? I’ve had some interesting conversations around this recently and it reminded me of a case study for Fulham Football Club. We’re so lucky to have Robert Ordever working with us now at OC Tanner as our European People and Operations Director. The relationship started at one of our events and this is what Robert had to say at the time…

After listening to the O.C. Tanner Learning Group keynote speech on recognition and appreciation, Ordever saw where recognition could help, “We’ve tended to treat recognition as something that happens in award presentations perhaps monthly, perhaps every two months, and what we were missing out on was the power of praising the smaller milestones.”

It’s simple really: Thank people at the right times for doing the right thing. As Ordever explains, “We were cheering the goal, but not cheering the great passes and moves that lead to the goal. And not doing it at the instant, at the moment, made us miss our chance to have that behaviour repeated. If you can show people what ‘great’ looks like, you’ll see it repeated.”

Ordever invited the O.C. Tanner Learning Group to train 150 managers as a way to get the message out. “O.C. Tanner’s training tied into our values and showed our managers the impact appreciation does have on business.”

A message that is being received, “I believe in any organization there is a certain amount of cynicism when it comes to saying ‘thank you’, but the Learning Group presentation overcame that,” says Graham Gilmore, Venues Operations Director. “To sit in our own environment and learn about this concept of recognition and appreciation put us all on the same playing field. We were all given the same challenge. And though it might not be comfortable, we laughed our way through it.”

“Every idea goes through the ridicule, discuss, adopt phases—and this was no different,” explains Ordever. “The idea of the ‘soft thank you’ may not seem natural to my managers or fit into what can be a macho environment. But almost immediately after our sessions, I have received very positive feedback. It’s being discussed.The key for me is what we do with this knowledge next: adopt a culture of appreciation into our organization.” (Here’s the link to the original case study)

Sometimes to make a difference all it takes is telling people that what they did was right which encourages them to do more of it. Doing the right thing often takes courage, it means putting yourself out there but it reaps the rewards. Make sure you are clear about what ‘doing the right’ thing means in your organization and then encourage managers to reinforce those behaviours whenever they see it. Every company has values, sometimes it just takes a little time to help people understand that a value is so much more than a word, it’s a guiding principle for your vision as an organization. Share the stories when you see great work happen, celebrate when even more of it happens and shout about it when the business results follow!

Alright stop, collaborate and listen!!

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That’s where the Vanilla Ice motivational quote stops you’ll be pleased to know!! 🙂 

I recently took part in the rather wonderful ‘Collaborate Live’ series of Google Hang Outs on Air with Bev Holden (@stickythinker) of the Clear Thinking Partnership. You can watch it back here if you fancy some enthusiastic Dawn type ponderings on all things collaboration and appreciation:

Life is a collaboration!

To summarise, we talked about how for me life is one big collaboration. My journey to do the interview was a story of lots of little collaborations with multiple touch points. In fact I worked it out and there are more than 10 people involved and lots more conversations that were had before I crossed paths with Bev. I tried to create a diagram to demonstrate this but it got too complicated and long-winded and I would have put you all to sleep!! We did create a video to bring this to life with specific mentions of the people at the end. I’m conducting a poll to see if you would like to see it in the spirit of inclusiveness, collaboration and appreciation. Vote now and have your say…

 

The importance of social media

What interested me most though was how social media is deeply embedded throughout it all. My journey started with a recruitment consultant approaching me on LinkedIn creating an opportunity to join OC Tanner. Twitter was the catalyst to get blogs out there and share content and views of the world. The other part comes down to being brave enough to get yourself out there and have conversations. It’s amazing how the small interactions lead to a moment in time when something happens. It’s probably not often that we stop and think about it.

Collaboration starts with a conversation which in turn creates an opportunity for another conversation. We absorb information, we take it in and we use it.

It’s the same with appreciation. We say a genuine thank you, we make a difference to someone’s day and we want to do the same for someone else. It has a knock-on effect and it becomes something we do naturally without having to think about it. We sometimes just need reminding how powerful it can be!

