It’s Penny Zenker. Your host of Take Charge of Your Productivity. This week we will be talking about progress. Progress is a major component of sustainability. That is the final blade in my productivity windmill. As some of you might already know, I came up with the windmill as a metaphor for human productivity. The windmill has a gear mechanism that works from within, and the smoother and more consistent and faster that the blades turn, the more productive you tend to be.
In taking charge of your productivity, there are three segments or blades that are really critical. They are championship psychology, winning strategies and sustainable results. And without all of these three, your productivity windmill is just underpowered. It turns, but not optimally.
Let’s take a look at progress. First, important is don’t confuse it with measurement. Measurement, when you measure to help yourself get progress and understand patterns of behavior. Progress is about understanding what success looks like so that you know it when you see it. Recognizing the progress is how you build energy and momentum to keep yourself and your team moving forward. In my experience, this the underused muscle for most people. Most people either don’t have the time or even worse, they are not even aware of the progress they are making. Again, progress can be the result of measurement. They are quite different. Progress is about recognizing yourself with what you have accomplished. It centers on staying focused on the results you have achieved and rewarding yourself and others. So keep in mind that moving closer can also occur when an undesirable result occurs, right? No matter the result, if progress is really used properly it will help you to move forward, faster to the result that you want. This aspect of progress is often ignored. In my framework of success, this is one of the steps to master because it’s around creating habits. Several studies have shown that the most effective way to create permanent habits is through positive reinforcement. By creating a positive mentality, you will dramatically your productivity by making achievement habit. Imagine what you can accomplish by completing the tasks you set for yourself became as routine as brushing your teeth in the morning.
This week, Roy Saunderson, an expert in corporate recognition. In today’s program, you will learn the importance of recognizing yourself for your accomplishments. How to progress. How progression will help you stay focused on your results. Roy Saunderson is a leading North American expert on employee recognition. We are so lucky to have him. He is President and founder of the Recognition Management Institute. He has been a speaker for over 20 years. He found the institute to develop and address the difficulty managers have in giving effective recognition to their employees. He has consulted and presented to clients across North America. He has also authored a number of different books. Giving the Real Recognition Way. One hundred and One Ways to give every day Real Recognition and How to Focus on Success. He has also written articles on employee recognition. He is also a columnist for trade magazines. He is currently writing addition books about strategies applying employee recognition the right way. Roy, it is so great to have you hear. Welcome!
R: Thank you so much Penny!
P: You are in such a unique and fascinating field. What inspired you to become an expert in recognition?
R: My background is in healthcare as a speech language pathologist. I found something fascinating when I dealt with individuals who sustained brain injury. The feedback that you gave to a client actually impacted the rate of their progress. For example, the generic phraseology of good job, excellent, makes a difference. What I noticed is when someone is disabled in a language way, their self-esteem is at least ten notches lower than the average person. They don’t believe in themselves and so when you use the right words, like you did a good job, if they don’t believe in themselves, every time you say the word you, they don’t believe it. They discount it. From the research, I noticed that if you use “I talk” phraseology where I would say, I can tell you put a lot of effort into that. I saw you do this. All of a sudden, they have to question that. They say, well I have a relationship with Roy. I trust Roy. He wouldn’t say something I wasn’t doing. So if Roy said I got these two right, even if it was only two out of ten, they believe it. What we saw was the rate of performance success accelerated when we changed the verbiage of how we gave feedback. That was my beginning love affair if you will, the field of recognition.
P: Interesting. I appreciate feedback that gives specifics because then I know it real. If someone just says, job well done sometimes you feel like, oh you are just saying that. It plays into some peoples insecurities. If you say, what you did here, and the way that you did it, and give specifics around it, you follow that with that was really well done. That can go a long way in helping people really recognize their progress.
