Giving a lifetime: It’s bigger than a gift card!


dawn blog 3

This blog is prompted by three separate stories I’ve heard over the last month or so and all to do with retirement – stories that have left me sad and wanting more than anything to be able to do something for this generation of our workforce who have given 40+ years to the same organisation.

This is SO important as it is unlikely ever to happen again. The world has moved on and only in rare occasions will we see people staying in the same organisation throughout their whole career. That’s why on the one hand when we talk to HR Directors about re-framing long-service awards, we’re going out there encouraging companies to recognise the earlier milestones. We do this because it creates the opportunity to talk about an individuals’s contribution much earlier on in their career – to communicate that they matter and hopefully instill in them a sense of loyalty and pride even if they do move on somewhere else.

But let’s not forget about those long-servers too…just imagine the amount of change they have experienced in the last 50 years or so – changes so significant that the way that we work has completely evolved and become something that employees in their early 20’s just wouldn’t be able to comprehend.

The first story comes from a financial services company in the city. A colleague had worked their 41 years and in the couple of weeks running up to his retirement he sent out an email to the people he’d worked with in that time to let them know. It was a group email and the responses were over-whelming. The group then rallied together to do something for him. Nothing would have happened if he hadn’t have pro-actively done this himself. After 41 years, he would have walked out not knowing the difference he had made. How would that make you feel? I’ll say it again 41 years!

I saw the next story on Facebook and you can see the write up here:

For those that don’t have the time to read the whole article, the story is similar to the first one. A woman retires from the NHS after 54 years and her local supermarket surprises her with flowers. She gets more recognition from kind-hearted supermarket staff than the organisation she has committed 54 years of her life to. Now I don’t know the facts around this so I’m hoping that it’s not this at all but still. Our people are out there making a difference for us every day and the very least we can do is say thank you. Thank you for your loyalty, thank you for sticking with us through all the changes, for passing on your expertise to new people joining us and for being part of who we are.

The final story came from a recent conversation in the pub. A chap I got into conversation with had retired that day after 52 years and he sat there looking genuinely sad with tears in his eyes. He’d been given some  vouchers as a parting gift but with no final presentation, no gathering of people to say thank you. He was sat in the pub with his friends who had rallied together and bought him a nice bottle of scotch. His exact words were, “I just wanted some reminder of the time I’ve given to ‘x’ company. A watch or something like that, something I can look at and be proud of everything I achieved. Something to show my family, something to show off to my mates in the pub.” We are sentimental creatures us human-beings, we create emotional connections to the organisations we work for despite the highs and lows.

Our founder Obert Tanner once said this:

“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.”

Think about the experience you are creating for those people reaching their retirement. What can you do to make sure their parting feeling is one of pride? What can you do to make sure that they feel part of something truly special and that they walk away on their last day, content that they committed their working life to you!

Find out more about service awards here at

Thank You!



Thank you for coming here every day,

For making a difference in your own special way,

For cheering me up and making me smile,

For always being willing to go the extra mile.

For caring, for sharing, for sometimes saying no,

For challenging me and pushing me, it means more than you know,

For living our values day in and day out,

For living our brand, for having some clout.

For believing and trusting in good times and bad,

For telling me to switch off from my phone and iPad,

For trusting me, encouraging me every step of the way,

And not just on Employee Appreciation Day!

I hope you all have a fabulous day today, make a commitment moving forward to sow appreciation into your daily to do list! It will make an amazing difference…I promise!

Making an impact 2015 – CIPR Inside



Last week I had the great privilege to attend the annual CIPR conference in London. I’ve never attended a previous one so had no pre-conceptions to the day. I did very much like the theme though ‘making an impact’…sounded right up my street and an interesting line up of speakers. I thought it only fair to share some of my key learnings from the day and if you don’t have time to read the rest of what I’ve got to say and you work in Comms and Engagement then get yourselves there next year (and in the meantime get yourself connected with the growing IC community by contacting Jenni Field, Chair of CIPR). It is an inspiring and very lovely bunch of people doing great things in your space and all are so willing to share their experiences good and bad. Do it now! And in the meantime, I’ll tell you more about the day…apologies in advance if I misquote or get any of the facts wrong!!

Opening – Steve Murgatroyd, Vice Chair CIPR Inside

Loved the stories and photos shown of characters like Glen Mills (Usain Bolt’s coach), John Favero (Barack Obama’s speech writer) and Margaret Hamilton (the lady who wrote the code that got the Apollo spaceship to the moon). All names that not many people in the room had heard of, yet people who have however made a huge impact. The correlation was made to people working in Internal Comms. I loved this analogy and thought it was a great way of front running the rest of the content. Internal Comms have the ability to drive and heavily influence change without being front and centre. Maybe there is more of a need to demonstrate the impact you do drive every day!!!

