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


Socring big image for blog

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!

Stop letting your job title define who you are…re-frame your role and see the magic happen!



My trip to Salt Lake last week was thought-provoking and inspiring to say the least! A big part of the conference was about our new book ‘Great Work’. If you’ve read the book then you’ll know it’s crammed full of inspirational stories of people out there making a difference in their work lives every day and it explores the characteristics of those people.

What really brought this to life for me though and made me emotionally connect even more was actually watching the videos of those people telling their own stories…I’m going to include a link to one of them in this blog and I strongly recommend grabbing a tissue before you watch it.

What you see from this clip is the perfect example of re-framing your role. Moses did not see himself as just a ‘cleaner’, he saw his role within the hospital’s mission to: offer hope. He saw that he had the ability to make things slightly easier for the families in his care through his thoughtful words and compassion. He took the time to care when others missed this opportunity completely. I believe it’s essential for all of us to spend some time remembering why we do what we do. If in your job you can be yourself, be true to your values and understand your role in the bigger picture of your organisation’s mission and vision then you are likely to be more engaged, reach higher levels of job satisfaction and feel empowered to make a difference in your own unique way every day.

We hear so much about how companies need to drive employee engagement but so much of that power lies in our own hands as employees of companies large and small all over the world. An organisations responsibility is to create cultures that inspire us to discover, encourage us to innovate, empower us to be ourselves and to provide authentic leaders to guide and inspire us along the way. It’s not easy and it can’t happen overnight but surely it’s worth it….what company out there wouldn’t want their people to produce ‘great work’ every day….not just good but ‘great work’. Work that promises to contribute to real bottom line results and most importantly a sense of opportunity and well-being, one of the key drivers of employee engagement.

I did my own re-framing of my role a little while ago and it makes a huge difference in most interactions that I have. My core motivation in life is to make a difference…at work, at home, with my family and friends so I approach as many conversations as I can with this in mind. I may not always have the answers but I will always try my best to create an outcome that makes a difference.

Mindi (from the embedded clip) explains the idea of ‘reframing your role’ really well, “I think it’s the difference between working with your head down and with your head up. You need to look at everything going on around your job so that your eyes are open to possibilities. If you look at how your work affects others, at how relationships work, at what others want and need, you will see things you don’t see when you are just going through the motions’.

If you can do one thing differently today, take a look at your business card and stop letting the title define who you are. Realise that working with your head up will open an array of possibilities that only you can create!

Embrace change and be amazing!



Our values define who we are…

Next week I’ll be flying out to Salt Lake City for our Fall Meetings and we’ve been asked to think about a moment when our lives changed, why we do what we do and how we have become the people we are today. Profound eh? So this has obviously got me thinking about the rollercoaster ride that life is. I genuinely believe things change for the better when we are challenged the most. When the deep rooted values that define us are tested to the point where we have no choice but to be who we are. It’s at this point that we make a choice as to how we are going to deal with it and we embrace it or we run away.

Embracing these type of moments and being true to ourselves, gives us the strength to make the most amazing things happen in our lives. Sometimes it’s just a small mindset change or a choice to respond in a different way but these small changes become the building blocks that create change.

Getting rid of my suitcase of guilt…

As every mother will tell you working or not, motherhood comes with a great suitcase of guilt with it! A few months ago, I would get asked the question ‘How’s work?’ with a sympathetic look from whoever was asking and I’d reply, mirroring the tone with something like ‘It’s OK…’ and I’d walk away feeling rubbish. It took me a while to realize what I was doing and that I was actually fuelling my own guilt.

The stupid thing is that’s not how I felt at all, in fact I LOVE my job. I LOVE using my brain, interacting with people, solving problems, being creative, challenging myself and I want my girls to grow up knowing that work can be tremendously fulfilling especially if you believe in what you do! I look back now and wonder what on earth I was doing!!! So obviously my response now to the same question is completely different. Now I’m super enthusiastic and talk about all the good things! And guess what? I feel much better and hold my head up high. All that changed was me choosing to respond to the exact same question but in a different way.

Engaged employees don’t become engaged overnight…

Mindset change happens gradually through frequency and habit and I often tell this story when in the throes of a conversation around ‘employee engagement’. It is a choice to embrace change and to get your employees to rally behind your company and live your values, you need them to believe ‘why’ you do what you do and connect with them on an emotional level. It’s then that going to work is not just about money, it’s about making a difference every day in your own unique way. Recognition reinforces the message that what your people are doing is VALUED, NOTICED and APPRECIATED and this in turn sends the message home to everyone else that the reason your company exists is to work towards the common goal all your people get out of bed and come to work for every day.

What is perfect anyway…

So next week when I’m asked about a life-changing event, I will be telling my story and I will be feeling proud knowing that I’m not perfect – far from it – but I believe in who I am, I believe in what I do and I feel proud getting out of bed every day hoping that I can make a difference in my own little way.

Bloom where you are planted…be a difference maker!



This phrase really resonated with me this week!

We are always thinking about the next big thing, wondering what we can strive for next to make our lives ‘perfect’ at work and at home (I speak from experience here!) and never really living in the moment to realize the potential we all have…right here, right now!