R: You hit on an important issue that is specificity. There is a two specificity rule that you need to follow when giving feedback and recognition. The first is to acknowledge the very task that was done and I think most people tend to be aware of that. But the second part is also telling the individual how their contribution or performance actually made a difference to you, to a client, a customer, or to the organization at large. We have found that the two part specificity around the phraseology that you use actually links more sincerity, authenticity, people believe it and they know you are not just saying the words. Just going through the motions or doing the flavor of the month kind of activity.
P: One of the ten elements that we talk about is purpose. I think that second element really hits the nail on the head because you are creating every feedback around that person has purpose to the greater, you know, contribution which is one of the key elements to purposes. 1. Acknowledge the task. 2. Provide people with specifics on how it made a difference to you or the customer or the client or the organization. Thank you! This is not just for business but in every area of your life. Relationships can be improved by using these two aspects.
R: You are welcome.
P: Progress and recognition is so important. How do you see recognition as an impact to and the shaping of a culture of an organization?
R: For a long time I used to give presentations on how to create a recognition culture and after doing this for almost 16 years now, I think I have changed my tune. I don’t think you can create a recognition culture. People may say, well can’t you do it. I don’t think so. You can create a culture, yes. But I think the culture is driven by the values and beliefs that come together to create that culture. I think that culture then drives behaviors like recognition giving, not solely. Recognition can then be used to reinforce the culture. Just like you opened up the show talking about reinforcement. That is where recognition plays a vital role in shaping the culture. I am a strong believer now as I have seen many organizations across the world, look at the culture, I think it’s the culture that drives these very activities that we desire in organizations. I don’t believe you can create a recognition culture or performance culture. Its creating the right culture to sustain those very activities that each of us focuses on in our professions.
P: I am wondering if it’s not a little bit of the chicken and the egg syndrome. If you don’t recognize people and behaviors that you want to see continued, then at the end of the day, you aren’t going to build the culture that you are looking to create. What’s the impact if you don’t recognize employees and accomplishments?
R: The argument can be made that way. I am passionate about once you have that vision and purpose, there are a set of behaviors that surround that. To enlarge, to encourage, for those who don’t have the vision and the passion and the purpose instilled within them yet, that is where the recognition will help reinforce that culture.
P: Do you have any tips as to, where to start when they are looking to bring the two together. The recognition and the behavior. Any tips?
R: I think it’s important to realize that you start with your people first and understanding them. Too many times people think about recognition and they jump to programs right away. It’s very important that strategically you look at your people and what their needs are. The grouping of people who want certain recognition. You really have to know your people and what they want. What they desire. What they need. Then you look at the principles of recognition and we talked today about specificity. The personification or personalization of recognition. All of these principles come into play. We need to look at these principles and what we are going to live by. Finally we look at practices. What are the actions that we are going to do that are going to be a way of life for us? They can be very simple. Staring off with greeting people by name. And not grunting at people. Not saying anything. So many times people will say to me that leaders will go by and they don’t even acknowledge them to say hello. If you can’t acknowledge a person, how can you acknowledge their performance? The practices need to be instilled. Finally you might look to some programs if necessary to help managers and employees practice giving better recognition. I look at the people, principles, practices, and programs in that order as a beginning point to start creating the strategy for making recognition an effective tool and a way of doing things within an organization.
P: Thanks. I think it all starts with managers, too. What if the managers fail to recognize themselves, wouldn’t that filter down into how they behave?
R: I love semantics. I would say it’s a leadership issue. Ironically, when we dump on managers. Poor managers, often was an employee who was just very good at a technical task and was promoted to be a manager. He may not be strong in people skills and in being able to give recognition. We have done a disservice to many managers at the leadership level by not giving them the skillsets for giving effective recognition. Poor managers will often say during surveys that they don’t get any recognition either. Why should they give it to their employees if I am not getting it myself? I think you are right. There is a lot of credence to this has to be a holistic strategy. It includes everyone and we do need to start at the top as well as allowing peer to peer recognition. People need to people first and we need to value all of our people.
