HR Geeks: Using Losada Lines To Drive High Performing Teams

Today’s popular post of the day on LinkedIn is an uplifting story about executives at LinkedIn thanking staff and staff returning the favor by thanking ‘upward’ – back to the executives.  One point in this post stood out as its something that comes up a lot when we’re discussing employee recognition programs with clients.

What is the right balance of positive praise vs. negative feedback to give an individual in your organization?

The article referred to a mysterious term called the “Losada Ratio“.  We did some digging to find out more…

It turns out, three key researches have done extensive research into the right balance of positive praise and negative or constructive feedback in organizations.  Marcial Losada, Emily Heaphy and Barbara Fredrickson have contributed greatly to the body of research around the positivity ratio around feedback.  Losada’s research found high performing teams have a P/N (Positive to Negative) feedback score of 5.6, medium performing teams are at 1.9 and low performing teams are at 0.36.  What do these numbers mean? Losada’s study indicates that for every one piece of negative feedback that is given to individuals in high performing teams, they receive 6 pieces of positive feedback.

As Mary Poppins famously sang: A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.

Looking at the P/N ratios of high performing teams vs. low performing teams, you might naturally ask, is more positive feedback always better? The answer in Losada’s research is resoundingly No.   Fredrickson and Losada published an upper band of proper ratios as well. Once you get beyond a P/N ratio of 11.6, the quality of the relationship will languish, just like it can languish on the lower end of P/N ratios.  Therefore, Losada and Fredrickson state that there is a band of optimal ratios.

Keep positive-to-negative feedback ratios between 2.9 and 11.6 to allow your teams to flourish.

Too much positive praise and you reduce the impact of it; too little praise and you demotivate your employees.

It is worth noting, there is a lot of criticism around the Losada line hypothesis and way in which the research was conducted.  Key criticism implies the lower and upper levels of the range may be somewhat arbitrary and may be different for each individual.

Regardless of the exact P/N ratio that you use in managing your team for high performance, the research is directionally clear.  Make sure you delivery more positive feedback than negative feedback, and that ratio should likely be in the 3-to-1, 5-to-1 or even higher range depending on the individual that is receiving the feedback.

Engaging employees like it’s 1974

http://www.glasbergen.com/

http://www.glasbergen.com/

Are your managers still sitting down with your employees once a year to review performance and set goals? Many of your employees have grown up in a “Facebook-Twitter-Instagram world” where immediate feedback is available.

Post a picture, get a like. Change your status, get a comment. If you thought social was all about someone, something or somewhere else, you are wrong. We live in a social world and companies who embrace rather than resist social are more successful and have lower levels of employee voluntary turnover.

The social era isn’t about more management responsibility. It’s about making feedback and recognition everyone’s responsibility, making it timely, and based on performance and behavior that align with company goals and mission.  Just showing up to get your five year service pin is a fail for both the business and employee.

 

The 3 Key Forces Behind Motivation

It’s not about money.

In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, best-selling author Dan Pink reveals the 3 key principles that drive motivation  – Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose.  The need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. In a interview with Harvard Business Review, Pink says  ”As for recognition, the diaries revealed that it does indeed motivate workers and lift their moods. So managers should celebrate progress, even the incremental sort”.  HBR adds, “recognition is a form of feedback which is essential to achieving mastery”.

If you have not seen this video by RSA Animate using Pink’s popular TED Talk, you need to.  Pink provides an undeniable case based on extensive research and studies including the work of Mihalyi Czentsmihaly on flow.

Do you work with people who have mastered an area, skill or characteristic?  If so, let them know with a public kudos and acknowledge their mastery and professional reputation on Linkedin and online.

 

How To Motivate: The Research Behind Recognition

What motivates us?

In his popular TED Talk (see the full video below) behavioral economist Dan Ariely recently discussed not only why we work, but what kind of behavior and environments increase productivity and help people thrive in the workplace.

