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

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.

Lost purse leads to amazing customer service!



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!


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!

Alright stop, collaborate and listen!!


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


The importance of balance – taking it one brick at a time!


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!


Dorothys shoes

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.

Success picture

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?


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!

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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?