Sarah Pinch, President, CIPR

Inspiring to hear how CIPR are driving the profession forward.How the board are lobbying hard when it comes to diversity, inclusion, ethics and providing on-going support and development for all of those working in your space.

Rachel Miller, All Things IC – The importance of content

Absolutely loved the emotionally charged video shared by Rachel at the beginning of her session. It really demonstrated the power of creating an emotional connection with your audience…and it was about plastic milk bottles!!! Intrigued? Click on the link to the video here:

Here are some of the key points from the presentation:

  • Each individual interprets content in a unique way – we need to find ways to tailor content accordingly
  • The average human attention span is 8 seconds!!! If you want to make an impact, make it fast!
  • The shortest distance between two people is a story! So true…
  • Always think about the Maya Angelou quote: people don’t forget how you made them feel
  • Internal Comms have moved from being content creators to content curators
  • With any content use the RAW framework: Is it real? Is it accurate? Is it right for our organisation?

Tim Rutter, Tata Steel – Offline audience

Tim gave some fascinating insights into the Port Talbot steelworks in Wales and the challenges working with a 5,000 strong employee base that are predominately offline. He made me laugh a lot too! Here are my take-aways and AHA moments:

  • For them a tabloid style newspaper reporting the good, the bad and the ugly drawing on humour and reflecting their values and key areas of focus has helped drive a real cultural shift
  • It has taken 6-7 years to really become embedded
  • The number of lost time incidents has reduced in this period from 4.5 to 0.3 – real measurable results!
  • You have to tailor the content to the majority of your people, don’t fall into the trap of basing decisions on your own likes and preferences
  • It’s ok to be brutally honest if it works in your organisation
  • Sensational headlines make people smile and attract attention. Remember we are all human-beings who like a good laugh ‘Just a little prick!’ 😊
  • It takes dogged determination to keep going with it – stick with it and know that it is making a difference!

Saskia Jones, Oxfam – Engaging remote audiences in conversations with leadership

Saskia talked about the challenges working for a not for profit NGO and engaging remote audiences in conversation across the globe. To put that in context they have 5,000 staff and 30,000 volunteers in 50 countries! From a recent survey it was found that people were feeling increasingly disengaged from Oxford-based leadership. They needed to come up with a way to break down barriers and open up communications on a global basis!

Here are some of the key points from the presentation:

  • They launched a digital platform accessible to all called ‘Ask Me Anything’ with three exec contributors including the Chief Exec
  • People could start discussions and comment on other discussions 24/7
  • Not censoring and genuinely allowing people to ask anything including if the Chief Exec was wearing his lucky pants!
  • The importance of moving from ‘cascade to conversation’ and creating authentic connections with leaders

Sarah Purdie, Clarks – Engaging Video

Sarah brought to life the power of video and it’s growing importance in communications in bringing company stories to life. For Clarks it was to really bring meaning to what being a global brand really looks like and creating a ‘little film that made a big impact!’

  • Leader videos have their place absolutely and they use them, but this was about creating an emotional connection to the brand (190 years old this year! Wow congratulations Clarks!)
  • The importance of including their own people in the video ‘made by Clarks people for Clarks people’
  • In terms of reach, every store has a TV and DVD if not infront of a computer all day so a video was a great choice in reaching all
  • Creating something short and powerful, just over 3 minutes!
  • You could see what a great conversation starter it would be across the business, a great brand awareness tool and a great way of attracting/on-boarding new employees so that they can see what they are becoming part of!
  • The video would not have been enough on its own – needed manager briefing notes on how to talk around it and follow-up so people knew what was in it for them
  • All done on a limited budget using internal resources at Clarks and a locally-based video company to film and edit the footage! Making an impact in practice with amazing feedback and results to show from it!

Stephanie Davies, Laughology

The afternoon started with a bang! This was a fab way to wake us and shake us all up after a rather yummy lunch! Stephanie had us clapping, cheering, banging on tables, standing on chairs and there was definitely lots of laughter in the room!

  • Stephanie talked about the power of laughter and how it changes your neurotransmitters so you are engaged in a different way to normal – I could definitely feel the energy flowing around the room!
  • Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins are all triggered when you laugh!
  • I loved the fact that science can back up how important laughter is and how it can change the way we feel in the workplace
  • Stephanie talked about her happiness research and how the following 5 areas affect our ability to be truly happy : confidence, personal development, positive relationships, support and coping skills
  • What a great thing Stephanie is doing in going out to organisations and schools and reminding them of the importance of laughter with results to show for it too!