Give with a generous heart!

For me, I love the connectedness of the world we live in. I believe it should be used for good and to make things better. I feel good when I make a difference for somebody else big or small. The lesson for me is that if we think about life as a journey and if we think about collaboration as a journey too, then all we need to do is embrace life with an open heart and an open mind, enjoy conversations wherever they arise, be passionate about what we do and be willing to give even if there is no return.

If we do this then life will reward you well with not only lovely people but a myriad of possibilities and opportunities that wouldn’t have existed otherwise!

Big thank you’s to the people who have been part of my collaboration journey so far! @ianharwooduk @ryskicheyne @kingfishercoach @jill_rowley @EmmaBrowes @ConnectingHR @projectlibero @octanner @stickythinker

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The importance of balance – taking it one brick at a time!

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One Brick at a TimeWe’re just coming to the end of a full on house renovation. For anyone who has been through this, it’s a complete upheaval!

This weekend marked a momentous milestone though, at long last,our kitchen was fully functioning! I honestly feel like a different woman! I know our environments are important to us, but what I didn’t realise was how much my kitchen meant to me. It’s where I feel in control – its where our family comes together, its where I make sure our kids are fed and watered and it is the heartbeat of our house. Without it, we’ve been a bit lost!

I came across this wheel recently whilst doing my NLP practitioner course/workshop and it got me thinking about the juggling act we face to create balance in our lives. My physical environment has been out of kilter now for six months and it has had a knock-on effect on several of the other areas on the wheel. It made me realise that there are few times in our lives where we are able to create true balance and actually there are certain things that are out of our control.

Wheel of Life

Working in this space though, it makes me feel even more passionately that we have a responsibility to make our workplaces the best they possibly can be. We need to create a physical environment at work that encourages people to develop and grow. We need to give people a sense of opportunity and inclusiveness. We need to encourage people to look after themselves both physically and mentally. We need to have fun and get to know the people around us as people, not just colleagues.

My job is to weave appreciation in as an underpinning thread, that shifts the balance of the conversations towards all the positive things. What can you affect today to help your people achieve balance at work?

The power of a story, inspiring young talent and sparkly red shoes!

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I attended a conference recently called ‘Grow Your Own Talent’ at the International Festival for Business in Liverpool. One of my biggest take-aways from this was a half an hour breakout session with a young man called James. He had just completed work experience at Royal Sun and Alliance organized through the local Career Academy and he was tasked with asking us some questions around our careers and where they started!! It was a brilliant idea and for me it brought to mind a picture I think we’ve probably all seen doing the rounds on the LinkedIn circuit recently.

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Every person has a story and more often than not, the story has ups, it has downs, it has lefts, it has rights, in fact sometimes it goes full circle.

Everyone who spoke talked of a ‘journey’…a journey that they were still on…a journey that could change at any given moment because of a circumstance, an opportunity, being in the right place at the right time.

We hear a lot about story-telling at the moment and the power that this has…the power for me and I’m sure it was the same for James, is that stories expose are vulnerability, they show that we are real people, that mistakes happen and that the world of work is challenging to say the least. Bad decisions are sometimes made but everything that happens helps us to learn. It’s a bit like the ‘yellow brick road’ in the Wizard of Oz…the way is paved with setbacks along the way but with the right people to guide you and shiny red shoes, you’ll be just fine. It hopefully guides us on our journey to realize who we are and what we stand for (to trust our instincts and our heart like the tin man), to become more resilient (like the scarecrow), to stand up for what we believe in (like the cowardly lion) and to have courage in our convictions (like Dorothy!).

I believe it’s important to share more stories. Often the world presents us with a viewpoint that we have no reason not to believe. For young people, the pressures must feel enormous. To go to university or not, to go straight to work, to earn money and stand on your own two feet, to enter into massive debt, to leave home, to buy a house, etc ,etc ,etc. Real life stories from real life people – just like you and me – help put these viewpoints into perspective to help young people to understand that life isn’t perfect, it won’t ever be exactly what it says on the tin but hey, it can be a whole lot of fun and in 20 years when you’re looking back and telling your own squiggly story of success, you can smile and remember that mistakes are there to be made so we can learn from them and become better people because of them!