P: One of the elements I have is around language and communication. It starts with the communication with ourselves. I know so many senior leaders, business owners that have a hard time recognizing their own progress. I also mean not just the peer to peer but I think there needs to be some training also and support for creating that championship psychology in leaders to have that with themselves. Pat themselves on the back. Give them the at a boy at a girl, before you can really embrace giving it to others. What do you feel about that?
R: We coined a term called the Astra effect. Astra is Latin for star. We made an acronym. To appreciate self, to recognize another. You have to appreciate yourself first, in order to recognize someone else. At the beginning of each day it’s important to start with gratitude. Before you even answer any emails before they come in. At the end of the day, it’s important to affirm your own accomplishments. You have to blow your own horn.
P: That is great. It’s time to take a break. This was a great segment, just showing some gratitude. First thing that you can do in the morning to embrace this idea of progress and recognition is to appreciate yourself. Show some gratitude first thing in the morning and before you go to bed.
P: Welcome back we are speaking about the effect of recognition and progress. During the break, I had a light bulb go off. I want to summarize the last segment again. Managers and how they start the recognition process with people. This needs to start with yourself. To show gratitude in the morning and in the evening. What I just connected, Roy said he really believed that living that place of gratitude helps us to live in a place of appreciating ourselves and appreciating that progress and recognition. Do you want to add to that?
R: I think this whole mindfulness of gratitude calms us down. Period. As you start to think and count blessings, act with gratitude, start looking around, pausing. Some of the things we have recommended is to think of someone who has made a difference in your life. We are talking from childhood all the way up. Have you thanked them or sent them a note or a letter? To a neighbor? Or someone who stood out for you. Doesn’t matter who it is, have you told them that? And that act of writing those letters or cards or sending an email, picking up the phone, is powerful because you are really connecting with the difference makers in your life. The difference makers are not just people. I have gone on hikes in the Montana Mountains, and uh, just looking at the beauty around me and I left all my electronic devices back at the office. It was freeing. I think that is where you can start to appreciate all that is going on around you both people wise, relationship wise, difference makers, purpose, and then all of sudden now you don’t miss saying thank you to the person who opened the door to you. Or for that server in a restaurant. And that you turned to look at them and look at them in the face and in the eyes and say thank you rather than being trite with a head nod. I think you then start to appreciate so much more and we have found from our research that gratitude is almost the foundation behind giving authentic recognition.
P: Thanking someone and looking them in the eye, or holding the door or whatever, I think by being in that place of gratitude and acting with gratitude that it helps us to be more present.
R: Yes. I always say, if you are in the room, be in the room. That is that whole presence. You are right on.
P: I spent 16 years in Switzerland and it’s so great learn different cultures and the way that people are present and do different things. One of the things that impressed me and I really like is: let’s say you are at a table with ten people and you are about to make a toast before you take a drink. Everybody takes the time before they drink, all ten people, not just the person across from you to look into the eyes of each person to acknowledge them with the toast. I always thought that was interesting. As I returned to the United States, I see how many times people look away. They don’t look you in the eye, when they are shaking your hand or toasting you in that moment. I believe it’s about being in that gratitude, then you are more present. Then there is a connection.
R: In Switzerland, I did some work there. They have Swiss code. When you translate it into English, some of the difficulties they had was giving recognition was caught up in their culture. The quote was: To not shout loudly, is enough praise. All of us have ethnic cultures that hinder us or enable us to give recognition better than others. In each culture I have been to I would say that all employees have said they want more recognition. But sometimes our own respective ethnic cultures hinder us as some of the barriers for giving what is meaningful to our employees.
P: Every culture, whether it’s a country culture or a corporate culture, or even a family culture, the nature of that recognition is going to be different in different places. For us individually, it might need to be different. It depends on who we are interacting with. Something to keep in mind and to recognize about others what it is that they need for recognition and to be able to give that specificity to them in helping them to appreciate their progress. We are going to shift right now. Let’s talk directly about productivity. It’s an area we are talking about take charge of your productivity. I like to ask every one of my guests this question. How do you define productivity and why?