Jenni Field, CIPR Inside Chair

Jenni then talked about and encouraged the group to become more involved in the CIPR and to help in recruiting new members. A video was shown on how you can develop your own careers with the CPD courses and you can get points for completing them!!!! Jenni also talked about the regional ‘Ask the Guru’ events…another great way of finding out what’s working in other organisations. One of the main take-always from Jenni as well was from her own experiences working for SSP and the importance of measurement and strategy for the work that you are doing to earn your seat at the table. This is not about the number of campaigns that have been done, it’s showing that behaviours have changed. Measurement shouldn’t be a tick box exercise.

Unfortunately I missed most of John Nielson’s session from Lockheed Martin but the bit I did catch was the positioning at the beginning. John has an external Comms background and a huge amount of experience working for global companies in various parts of the world. He talked passionately about the need for an integrated communications plan (external, internal, stakeholders, government, digital) and the absolute need to partner with business functions and stakeholders when communicating in a large, global organisation. Sorry I can’t do your session more justice John. If anyone would like to fill in the gaps…please do!

Kevin Ruck, PR Academy – Measurement

The next session was all about measurement and I’ve included a couple of photos of the models shown on where to start with this shared by…..

The bit that struck me the most in this session was the Alex Ferguson story and how he took the time to know everyone’s name and always said hello to everyone at the club. The simple act of saying hello helps people feel valued! Start with the basics…no big power points, keep it real!

Sasha Watson, ARM – Measurement in Practice

Sasha had such great energy and brought the topic of measurement to life in a really engaging way. She explained the importance of having research to back up her plan.

  • Started by asking employees ‘what does good look like?’, looked at what had been done in the past and conducted a full Comms audit
  • Used data to drive decisions which worked really well in a company made up of engineers/technically-minded people “It’s not me, it’s the research!”
  • Get lots of feedback and use this to tweak the plan
  • Use data again to look at the effectiveness
  • Have behaviours changed? Just because people have read it, doesn’t mean that their behaviour has changed
  • People bought into the strategy because of the feedback, it earned her a seat at the right tables and even an increased budget!

Janet Morgan, GSK – Strategy in Action

The final presentation by Janet was around ‘turning strategy into action’. At GSK, all Comms sit together and head of sits on leadership team. Huge, global organisation, very complex, highly regulated, 40% of employee base offline. Newspapers won’t work as they operate in a clean environment. 26 languages. Wow!

  • Historically, all internal Comms have sounded like a press release to get past government regulation
  • Internally, when asked about brand reputation, employees felt proud but were unable to say why and articulate it
  • Employees felt a disconnect from the corporate strategy and their work
  • Externally, unsure about what GSK actually do. Like us when they get to know us. Unaware of heritage, products and impact
  • The goal was therefore to increase pride internally and reputation externally – to think, behave and be seen as one company
  • They needed to develop a corporate narrative that was consistent, adaptable and flexible – what would unite all?
  • They succeeded in creating a 7 page narrative that did just this ‘a global healthcare company on a mission’
  • Janet shared great visuals of the website, the video created and how different countries had tailored it to meet their own requirements
  • She explained how popular ‘fill in the blank’ documents are
  • Finally, Janet spoke about how important it is for employees to hear things first rather than through the media

Phew! If you’re still reading this, well done! I know that was a bit of a mammoth download of info but there were such great learnings from the day. I wanted to be able to log this for myself and for others as a reminder or if you couldn’t make it on the day, a way of being to grab a nugget or two and get you thinking about coming to the next one!

For me though, it was really about the strategic role that internal Comms plays in all aspects of business but especially in how you instill that sense of pride and belonging. How you connect people to your companies mission and purpose for being, and help them feel valued and part of something bigger than themselves. I come at the world with my ‘Appreciateologist’ head on and know that without you all then my ambitions when it comes to creating a culture of recognition would be impossible.

Be proud, and thanks again for letting me be part of such a great event!

To find out more about OC Tanner click here.

Not another recognition programme!



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

Doing the right thing…



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!

2-4-6-8 Who do you appreciate?


Yippppeee! It’s Friday! One of my favourite things to do before I leave for the weekend is to stop what I’m doing for half an hour and reflect on the week. I look in my calendar and remind myself what happened, I write a list for Monday so I don’t have to think about work over the weekend and most importantly, I sit and think about the people who have made a difference for me this week. It might be big things, it might be small things but I log into our system and I send a funny e-card, I build an e-button or I nominate them.