My journey to becoming an Appreciateologist is no different. It’s as squiggly as they get but I’m so glad I’m here. I’m here because this stuff matters to me so much more than just a job. It matters to me because of who I am and what I believe in. This comes from a place where I’ve been on the receiving end of recognition and appreciation done appallingly. This was the best and biggest learning part in my life though. The times when our values are challenged kick starts something within us to fight back and stand up for ourselves and all that we are and it makes us realize that we have choices in life and that ‘journey’ we talk about is ours for the taking. My mission is to help companies to really see how appreciation can change the direction of an individual, a team and a company because I know it to be true. It has worked for me, I see it working all around me and through my own story, I hope to inspire others along the way!

Hopefully for James, our stories inspired him to know that life is a journey, our careers are a journey and much like Christopher Columbus said:

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”

Let’s inspire our young people by being honest with them and sharing our stories so they have the courage to forge out their own paths and realize that the path to success is an adventure but an adventure so worth taking!!!

Unpacking my suitcase…how appreciation helped me on my journey!

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I know I go on about it all the time but appreciation really does change everything. I often think the most powerful way of getting this across is by telling my own story.

A few weeks ago I celebrated my first year with OC Tanner. It was a great year, a challenging year, a scary year, an emotional year and lots of things in between. I’d moved from a company where the focus was always on ‘what you’re not doing’ to a company that really does focus on the positive. This was an amazing shift and exactly what I hoped it would be but I also didn’t quite trust it. I always had the fear that at some point, the truth would reveal itself and I would be in the grasp of another company who talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk.

“Unpack your suitcase’ said Ian

The amazing @Kingfishercoach (Ian Pettigrew) very kindly gave me some strengths coaching recently and he perfectly described how I felt…”I’d found my home but hadn’t unpacked my suitcase”! What a great analogy…there was a part of me holding back, a part of me just waiting a bit longer just to make sure it was right, that I fitted in, that it was the perfect company in every way. Ian’s suggestion to me was to go away, unpack my suitcase and be my big-hearted positive self! So I have and the positive reinforcement from my peers has helped me get there much faster.

Celebrating one year with OC Tanner

These are some of the things that people said at my one year anniversary…

“The most refreshing thing about you is your motivation and drive to really make a difference in the work place. You really DO want to create a better place to work for people and your passion for this is truly inspiring to me and the whole team”.

“I have to say you are one of the most passionate appreciateologists I have ever met. Your passion shines through every time you speak about our company and what we do. I am sure you have all seen the movie Miracle on 34th street where the little girl manages to get the whole of America to believe in Santa Claus one by one. This reminds me of Dawn and I picture her in a meeting speaking about OC Tanner and eventually everyone round the table saying ‘I believe’!”.

“Your energy and enthusiasm knows no bounds and I love the fact you’re so full of great ideas even if sometimes slightly on the wacky side and you’re always willing to go out of your way to help others’.

“You have only been here for one year but it feels like you have always been here. You are the glue that keeps this team together, always good for a hug, a coffee and a chat. I know you were right for OC Tanner when you kicked me under the table when I interviewed you!”

How do you think I felt when I heard these amazing things being said (and also printed off so I could keep and remember them!)…yep that’s right, on top of the world. I felt valued, I felt noticed, I felt that people really cared about me too and also that I fitted right in.

We do walk the walk here. We do practice what we preach. We are not perfect but what is perfect. What we are though is driven to make a difference. To get companies to go out and appreciate their people. To recognize what great work looks like and to tell people when they see it happening. To value the contributions that people make not just once but throughout the course of their careers. If I can help companies on that journey through my amazing job then that makes me happy!

How has appreciation made a difference for you?

Look Up…remember a smile is the best curve on your body but how will you know if people can’t see it!

