In today’s post, Strong Cincinnati explores what success looks like to different people in the workplace. We answer why celebrating success is important and share a tool for discovering how your employees like to be celebrated.
Imagine your staff member, Amelia, gave a major presentation at your annual board meeting. Your administrative coordinator, John, remembered grant formatting details that made all the difference. You’re working night and day to keep the organization in good shape. What should be done to recognize everyone’s achievements and hard work? Does it even matter if we show appreciation at work?
What does success mean to you?
While not an exact science, it’s widely documented and recognized that what we experience in our youth has a profound impact on our values. Experiences in our youth contribute to our definition of success.
XYZ University, one of the nation’s only firms focused on generational research, employee engagement, and the development of inclusive, inter-generational workplaces, details this generational impact below:
“Baby Boomers were raised in an era of prosperity. They were encouraged to pursue the American Dream, which consisted of a great education or great job and resulted in the title of CEO, the corner office, and a hefty salary with an annual raise.
Generation Xers were raised in an era of social change. They were raised to be self-sufficient, raising themselves amidst skyrocketing divorce rates, two-parent working households, and 30 years of massive layoffs in corporate America. As a result, they strived to find jobs that offered work-life balance, so they didn’t have to sacrifice time spent with loved ones or enjoying life.
Generation Y started out as the most supervised generation in history, shuttled off to playdates and daycare and soccer practices from an early age. They have always been rewarded for participation and not achievement. They have observed or experienced major crises ranging from terrorism, September 11, school shootings, and the worst economic decline in 70 years. As a result, they seek meaningful work.”
Which of these definitions of success at work most resonates with you? Is it finding meaning and purpose in your role? Is it a prestigious title and high salary? Is it work-life balance? Definitions of what it means to be successful change from person to person. More and more often, it includes a personalized blending of these goals.
Why Is Celebrating Success Important?
By taking time to recognize and celebrate when something goes well, a project, a presentation, a life milestone, we can actually train our brains to repeat the actions that got us there. Recognition can provide motivation for the person being appreciated and inspiration for those around them. By acknowledging what your staff accomplishes, even small wins, you help cultivate a strengths-based culture. You’ll also help retainment efforts. 66% of employees say they would quit their current positions if they didn’t feel appreciated enough.
A thriving and innovative workplace doesn’t come into being with no effort. Genuine recognition and appreciation contribute to a positive workplace, and that increases employee engagement and productivity. Think of the definitions of success above. Money and title alone won’t be enough to keep most employees satisfied and productive.
For a recognition program to work, there must be respect for all roles. For example, if Senior Leadership doesn’t respect the skills and contributions of Administrative Coordinators, they will not offer appreciation for the work that goes into that role, which hurts the overall workplace culture. Celebrating successes can be a meaningful way to motivate your people towards their best work.
How Can We Celebrate Success in the Workplace?
According to The Houston Chronicle, successful recognition is:
- Sincerely Given
- Happens Consistently
Do you know a recognition practice that fits all three criteria? If you guessed strength-spotting, you’re correct! Strength-spotting goes beyond a throwaway ‘good job’ into detailing and appreciating specific actions and behaviors. You communicate what, in particular, strength they used for the job/action/task they did and note how that made you feel. Anyone from managers to senior leadership to staff members can use strength-spotting to meaningfully recognize those around them.
Find ways to celebrate that are meaningful to each employee. Everyone wants to be celebrated, but this can show up in different ways since we’re all unique. Some people may want a party, some may want a plaque or trophy, while others might prefer a handwritten note.
At Mayerson Academy, we use a tool called the Strengths Compass, private between employee and manager, to track large and day-to-day goals, share suggestions for improvement, and reflect on past circumstances. There’s also a section dedicated to finding out how that employee prefers to be recognized.
Building Recognition into Your Organizational Policy
Unless appreciation is a feature of your organizational policy and a metric for success, it’s easy to let recognition fall by the wayside. To make your recognition program successful, here are three guidelines.
- Identify and Outline what your employees want from a recogniton program
- Common examples of what employees want from appreciation programs include endorsements, extra time off, career-based rewards (training/professional development), and optional remote work. Monetary rewards are always popular.
- Clearly Define Goals for Recogniton
- These goals could include anything from a certain number of years served, increased customer satisfaction, or perfect attendance for a month to achieving a work target ahead of time, an excellent use of skills, or mastering a project.
- Be Open to Adjustments in the Future
- Rarely is a recognition program a ‘one-and-done’ or ‘set it and forget it’ policy. Be open to employee input in evaluating the policy and improving the system. As an added bonus, this can also help with manager and employee buy-in.
Contact Mayerson Academy for Strengths-Based Organizational Consulting
If you’re looking to transform the culture of your team or organization, we can help! Our experienced team of change-makers and consultants is dedicated to helping you and your staff succeed. Start a conversation with us to ﬁnd out more about the Strengths Compass tool or our Strong Cincinnati Institute, our six-session cohort-based learning experience that helps promote a positive culture shift within organizations. Connect here or call us at 513-263-2210.
- Managing Employee Recognition Programs Toolkit, Society for Human Resource Management, 2022
- How To Create an Employee Rewards and Recognition Policy, HR Daily Advisor, June 2019
- What is an Employee Recognition and Rewards Policy, HR Solution for Growth, 2015