I really think about what it was that made a difference and then I write a note to let them know how it demonstrated one of our values and most importantly what it meant to me! I LOVE doing this…it makes me feel great and I know it puts a smile on that persons face for the weekend! It doesn’t matter how you do it, but why not do the same? Stop right now and let people know that they helped made your week great!

Have a lovely weekend!

How do you nurture the dormant seeds in your organisation?


The rather fabulous Kevin Ames from the OC Tanner Institute delivered his ‘Appreciation Experience’ keynote at an event in Leeds a couple of weeks ago. He is such an inspirational speaker and even though I’ve heard him speak several times now, he inspires me with something new every time. He talked about dormant seeds being brought to life with the right nourishment as an analogy of the people working within our organisations. This really resonated with me. How do we create the right nourishment to help people realise their full potential?

1. Plant the right seeds.

Before a person even joins your company, how do you recruit? Do you recruit based on cultural fit and values? When they join, how are they feeling? If I think about my own experience, it would be a mixture oBlog picture 2f nerves, excitement and expectation but we’re all different. We might be petunias, snapdragons or sweet peas. When we join an organisation, it’s not just about making sure we have the right equipment on our desks, it’s about helping people feel part of the team and the organisation right from the word go. It’s helping people understand how they fit. How do you onboard people where you are? How do you make them feel valued in your team? Here’s a link to a great blog that delves into this in more detail.

2. Water your seeds regularly.

Your watering can is filled with the great work that people do in your organisations.Blog picture 1 All you need to remember is to tell people how they’re doing right from the start, to ask for feedback on how you’re doing as an organisation, to let them know that they’re on track, to spotlight when they live one of your values so they do more of it. When somebody recognises us, we blossom, we flourish and we begin ‘sprouting’ those seeds of potential in an environment of trust. Here’s another blog to get you to focus on the simple things to keep your people watered. When we go out to speak to individuals in large organisations, often the reality can be very different to what you might think it is. Water your seeds, regularly!

3. Keep your seeds warm.

For me this is about opportunity and well-being.Blog picture 3 Essentially caring for your people and providing them with the right environment to want to stay and thrive. If we go back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, are our people’s base requirements being met, how do we know because only then can we encourage our people to really start to grow and develop.

4. Move your seeds to natural light when they’ve sprouted.

So you’ve been nurturing the potential in your people, encouraginBlog picture 4g the day-to-day effort, now you can start seeing the fruits of your efforts as they start to produce results. Shine a light on their accomplishments, show them that you noticed and help those other seeds push through the surface by demonstrating and communicating what great looks like!

5. Maintain and watch your plants.

Plants need care just as people do. Care doesn’t have to be the touchy feely stuff, care can just be the simple act of communicating to your team that you have their back. That you will act with honesty and integrity and talk to them in a respectful way about all the great things they are doing and to be open with them about areas for improvement always being specific so that learning can happen. Be consistent, be sincere, be fair in all of your interactions. Get to know your team, read their signs, talk to them, spend the day with them, give them space to think, to absorb, to learn and to grow.

6. Harden off your plants.Blog picture 5

Help your team navigate the challenges of the workplace. Help them to understand who their ‘go to’ people are early on and let them know that your door is open but you are happy for them to go forth and prosper, to make mistakes and to learn. The workplace is an ever-changing landscape. We need to give our people the tools and the skills to create their own paths, their own futures. Appreciation can change the course of someone’s day and it doesn’t have to cost anything. Always remember that you have this powerful skill on the tip of your tongue!

7. Maintain your plants.

Blog picture 6Maintain the morale of your people and use recognition and appreciation to do it! For most of us, the one thing we feel when faced with change, is a degree of self-doubt. These are the weeds that we need to dig out and remind people that they were recruited for a reason, because we believe in them and the potential they have. You might also read this as weeding out the bad eggs in your organization. Remaining positive and true to myself I would argue here that everyone has potential; every person is a dormant seed that can flourish in the right environment. Maybe appreciation could make all the difference if we do it every few days for even the most challenging of people out there even if it’s your boss, maybe see the difference a little positivity and appreciation can make if you send recognition upwards.

So hopefully I’ve given you a little food for thought there on how you could nurture the dormant seeds in your organization and create an environment and a culture where flowers of every shape and size prosper and flourish!

Blog picture 7

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



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!



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.

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 for the image!

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



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!!!!)