Informal Recognition: A Simple Start to Building a Powerful Culture
The power of informal recognition. We so often forget this. We get caught up in strategy and execution, and we forget how the little things like recognition and rewards, on an informal daily basis, are so vital. At Nurse Next Door we would refer to this as “Love is in the details”. And I have to constantly remind myself to do this.
If you have heard me speak, you have heard my story of how I started our celebration system. It turns out that I am not that good at celebrating. I get so caught up in the pursuit of our goals, that I forget to stop. So I set up a “Core Value Party’ on the last Friday of every month, where we would stop, and celebrate our core values.
The concept was, that leading up to the party, we would all fill out core value ballots, recognizing each other for living our values.
But concept and reality are often two different things. I got to the ballot box in month one, and, of course, there were no ballots. So I wrote five ballots and proceeded to the party, where I read five nice, heartfelt things about our people.
When the next month came, the exact same thing happened. No ballots. So I did the same thing.
Same thing the next month. No ballots in the box. This time I wrote six ballots.
Things changed in the fourth month. There were actually five ballots in the box. So I wrote my own, and we had our little party. And then, a funny thing happened. The ballots started to pile in. By month six, we had so many ballots that we had to buy a bigger box.
Why did this happen? Because people love to be recognized. Its just that they are not used to receiving it, or giving it. So it took some time. But once it started, it snow balled.
Now we have so many ballots that we do it daily. In our daily huddles, we will recognize three or four people for living our values. And we reward the person who has really lived our values the previous day with the famous “Heart Star” (a big pink fuzzy heart that has to be worn for the remainder of the day.) And then you have the honor of awarding it the next day.
This tradition has become one of my favorite parts of our culture at Nurse Next Door. And I know that share that view with many others on our team.
But it doesn’t have to be an elaborate system like this. It can simply be an act of sincerity. Little tokens of kindness. Try this: go write five handwritten cards to people who work with you. And thank them for what they do and how they do it. If you have core values, tie in your company’s core values to it.
I bet getting that card will be the highlight of their day. Maybe even their week.