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

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?

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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Scoring Big with Recognition – an event looking at real companies, real challenges and real people!

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We held a really great event last week at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester around the theme ‘Scoring big with recognition’. I loved it! I loved it because it was everything we had wanted it to be when we first started planning the event. We wanted it to be about real companies, real challenges and real people. The room to me seemed to be brimming with all of these things and that made and continues to make me smile!

Keep it Simple

I think it is very easy for all of us to get caught up with the buzz words, the best strategies for this, that and the other and feel as if we are forever striving for the next best thing. What really resonated for me with both Ryan Cheyne from Pets at Home and Sonia Belfield at Muller is that the best thing you can do is ‘keep things simple’. Ryan made the very true comment…’we never stop feeling proud when we get a medal or get recognized for something we’ve done but something happens once we become grown-ups and we don’t do this anymore’. Why? I think this is a critical question. We all want to feel part of something and we all need to know that we’re doing the right things and we’re on track. We’re quite simple creatures really (I definitely am!) Recognition allows you to say to people…

‘You’re doing ok’, in fact ‘you’re doing better than ok’, ‘keep doing what you’re doing’, ‘we value your contribution’, ‘you make a difference to this team’ and on and on and on! Here’s a footballing quote from David Beckham (he did make an appearance at the event in one of Ryan’s famous quizzes not in person unfortunately!)…    

David Beckham            

This analogy made a lot of sense to me! When a footballer scores a goal or does something great on the pitch, they get recognized for it and the contribution they have made to the success of the team and the club. ‘It’s about the badge on the front’ – they feel proud to represent their clubs just as our people feel proud to work for our companies. When we recognize an individual’s contribution to the success of the company and help them realize that their role is a critical component, then we instill even more pride and increase the engagement and great work that people do every day for our organisations. 

“People may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition” Bob Nelson

Sonia used this quote in her presentation about recognition within Muller and never a truer word has been spoken. People go to work for more than just money – we all want to feel part of something bigger and to feel that we make a difference in our own unique way. It is an organization’s responsibility to create a culture that inspires and empowers people to do this – every day. Both Muller and Pets at Home talk about their journeys. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight and it takes time, effort, lots of convincing and fun along the way! This is what the event was all about – people listening, people learning, people communicating, people trusting and people trying!

Engagement = Great Work = Business Results

Our final presentation at the event was from David Sturt at OC Tanner  talking about ‘Great Work’ and again this really reinforced the ‘people’ message even further. Whereas most research about success in the workplace studies personality traits, this book takes a completely different approach. It studied Great Work itself—under what conditions it happens, and what people are doing when they produce it. We found that virtually anyone, in any position, can innovate in the job they have. You don’t need to wait for the perfect job or the perfect project to come along. You can begin today. There are great work ideas only you will think of. And differences only you can make. David’s whole presentation was brought to life through an array of stories looking at real people in real organisations making a real difference every day! And there are things that we can all do and try today to start our own difference-making journey! Hugely powerful stuff and I loved watching everyone listen to David in the room; I can categorically say everyone was ‘leaning in’!

So as you can tell, I thought it was a fab event and I’m hoping that all who attended thought so too and as an aside, the Etihad Stadium is an amazing events venue especially the ‘Legends Lounge’ so reach out if you want to find out more!

I leave you with this parting message and bringing it back to the event and one very simple reminder that it’s all about…

People – it’s bringing it back to the fact that everything we do affects people and keeping things simple is the best way to engage and inspire the hearts and minds of people the world over!

A smile is the best curve on your body…fact!

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So here goes…my first ever blog and my chosen topic is SMILING! When perusing Facebook the other day, a friend shared a picture with me that said ‘the greatest curve on a woman’s body is her smile’ …and I thought well let’s take that one step further and actually ‘the best curve on anyone’s body..male / female/ young / old…is a big fat heart-felt smile’ and then it got me thinking about how much we smile at work…go on have a think…when was the last time you laughed out loud at work, genuinely smiled at something someone said or felt proud because of a specific moment when somebody said thank you…hopefully you’ve been able to think of lots of individual moments but for a lot of people this isn’t the case and I feel that I’m in the best position I’ve ever been to do something about this epidemic…

BEST 25 BIG COMPANIES TO WORK FOR IN THE UK

A few weeks ago, we organised an amazing event in London looking at the ‘Sunday Times 25 Best Big Companies To Work For’ list as we are very proud to say that in the UK, three of our clients feature in the top five. What was really refreshing though was hearing those clients talk so candidly and honestly (with lots of humour and smiles) about the ‘journey’ they have been on and the setbacks they’ve faced on the way, and it really has taken time, energy and amazing resilience. This is because culture change has to be driven by the leaders of a business, one heart and one mind at a time. It takes leaders who are willing to be honest, accountable and who are willing to earn the trust of their teams which doesn’t happen overnight. When those leaders realise that appreciation and recognition can accelerate this process and reaps actual positive business outcomes, then this is where real success starts to happen. Earning trust is interesting though…I have this theory about the people I trust the most in the world and it all comes back to smiling again. If someone smiles with their eyes, for me it is the biggest sign ever that I can trust them and I find myself automatically doing the same, because smiling is infectious…if a leader can build that trust across an organisation and create a culture of recognition then as our clients have discovered…it can lead to great things so all you leaders out there…get working on smiling with your eyes and make it the best curve on your body!!