R: It is an individual matter. Producing whatever output of performance. Someone may look at a manufacturing floor and say wow that man over there helped make one of two complete cars today and they may look at what I do and say, well, gee, that guy is more productive. Does that outweigh my performance? Maybe I discussed some important communication strategies on recognition with a major technology company. My actions may impact over 80,000 people. Those 2 cars may only impact from 2 to 8 people at most. It’s a very individual matter and I guess it is achieving that worthwhile goal or purpose and whatever actions lead to doing that in a given day.
P: It’s also a perspective, right? You talked about the cars, well if those two cars weren’t being produced then perhaps that plant would not exist anymore and therefore affect a lot of other jobs. There is always different ways to look at it. It’s a very individual matter. I agree with you whole heartedly. Based on your experience, what factors and elements do you think have the greatest impact on productivity?
R: Impacting performance or productivity is something companies always asking us. Can recognition really do this or not? They always want that ROI, or proof and we recently gone through some experiments. It’s nice to do some in house experiments. We worked with a financial institution and we did some coaching with some of the managers. We had a control group where some managers did not receive any of the coaching. What we coached them on was about half a dozen behaviors on how to improve recognition giving behaviors. And they already had the more tangible reward online reward programs that many companies have. Our parent company is the provider of that. What we found was those managers who were coached on how to be more specific, one on one and not just a group. Targeting certain behaviors as far as productivity behaviors, as they did this, their rate of improvement truly improved. In one situation, over a ten month period, those managers who received the coaching, their employee output rose by 162 activities on average than those employees in the control groups. We went on to measure their employee engagement. We always know how connected employee engagement is with productivity. We found that of those items that were surveyed, the managers that received this coaching, had a 71% gain on the number of items that improved on the particular engagement survey they used in that company. We have proven that recognition is ironically the driver of productivity behavior. In this case it was sales. We know that recognition alone doesn’t do this. But it is a strong contributing factor in elevating performance.
P: It made me think of energy management. People focus on time and time management. It’s not about time because we can get more done in an hour than we can in 8 hours sometimes. It’s really in my opinion, it’s how much in my experience we bring of ourselves to that time. We talked about presence and it’s how we approach the time and energy and how we manage our energy. Recognition is an energy driver. My four elements that I define are purpose, language, focus and physiology. Recognition affects all four of those areas.
R: I can put recognition alongside each of those four areas.
P: It’s time for us to head into a break.
Welcome back. Today we are joined with Roy Saunderson. We have had some great discussions around progress and recognition. I you are just joining us, go back and listen to the first two segments. Recognition and gratitude’s role in productivity. Especially in creating a presence. Now Roy I would like to talk a bit about negative results. Unfortunately there are results that come up that are results that we are not really happy with. Either as an organization or with ourselves personally. What’s your take on how to handle things from a recognition perspective when things don’t go as planned?
R: I would like to differentiate recognition and giving feedback as a positive thing even when things are not as good as we want them to be. I have 7 factors for why things don’t happen. One is no expectations set. Second, might be no feedback. A very critical piece why things keep going wrong.. Maybe no training or education. No resources. Then we get into the feedback piece which is fascinating. Sometimes we reward people for doing the wrong things. We punish people for doing the right things and we ignore people who do either one. So the feedback piece, when people do something that is not quite right, sometimes we do them a great disservice by not giving them some feedback. But how do we do the feedback? I think we know when we have done something wrong. We know that ugh…I pushed the wrong button, I sent this, I made it wrong. More occasions than not, we know it.
P: So let’s crawl under a rock and ignore it.
R: I think questions are the greatest tools for dealing with negative results. I remember this when my kids were learning to drive. How many times did I almost yell don’t do that!! We were given all of these crazy don’ts and scaring the child to death while you are driving in the passenger’s seat. Instead, I should have said, what do you see ahead? As calmly as possible so they don’t hit the car ahead of them. Asking good questions. What did you see just happen there? Were you aware of anything that could have been done differently? We all make mistakes. Give that calming affirmation. What will you do differently? Do you need help with that? Tons of questions without the condescending negativity of the negative feedback on their performance. Again, when someone truly can say I wasn’t aware of anything, then you can go into instructing and teaching again, no condemning. I think negative results are always going to happen. That is life but we need to learn from them. Hopefully we can learn from our negative mistakes but also we need to guide others to learn and not be condemned for making a mistake.