Ariely points out that there are examples all around us that show people are motivated by things beyond a paycheck, crossing a finish line or meeting a goal:

  • Mountain climbers face enormous challenges and setbacks on the way to climbing to the top of the mountain.
  • An employee worked on a project day and night for over 2 weeks when it was cancelled the day before the due date, leaving the worker, who said he felt quite happy while working on the project, feeling depressed when he realized that no one would see his work.

We want to receive recognition for the “fruits of our labor”, says Ariely, and know that our work has meaning. He conducted two experiments to explore this notion.

In a study using Legos, two groups of people were paid to build multiple Lego kits. In one group, the completed pieces would be disassembled at the end of the experiment; in the second, each person saw their first creation taken apart as they built a second.

Outside observers predicted that the first group – where their work had been acknowledged – would build more Lego kits, but thought the difference would be negligible.

  • In fact, the group whose work was valued showed over 63% more productivity compared to the group whose work was disregarded.

This dynamic is at play in the working world. At one company, 200 workers spent two years working on a project that was suddenly shut down. The employees reported feeling depressed and unmotivated and their behavior at work changed. They started:

  • Showing up for work later
  • Leaving work earlier
  • Possibly ‘fudging’ expense report items

When asked what could have made them feel that their work efforts were not wasted and drive employee engagement, they suggested:

  • Internal presentation of the project to the company
  • Analyze what aspects of their project could be incorporated into other aspects of the company

In  Ariely’s “Shredder” experiment, people were asked to complete a written puzzle, and then each paper was placed in one of three groups, where 1) someone looked at it quickly, uttered a quick “Uh-huh” and put it on a pile; 2) no one looked at the paper and it went into in a pile; or 3) the papers went directly into a shredder.

There’s good news and bad news coming out of this “Shredder” study:

  • Ignoring people’s  performance is almost as bad as shredding their effort in front of them, but
  • Minimal recognition can dramatically improve a worker’s motivation

The act of recognition provides acknowledgement and is the best source of motivation .  You don’t have to sit around and wait for this to happen, you can kick start a culture of recognition by starting with a simple thanks to a co-worker.

[ted id=1706]

 

Leveraging People and Profit: The Hard Work of Soft Management

What’s an “Altrupreneur”®?

Bernie Nagle has been a student of “engagement” in the workplace for nearly 40 years, primarily in manufacturing environments, either as an executive or as a consultant.  He is also co-author of the book, Leveraging People and Profit: The Hard Work of Soft Management, where he coined the term “Altrupreneur”.

Leveraging-People-Profit-Altrupreneur3Nagle describes an “altrupreneur” as one who conducts the affairs of an enterprise with conspicuous regard for the welfare of others, builds communities that produce value for all the organization’s stakeholders. This new breed of leader responds to the needs of the organization and the demands of people coming to the workplace and marketplace.  The manager who can balance the people and profit factors has the best chance of succeeding in tomorrow’s corporation.

MeritShare co-founder Travis Pearl first connected with Bernie on Linkedin and recently conducted this interview.

Tell us about yourself?

I have both experienced and observed the phenomenon of engagement as an employee, manager, senior executive, consultant, author, speaker, business owner, and facilitator.  

I started consulting back in 1995, after 22 years in the Food Industry, when the company I worked for was acquired. At that time I was VP Manufacturing for a $2.0 bil. company, responsible for 7 plants  Instead of moving to Europe with the acquiring company, I took the “package” and went to outplacement. It was at that point I decided to begin writing my book and go out on my own.  After consulting and speaking on my own for a period of time, I was recruited by PriceWaterhouse Consulting and I worked for them until I was recruited by one of their clients to lead a global business process improvement initiative in 13 locations in 9 countries.  

Break it down for us Bernie

 My experience has taught me some simple truths about people in the workplace:

  1. The vast majority of people are fundamentally good; they want to do a good job, improve and grow

  2. Everyone is really good at something

  3. The greatest motivator in the workplace is believing at the end of the day that what you did made a positive difference

  4. People and Profit are not mutually exclusive business choices

Enlightened leaders know these truths intuitively and act accordingly, with integrity and respect.