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I watched a really powerful YouTube clip earlier today called ‘Look Up’. If you follow me on social media then I posted this on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter too. Here it is again if you missed it…

I am as guilty as the next person of looking down A LOT and feeling a physical twitch when I don’t have my phone to see what’s going on in the world…and yes I do this when I should be spending time with my family too and am consciously trying to stop myself doing this! The clip really made me stop and think about the moments I have missed or not appreciated fully as I was half looking at my phone or screen at the time.

I’m not saying that I’m going to stop using social media or get rid of my devices! I love it from a work perspective and have really enjoyed getting to know new people through twitter (and meeting them in person I hasten to add!), share content, build connections and keep up to speed through LinkedIn and keep friends and families up to date with our lives when we can’t see them as often as we would like through Facebook. I think these are all great things and I think connections can be made through finding like-minded people when blogging, etc…the danger comes when it becomes addictive and you define yourself by your online presence and digital communications rather than much stronger bonds that are formed when you are physically in the same room looking at another person and seeing the twinkle in their eye when they smile, seeing the enthusiasm in their face when you hit the nail on the head and find a common interest). When you realize that you’ve said completely the wrong thing and you can see it in their face.

I came across a great article in the Huffington Post that really made sense too and include it below by Karen Van Bergen (thanks Karen). Karen wrote the article below and this paragraph really resonated with me:

Deep, satisfying relationships require attention, focus, interest — and most of all — our actual physical presence. Whether it is with your clients, your coworkers, your partner, your children or your friends, you must be physically and mentally present. If you want to build true connections, you must take the time and make the effort to actually be with the people to whom you wish to connect. It sounds so obvious, but it is so frequently missed.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-van-bergen/where-should-we-meet-sustaining-real-connection-in-a-hyper-connected-world_b_4221484.html

At OC Tanner, we talk a lot about creating human-to-human connections within companies through recognition moments. For larger companies, technology needs to be the enabler to facilitate these moments but that’s not enough. The technology has to prompt and give people the opportunity to bond with their teams. It has to get people thinking about how powerful it can be to physically get a small group of people together and talk about the great work that is going on. How far-reaching it can be to actually listen to someone receiving recognition in a genuine and sincere way so much so that they go away and think about how they can ‘get me some of that’! Our nature as human beings is to feel connected, truly connected to others and be in the same room.

Do something different today…

So do one thing today (and yes you can use technology as the enabler to do this!!) – arrange to meet a friend, set-up a meeting with someone you haven’t seen for ages, turn your devices off for the evening and knock on a neighbours door…my first blog talked about ‘A smile being the best curve on your body’ – go out today and share that smile with someone else!

Over and out!

Thanks to thingsweforget.blogspot.com for the image!

“Vision gives pain a purpose” – inspiring words from Kelly Clark and the power of an emotional connection!

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I normally come back from our Salt Lake City office inspired by something and funnily enough this time was no different! My inspiration this time was from the Team USA snow-boarding champion Kelly Clark. What an amazing lady – amazing because of what she’s achieved but more than anything because of who she is, what she stands for and the integrity and gratitude that she showed when telling her story. I also felt truly proud to work for OC Tanner. You might not know this but we create the Team USA rings for the Olympics and even created the medals for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002. Here’s a link to read some really inspiring stories.

Kelly represented the US for her fourth consecutive Winter Olympics in Sochi and over her career has brought back one gold and two bronze medals. The year she didn’t make the podium was one of the most challenging things she’s ever had to overcome. What she learnt from this though was a great perspective as to the value of what things cost. If you think about it, at the Olympics, everyone who competes works so incredibly hard to get there, most people will have their own story to tell but only three people have something to show for it in each sport.

“Vision gives pain a purpose”

Kelly knew that she wasn’t ready to give up and she decided that the ring that OC Tanner had given her way back when she was 18 years old was the key to staying focused on that dream of getting on that podium again. She said to herself,

“What if I wear this ring every day? Why? Well when I wake up in the morning and want to sleep in, I reach down and feel that ring on my finger and remember why I need to get up and get out. When I’m out on the slopes practicing all day every day, I can feel the ring under my gloves and look and remember all that I’ve done and all that I can do. When I’m having a bad day, it reminds me what I’m capable of. It’s something that’s with me every day to inspire me to carry on, to drive me forward and to keep me focused on the end goal of being on that podium again.”

