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

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

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?

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!

How do you nurture the dormant seeds in your organisation?

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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!

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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?

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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