Recognition and appreciation are very nebulous concepts. Right from birth, a child’s primary caregivers are constantly fighting an internal battle on how much praise or affirmation to bestow on their wards so that the child always hovers on the right side of humility rather than take any praise as his/her due. In fact, the word praise by itself is never said out loud – terms like positive reinforcement are more preferred.
And somehow, the corporate world has managed to indoctrinate this particular child-rearing technique into one of those unsaid, but well-ingrained tenets of management. Managers world over are never sure about how much their subordinates must be praised. It seems they are forever battling questions such as – “Will it make him/her complacent?”, “Will the management think am too lenient” or “Can this be construed as favourtism?”
As the manager mulls over these questions, without his/her realizing, a merit worthy act demonstrated by a team member becomes a thing of the past overshadowed by another good act by a different team member. This new act also doesn’t get appreciated because the previous one wasn’t, thereby forming an unwritten law in the team that only path-breaking innovations merit recognition whereas sleepless shifts spent appeasing a client or going the extra mile to close a project are part of the daily grind. And they leave in their wake, clueless managers, disgruntled and oft times confused subordinates, mired in the organizational culture that rewards only the big ticket, path breaking innovations through nominations and multiple stages of approval. No spontaneity there either.
To battle this humdrum state of affairs, we at Maveric Systems, have welcomed Campaign “High-Five” with open arms. We don’t rely on nominations, papers and juries to award someone, our managers are equipped with a loud bell on all our floors and a never-ending supply of coffee mugs, shot glasses, caps, and a number of other wittily captioned gifts that address the day-to-day struggle, endeavor, and contribution of an employee. The message sent across is that one doesn’t have to do something big to be appreciated, even the smallest of actions can be recognized through High-Five. Managers ring the bell at the brightly-lit High-Five corner, call to attention all the occupants of the floor, tell them what a great job the team member has done and hand-out the gift. Value in terms of money is not the differentiator, proximity to the event and impact by making it loud, noticeable and personalized are the true awards.
We are very conscious of the fact that High Five is not a peer recognition program, but rather a manager recognition program and the plans are to keep it that way. A manager has the single largest influence on an employee – he/she has the power to make or break a day or even a career, which is why it is essential that the manager is targeted, and is the initiator.
And the biggest impact that this campaign has created is the increasing willingness of managers to publicly acknowledge and recognize contribution, which is essential in maintaining employee morale. Now they are using this program to recognize and encourage behavior that they want to sustain on the floor. For the associates themselves, High-Five is not designed to ring monetary reward, or improve lifestyle – it is used to improve overall engagement, their sense of accomplishment, and bring to light the achievements of everyday work. The aim is to increase frequency of recognition rather than large scale events done once or twice a year.
So, does this devalue the importance of an award or recognition or affect productivity in any manner? NOT AT ALL. Much like how praise & constant motivation makes a child master riding a bicycle within a matter of days and look forward to hopping onto a motorbike, such unencumbered recognition awarded publicly with a loud, heartfelt citation eggs employees to achieve more and improves the feel-good factor on the work floor.