Spring, a re-birth of authenticity and recognition

3 Minutes Read

Out on the roads today I am seeing the first signs of spring.  There are the bulbs coming out of the ground and the bushes are showing some of their fresh buds.   I can also tell it’s spring by the number of sneezing fits I get and the number of allergy meds I have to take.  Still, spring always fills me with hope because it is proof that there will always be rebirth after a long, dead winter. 

Spring is also a time when we can step back and look at our employee recognition and engagement and see what is, and isn’t, working.  When I am talking to senior human resources leaders on behalf of KangoGift, I use the metaphor as a reason for your programs to shake off the winter doldrums and move into a part filled with new life and promise.  This new era is based on three things.  

  •  It’s all about authenticity 
  • It’s about recognition 
  • It’s about your employees 

Let’s talk about this around these three points:  

It's all about authenticity—I hear all the time about concerns about employee dissatisfaction when I’m talking to HR managers and my question is always, “are you being authentic when dealing with your employees?” Of course, the immediate, almost defensive, response is “of course we are!” 

Really? If that’s the case why are your employees heading for the exits despite reports of layoffs?  The fact is that your employees have seen all that you can show them and are immune to what you can do to motivate them.  it’s spring and time for a new authenticity. Authentic communications begins with asking how do the employees want to be reached. 

It’s about recognition—This is something that I am always hearing about from human resources executives, we are great at recognition.  Well, truth be told, you’re not as good as you think.  I have seen recognition devolve in some organizations to become nothing more than another item to do on the checklist of things to do.  

Remember back in 2017 and 2018, seems like a lifetime ago when I was talking about how recognition helps make your employees feel like they are contributing and not just a cog in the machine?  Well, making recognition just another item on the checklist is the opposite of recognition.  Spring presents a perfect opportunity for you to review your recognition programs and make sure that your managers understand it’s not just an item to be done.  

The idea behind recognition is that it is about making employees feel like they are contributing to the organization’s success.  If everyone is getting recognized then, in fact, no one is getting recognized. Put in some controls so that your teams can see what they are doing well and make sure they understand it’s not just a quick to-do.  Recognition is about awarding unique success so use the new spring to ensure that you are doing just that! Recognizing success.  

It’s about your employees—There's been a trend that I’ve noticed when KangoGift is servicing its global customers. We’ve seen a lot of focus on getting this type of small gift or that type for their employees.  I have to keep telling them it’s ABOUT your employees.  You have to start from the bottom and work up! 

Since all of the new flowers are popping out of the ground spring is a perfect time to look at your program, pull out the weeds and put down some fresh fertilizer.  My point is, you already have everything there you just need to let it grow,  

To finish on the spring planting metaphor much like a garden your plants can’t grow without care, the occasional close examination and upkeep, and the occasional weed killer.  Your employees need your help and you need to know they need your care.  So you need to make sure your recognition program provides the ways and means for them to grow.  

Let me wrap this up with three recommendations. 

  • Employees need to be engaged on their terms, not yours 
  • Recognition is about making an employee feel like they are contributing and not a cog in a giant machine.  It’s not about giving them a reward as part of a process.  
  • Your program needs to be allowed to grow but it needs constant care, supervision, and the removal of the occasional weakness of the program. 

Spring is about discarding the old and lifeless and bringing in something new and exciting.  This is what you need to do with your own recognition program. You need to stop it from being routine.  Look for something new and something that will grow into a great and long-lasting program.  

Todd Horton