I used to work in HR. I liked working in HR. I know most of the people who dedicate their lives to HR are caring individuals trying to help their teams and organizations grow, not the policy-police overlords you read about.
That said, you SHOULD NOT wait on HR to recognize your employees and show that you care. You can do that anytime and anywhere… for FREE!!
So yes, this will be my second post in a few days that deals with employee appreciation. Why? Because literally the day after my conversation with “Shane”, I spoke to another manager (from a different company) about virtually the same topic. As we talked about how he was going to personally recognize and acknowledge his team, he said, “I’ll see what HR has in terms of scratch offs or recognition cards.”
And this is when I said, “Don’t wait for HR.”
Not because they don’t want to help. Not because they can’t help. Not because they are too busy to help. It’s because for the kind of appreciation we’re talking about, you don’t NEED HR.
You need YOUR voice, YOUR eyes, a little of YOUR time and YOUR caring heart. That’s it.
When you see something worthy of recognition, here’s what you do:
- Go up to that person (maintaining 6 feet physical distancing if that is still required) and look them in the eye to show you care and that you’re serious. Don’t look at your phone while doing this. That’s rude.
- Describe what you saw. “I noticed that you waved at every guest as they walked by, and many waved back. Thank you for doing that. It makes them feel welcome and that we want them here. It also makes you more approachable in case they have a question. Rock on with your great guest service!”
And look, that didn’t take very long and you didn’t need a recognition card from HR. Best of all, it was FREE and infinitely repeatable!! If you want to tie your recognition to an official HR program, fine. But you DO NOT have to wait to have that card in your hand to show your appreciation for a job well done.
A MUST READ on appreciation: Infographic “How To” Post 6: Appreciated
Back to our story… what about the caring heart? Oh yeah. The above conversation CAN NOT be delivered nonchalantly. As I stated in that post from 2016, you have to genuinely appreciate your team so your appreciation comes across as genuine. Do you, deep down, really care about your team? Like, for realz, I mean?
If you do, then you know that the power to recognize and appreciate your team does not come from a scratch-off card. And, it’s not the scratch-off card that people appreciate.
When I was at Universal, we had a program called “Winning Moments”. This was a way for team members to recognize each other. There were little cards that you would give to a deserving co-worker with a hand written note about how they had a positive impact on you. That team member would then turn that card in to Team Member Services for the chance to win a prize.
But guess what. Very few people turned in those cards. Can you guess why? Because they were pinned up in their cubicles and lockers as reminders of how someone appreciated them. These were badges of honor, and worth a heck-of-a-lot-more than anything you could get in the drawing.
So, the Winning Moment form was changed. A tab was added at the bottom so people could keep the part with the personal note and turn in the stub with their name on it. Brilliant.
This again should show you that you don’t NEED to wait for HR. People value the MESSAGE over the MECHANISM. And you control the message.
After all this conversation, the manager I was talking to said, “So I just need to get out and look for it. While observing the operation and the guests, I ALSO need to be looking for the great things my employees are doing. Maybe even make it a goal to praise a certain number of people a day.”
YES! (but with a caveat – they have to DESERVE the praise). Don’t be the manager who is praising just to praise with no specificity behind it. That’s not genuine either.
So to sum up…
- You have to appreciate people so you can appreciate people
- Your genuineness is the KEY to great employee appreciation
- You DO NOT have to wait on HR to praise or recognize your team
I am happy to talk to anyone about how to show appreciation for your team. Call or email anytime or if you prefer, grab a spot on my calendar: https://calendly.com/matt-810/30min
Thanks for reading!
Distinguished author, speaker, and industry veteran Matt Heller can sum up what he does in three simple words: Helping Leaders Lead. Matt’s firm, Performance Optimist Consulting, has worked with some of the largest attraction operators in the United States, including Six Flags, Cedar Fair, Universal Studios, Apex Parks Group, and Herschend Family Entertainment, along with countless other parks, zoos, museums, and aquariums. Matt focuses on leadership development, guest service training, eliminating employee burnout, and reducing turnover.