What gives something value? It’s the cost to you, not in a monetary sense but in a way that’s personal to you. It’s a symbolic reminder of your personal journey to reach your goals.

For me it really reinforced in me this immense sense of pride in the exact same experiences we are trying to create in organisations all over the world every day. If we bring it back to the point I made earlier about the Olympics and the fact that everyone works so hard but only the people on the podium get a medal, do we do that in our organisations? How many people get touched by recognition in your organization? And if we look at how hard most people work, is it right that only a select few should get recognized?

Surely we should be inspiring the people that work for us to do more great things as often as we can by recognizing the little things (that lead to the big things) along the way. We should be encouraging them to set goals, believe in the company’s vision and mission and recognize them for their on-going effort.

Our people bring an immense amount of value to our businesses every day and often there is some degree of personal cost to them in terms of time, energy and commitment, surely we can take the time to say thank you, you did great, we value you, you make a difference! I know the cynics out there will say, well that’s what we pay you for. My argument to that would be, times are changing. People want to feel part of something and feel valued for their contributions. We are more educated and socially-aware than we’ve ever been and we also have visibility to everything else that is going on in the world through the internet and social media. Companies that genuinely value and look after their people will lead out.

We all need a purpose, something we believe in and often work ticks that box for a lot of us. Use that to your advantage, create a culture you feel proud to be a part of, reinforce that pride through recognition. Don’t give vouchers when someone does something great – what lasting value does this really have and how does this really make someone feel?

Our founder Obert Tanner once said: “One could say we sell two values: the value of beauty and the value of kindness. The kindness is a company’s willingness to recognize, with dignity, an individual for what he or she has given to that company. After all, giving the productive years of one’s life, the daylight hours of each working day – this is the ultimate that an individual may give to any company.”

The beauty for Kelly was in the ring – the symbol of her journey, her tireless commitment to her vision of becoming a true Olympian. What would inspire you to get out of bed every day? To go to work? To make a difference? We create emotional connections with things we can touch and feel. We remember the moment it was given to us and why. We share stories with colleagues, friends and family. It becomes part of our legacy. Think about the journey your employees go on in your organization and how you can make that journey special and meaningful with amazing memories of human connection along the way.

Thank you Kelly for inspiring us with your story and for reminding me why I work for a great company! (and apologies if I got any of the story wrong!!!!)

You are nothing without your people – how do you let them know?

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My job is to try and connect with people. To create relationships. To find commonalities. To share insights and to help move things forward for the better. This is what motivates me. People. I work for a recognition company. We love saying thank you as individuals and as a company. We believe in it. We work here because we fit within the culture and we live and breathe it every day. Recognition and appreciation for us is easy to quantify and when you get it, it’s obvious.

How do you know that you are the right fit for your company? 86% of people leave in their first year or become actively disengaged. Why? Is this because of false expectations in the interview process? Is it because you started work and realized that it wasn’t what you thought it was? How do you know that you are on track? How do you know you are valued? How do you know that you make a difference? What is great work in your organization and how do you know when you’ve done it? How does your company celebrate success? What opportunities do you have to develop and grow? What does good look like?

The simple act of recognizing people for what they bring to the table can change a person’s day, week, month, year. It says to them – we noticed, we value you and we want to celebrate all that you are. It’s knowing your team well enough to recognize when they’re struggling and being compassionate and caring enough to say ‘go and spend the day with your family’. It’s being clear about what ‘living the values’ really means and taking the time to explain this to people at all levels of your organization. It’s training managers to be consistent and fair in how they give the recognition, supporting them when they need it and giving them the tools to make this is as simple, quick and easy as possible. Recognition shifts the balance of the conversations you are having every day to the positive. We need to do more of it…every day! Simply thanks!

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