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

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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:

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/14568253.Waitrose_store_s_act_of_kindness_towards_nurse_goes_viral_on_social_media/

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 octanner.com

Thank You!

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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!

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!!!

2-4-6-8 Who do you appreciate?

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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!

Begin with a seed and a story will start growing…a blog for the end of term!

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A story for the end of term…

As I thought about an appropriate gift for my daughters teachers this week, I found myself thinking back to work. I talk about appreciation and the difference it makes in organisations every day but actually it makes a difference everywhere – the same rules apply.

The majority of people want to be valued for what they do, they want to know that you noticed, that you listened, that you appreciate them and that they made a difference to you in some way.

Chloe-Lou, my eldest, is just about to finish reception and we received her first report last week. All I can say is WOW…I’m not just saying WOW because it was a lovely read, which it was…my main WOW was how well her teacher knows our little girl. This wasn’t just a few lines about how well she was reading and writing. This was a heartfelt, genuine account of the last year interjected with stories. It was my little girls wholehearted journey through her first year at school. This was not a rushed report, this was a considered, genuine, well-written account of observations and interactions (interestingly it was also like reading my own performance appraisal but that’s a different story!!!!). It highlighted so many positives and it constructively gave us learnings to work on which were specific and detailed enough so we know how we can support her more. I love that you could tell how much she was cared for through the words that were chosen and the genuine affection that has existed from the minute she walked through the door last September.

Earlier this week, I caught Chloe-Lou’s teacher and I said thank you. I said some of the things I mentioned above to her face and her words back to me were ‘Ooo I’ve got goosebumps’. I only said ‘some of the things’ as I then wrote a thank you card that said all of the above as I wanted her to be able to read it again if she chose to and to keep it and to remember that she is valued by us and by Chloe-Lou and that she has made a massive difference in creating a really positive first experience of school for all of us. I enjoyed doing all of this. It made me feel great. Chloe-Lou wrote a little card too and really it took no time at all. Our gift didn’t cost much, it was a packet of seeds. A packet of seeds that said on a card:

“There was a child who wanted to write
But didn’t know where to start
Begin with a seed, begin with a seed,
Begin with a seed and a story will start growing!”

Appreciation changes everything in all areas of our lives – with ourselves, with our families, with our friends, with the person in our local shop through to the people we work with in our organisations. It’s a powerful and oh so simple thing, don’t forget to use it!