This week O.C. Tanner launched our latest book ‘Great Work: How to make a difference people love’ and this is a book for everyone, everywhere to realize that we can all make a difference whoever and wherever we are. What an amazingly uplifting and positive view of the world…because it’s true! If every day we embrace the day knowing that we can make it brighter in some way through the conversations we have, the interactions that we share and the good intentions that we uphold then surely our days will be brighter, good things will automatically come our way and we really will have made a positive difference.

Something that really puts a smile on my face is the ‘The art of being greeted by an elephant in your cruise cabin’ video clip (I love that I’ve just included that sentence in my blog!). Take a peek (you’ll need to scroll down on the page) and I promise you will be grabbing a couple of towels and having a go yourself. The point of the clip though is to demonstrate that the origins of this concept came from someone somewhere wanting to put a smile on the face of the person walking into that room…simple but the perfect demonstration of making a difference people love.

My challenge to you today is to put a smile on your face and go and see what great work you can do to make a difference people love…you can bloom where you are planted, right here, right now!

If you don’t ask you don’t get! Understand your team and start appreciating their great work…



If you read my last blog then you’ll know that my dad is a big inspiration to me! One of the things he taught me very early on was ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’…if you think about it, this phrase can be very significant in most situations. In my role, I have to overcome my own insecurities and put myself out there all the time – sending emails, picking up the phone, attending meetings…often with absolutely no idea where the conversation is going to go and if I’m going to be well received or not. Scary! However, the other important message that my dad taught me in order to bring balance was that ‘everyone is human’. It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO of an organisation or a cleaner, every one of us has feelings, needs, strengths and weaknesses…that’s what makes us human in the first place.

At O.C. Tanner, we talk about ‘appreciation changing everything’. And it does, doesn’t it? Someone somewhere once said to me, ‘Dawn your enthusiasm is infectious. You have a great ability to connect with people quickly on an emotional level and people trust you because you wear your heart on your sleeve’. (See how I’ve remembered that too!!!) That for me made me realise that I could make a difference…as long as I believe in something, then I’m in a good place. Look at athletes, musicians, writers, teachers, managers and leaders across the globe…at some point someone has picked up on their strengths, encouraged them, supported them and most importantly given them the faith to go out and do whatever it is they want to do. That is recognition and appreciation in its purest form.

So just imagine as a manager if you combine all of the above and ask your team what motivates them? What their interests are? What they value most in life and what their goals are? (If you don’t ask, you don’t get!). Then remember that ‘everyone is human’..are they a working parent juggling a million things? Have they got insecurities about their own abilities? Are their basic needs being met because only then can they reach their full potential and what are their basic needs?

And then finally throw in ‘appreciation’, of course doing it in a way that is appropriate for that person because you’ll know having asked if they prefer public or one-to-one feedback! Make it sincere, make it specific and make it timely…think about what they’ve done and what difference it made. Did it link to the values of the company? Did it exhibit behaviours you want other people in your team to mirror? Let’s be honest, whoever we are and however we prefer to receive it, we all need a bit of recognition every now and again (actually the research states at least once a week!). Combine these three simple concepts and surely we’re on to a winner!

People who do great work in whatever guise have definitely been appreciated for doing what they do along the way and been encouraged to do more of it…get out there tomorrow, use these simple concepts to change your interactions and find out if ‘appreciation really does change everything’!

Celebrate good times…and careers…come on!



That’s one of my favourite feel good songs of all time! It makes me feel happy and often leads to some very bad but extremely enthusiastic dancing! Today though it’s inspired me to share a story about celebrating careers… 

I’ve had a bit of an epiphany since joining O C Tanner two months ago. My previously held beliefs about long-service awards meant some points in my recognition account given to me via an automated email response some time near the anniversary itself. And that was Ok because I didn’t know any different!

Presentation is everything!

This week I’ve been in Salt Lake City completing my training and I had the privilege of being able to watch one of my lovely colleagues celebrate his 25th career anniversary with the company. It made me cry, it was so moving! Colleagues from across the business including our CEO stood up with him and told stories about his contributions over the years. His family were invited along to watch him receive his award including six gorgeous grandchildren! I looked around the room at people’s faces whilst the presentation took place and it was so powerful seeing the impact on everyone there. There was such warmth in the room! This emotional connection can only get you thinking. That night eating dinner with my colleague (who has also just started with the company) there was a pause in the conversation and he started to look pensive and then said to me, “I know this sounds sentimental, but this is the company I want to retire from’. This was the impact it had on him! For me, I was already thinking about what kind of contribution I could make in the next 25 years…I like to plan!

The best nomination and award ever!

I’ve got my dad as inspiration here though. My dad received the best career achievement award possible…not from the company he worked for although they did nominate him, but from the Queen in the form of an MBE. This is a quotation from his nomination… 

“He is a role model for customer care and always places the requirements of others well above his own interests. No-one else does more than Geoff to engage with the public, the residents groups, and the voluntary sector sports clubs, elected members and officer colleagues. He tackles every problem as solvable and carries a smile in the most difficult times to reflect his general good humour. He wholeheartedly believes in providing a first class public service and deals with people as he would wish to be dealt with himself; in short he is the perfect public servant.”

So I’ve got a very inspirational and rather lovely dad to live up to! Although MBE’s cannot be given out to everyone, you can inspire people by recognising their own individual contributions to your organisations success. At O C Tanner, we talk about career achievement, not long-service awards. Just a little re-positioning makes you think about celebration not survival and that’s powerful stuff!

A question… 

How do you celebrate careers within your organisation?

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



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…


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!!