P: I love the point you talk about with questions. That is one of the key areas that I have in a framework I created called the hierarchy of communication. The questions we ask ourselves, its starts there. Then the questions we ask others. It does have a calming effect. If you ask a question you also transfer the ownership to the person you are asking. As you said, you diffuse any emotion out of it. If you ask the question and it comes from a place of curiosity, then it becomes authentic. You may be more willing to look at a new perspective. What did that person see? How did they interpret that? Questions can transfer ownership to the right people. I love how you talked about your kids and driving.
R: Value the individual.
P: You get better results and you feel better about it. It’s a win win situation. You talked about learning from mistakes. I think what’s interesting is I have been involved with organizations in coaching and consulting, a learning culture is so important that a company recognizes and continues to appreciate and drive the behavior of people to appreciate mistakes because they will happen. If you really learn from it and apply it that is really what can take you to quantum productivity. By applying those learnings you can go from more than a step by step growth and productivity but you can actually take quantum leaps by applying learnings. What is your experience on that?
R: The application of learning is critical and I think recognition needs to be incorporated into every facet of learning. Research on application and success of transfer of learning has been shown that the greatest impact you can have on a learner is what the manager does before the learner goes to the course program, or whatever. So, as you set up the expectations of saying we are recognizing for your contributions, we want you to learn more and we are sending you to this program. That is the first step. Then you sit down with them and explain the objectives of the learning program, and say what is it that you want from the program? Then set the expectation that when they return, we expect you to be able to share somehow with some of the team members what you have learned and gained from this. The act of doing that before they even go to the learning program, is an act of recognition of that individual and setting expectations and reinforcing how learning is going to be an essential part of the organization. When they come back, how about we not give the certificate of completion until they have done that sharing with their peers. We can build recognition at a deeper level around many facets of what we do in our day to day business lives. So when you talk about learning, there is a lot more that we can do with recognition than just the certificate of completion.
P: I love what you just said about pre-framing it before they go to the course and set their goals and then the key to everything is really sharing it. It’s like a circle that goes around positive or negative depending on the results and what we do with them. At the end of the day, to change a charge from the results being negative or what we didn’t want to being positive, the key is in the learning. Steve Lindor my mentor taught me these 4 questions in how to change any result in a positive way. First is to say: What does this mean or what else could this mean? What can we learn from it? How do we apply it? How do we share it?
We are coming close to our time together. Are there any other key things that you wanted to mention around recognition and something I didn’t ask that may be valuable?
R: In our research and in all our consulting and training, we discovered that a lot of people focus recognition on performance. And as I met with many companies, surveys showed that recognition was low. They were all doing recognition. I asked them, is it real recognition? They would ask, what is real recognition? Real recognition is any thought, word or deed towards making someone feel appreciated for who they are and recognized for what they do. We separated out that the companies that were successful and most effective at recognition were not just performance oriented. They acknowledged feelings and emotions. For us, real recognition has as its two x y factors both performance, yes, acknowledging what performance has been done, but you also have to recognize the emotions and feelings of the individual because in many ways that is what drives the purpose driven performance that we all want.
P: Where do people go who want to learn more about you and your services and the books you have written?
R: Rideau.com and visit. You can follow me on Twitter at RoySaundson. And they can also read my blog at Rideau.com/blogs/roy-saunderson. I look forward to connecting with people.
P: We are out of time. I want you to think about how you are recognizing yourself and what time you are taking, gratitude is the basis, to be really grateful and be in that presence so you can recognize yourself and others. Until next week, this is Penny Zenker reminding you to take charge of your time and energy. It’s a choice you can feel good about.