Creating a Recognition Culture

Dear, Anita,

Do you have any new ideas on how our office can celebrate Administrative Professionals Day?Admin_Professional_Day_iStock_000001586762_Small

Dear, No More Flowers,

Administrative Professionals Week® (Wait, what?! There’s a whole week?) is generally celebrated the last full week of April, according to it founder, the International  Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), with Administrative Professionals Day® celebrated on Wednesday of that week – April  22 this year. The commemoration exists to honor admins’ positive contributions to offices around the world.

11 Things You Didn't Know About Employee RecognitionWhile it’s a great idea to set aside a special time to focus on these individuals and perhaps treat them to free lunch, a better modus operandi is to create a recognition culture in your workplace. It not only helps morale, but it impacts the bottom line. How? Increased productivity/better customer service from engaged workers, and lower costs related to turnover, as the infographic from Officevibe shows.

David Novak, author of Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen, tells how he realized recognition needed to be a priority. On a routine visit to canvass salespeople about display and merchandising, everyone raved about an employee named Bob and what a great job he did. This brought Bob to tears because in his 47 years with the company, he never got this kind of positive feedback.

Don’t make your subordinates wait that long for an “Atta Boy.”  We human beings crave a sense of significance and one measure is esteem from others. It’s important to feel important!

Kim Harrison of Cutting Edge PR defines employee recognition as “timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values.”

Formal recognition includes things like:

  • Milestone awards given at annual conventions
  • Employee of the Month

Informal recognition ideas:

  • “Thank You Thursdays”
  • Traveling trophies
  • On-the-spot award gift cards
  • Celebrating birthdays
  • Day-to-day positive interactions with managers and peers

What do employees want? According to Quantum Workplace’s 2014 Recognition Trends Report, 60 percent said a pay increase was an important form of recognition. (Not surprising, but compensation is really different from recognition.) What I found interesting was that #2 on the list was access to new learning/training opportunities, beating out a spontaneous cash bonus or time off. For the third year on the row, a personalized gift like a plaque ranked last. In the spirit of fun, Novak, now CEO of Yum Brands Inc., has given out hundreds of unconventional Rubber Chicken Awards to his KFC employees. The award has morphed into a set of plastic teeth with legs denoting they “walk the talk.” I don’t know about you, but I’d rather get one of these goofy awards than another Lucite dust collector.

Points recognition programs (similar to frequent flyer miles or brand loyalty awards) allow employees to accumulate points for achieving benchmarks (or peers can even grant points for a job well done). The points may be accumulated and redeemed for rewards from a gift catalog. Choose a program carefully, as some catalogs offer off-brand, cheap goods; is that any way to express appreciation to an employee?

Honestly, sometimes the simplest things done regularly can have an amazing effect. A personal thank you note or email after a job well done can do wonders for employee satisfaction.

Need more ammunition to convince higher-ups to create a recognition culture? Blackhawk Engagement Solutions put together 23 Employment Motivation Statistics to Silence Naysayers.

Readers: How does your company appreciate white and pink collar workers on Administrative Professionals Day – or all year long?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Sharing Strategic Leadership

A reader writes…

Dear Anita,

I have been hearing about strategic leadership a lot lately. From what I have read, it seems like a pretty great leadership technique, but I need more information on the topic. What can you tell me about strategic leadership and what it can do for my team?

Thanks for the question. It appears that strategic leadership is one of the new buzz words in business. People are always looking for ways to become better leaders for their company and develop innovative plans to get ahead of the competition. So you want to be a strategic leader, huh? Here are few key points about this type of leadership and what you need to do to make it successful.

Strategic leaders are growth- and goal-oriented. They strive to get the best from their employees. Encouragement, equal Leadershipexpectations, and lead-by-example strategies are what make these leaders the most successful. A sense of equality is rarely seen in large well-established corporations. Employees are more likely to put in the extra effort and go the extra mile if they feel their contributions are being appreciated, recognized, and having an impact on the company and their peers. With this increased input comes a greater level of output in the form of higher productivity. More productive workplaces are much more efficient, cost less to operate, and have an improved rate of return. The increased productivity encourages best practices and streamlined process that are in the best interest of the company as a whole.

Future planning and awareness of the industry are key components to being successful as a strategic leader. You will develop a keen ability to foresee future issues due to growth and expansion. To prepare, additional funding should be invested in educating and providing opportunities for your staff to take responsibility of their future and execute their Leadersrole in the company as changes begin to occur. The employees will learn to act, think, and work in ways that have the best interest of the company in mind. With proper training and skill maintenance, decisions that may have previously needed additional management approval or second opinions can be made in half the time without expelling and wasting additional resources.

Coaching and mentoring  staff is one of the many blocks found in the foundation of strategic leadership. By presenting an inexperienced or new staff member with suggestions and guidance, an entrepreneur can mold and shape this individual into exactly the correct fit for the job. Contrary to managerial leadership, strategic leadership focuses on the potential of the individual and how to best utilize their skills and talents in the long run. The best employees are those who excel in their environment and have a sense of pride in their job.

This video from Carolyn Stevens will help you get more answers to your questions.

I hope this brief overview of strategic leadership gives you a better understanding as to what it is and how you can put it to good use in your office. For fun, take this quiz from CNN Money to see if you “Are a Good Leader?”

Readers: What do you think are your strongest leadership qualities? What types of management styles do you admire most?

Wishing you luck in leadership,



Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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