Why did you start your consulting/training company – what is your mission?

My mission was then, and remains today, “Ubertas per Beneficium” (Abundance through Service).  My goal is to establish a covenant mentality of mutual service in the workplace, through whatever means of evangelization is at my disposal.  My most fervent wish is to get back to being able to support myself financially doing this work full-time as an independent operator or as part of a larger training/consulting firm.

Explain the meaning of “Altrupreneur” – how did you establish that term and what does it mean to you?

The word, Altrupreneur ®, is an improbable union of the words, “Altruistic” and “Entrepreneur”. An Altrupreneur ® is a transformational leader who understands a simple, underlying principle of human nature:

“Engagement, trust, loyalty, and followership, are inspired by the leader’s willingness to value and serve ‘the other’.”

I wanted to create a word that communicated a workable middle-ground meld of the attributes that make for a successful entrepreneur, as well as those of a genuine altruist.  These were the traits I had observed in successful manager/leaders who had the ability to truly engage people in the workplace and elicit discretionary effort, innovation and enthusiasm.  These special leaders had keen business sense and a nose for the bottom line, and at the same time, were people of high integrity, uncommon empathy, and genuine concern for the welfare of others.  In other words, they held others in “high regard”; hence the frequent references to the creation of a “high regard” work environment.

If you had to provide three leadership principles around servant leadership, one sentence each, what would they be?

Leadership Principle #1   Leadership exists only through the voluntary gift of follower-ship

Leadership Principle #2   The gift of followership is given for their reasons, not yours

Leadership Principle #3   You can neither know nor engage their reasons unless by your actions you embody a spirit of humility, respect and service for others


Your website states that Altrupreneurs ‘create “virtually free” new sources of Competitive Advantage in a sustainable world, please explain?  

The lack of engagement in the workforce has been demonstrated repeatedly in study after study.  It is no longer an area of speculation, with some studies estimating as high as 70% to 80% of the workforce actively disengaged.  This group falls into the “quit and stayed” category.  It has been my contention, as I stated emphatically in my book nearly 20 years ago, “the greatest waste of assets in all organizations is the untapped creativity and innovative energy of an engaged workforce.”  Your competitors may outspend you in every asset category, but they cannot buy, nor can they match the creativity and innovation of a team of energized workers.  That enthusiasm and innovative energy cannot be forced it cannot be coerced and it cannot be bought…it must be led.  People do things for THEIR reasons, not yours.  The enlightened, servant leader is uniquely able to connect with the workforce where THEY are, with an interest in THEIR needs, and ignite that enthusiasm and innovative energy on behalf of the organization.  This is the next frontier in sustainable competitive advantage.

What are the most important traits, attributes for Enlightened Leadership?

  • Integrity

  • Humility

  • Regard/Respect for others

  • Competence

  • Optimism

  • Communication

  • Enthusiasm

What companies do you admire the most?

There is a company (literally a few miles from where I live) I recently got to know, and had a chance to interview the president, Stuart Watson.  The company is named Truline, and they make bearing housings for super high-tech applications, like aircraft fuel pumps.  Stuart and the company owner have created a Servant Leadership culture as genuine as any I have ever witnessed in the last two decades.  When I was researching my book,  I had the privilege to speak to some of the giants of the Servant Leadership world, like Max DePree, Herb Kelleher and Art Wainwright, and I will tell you this company is no less impressive. 

bernie

We thank Bernie for his time, insights and advice.

If you would like more information on Bernie, please visit his website  Altrupreneur.com

 

The Best Definition of Employee Engagement:

In this first MeritShare article on employee engagement, we start from the beginning and look at how employee engagement is defined.

Wikipedia references the Scarlett Surveys definition and says: “Employee Engagement is a measurable degree of an employee’s positive or negative emotional attachment to their job, colleagues and organization that profoundly influences their willingness to learn and perform is at work”.  This is significantly different than job satisfaction.

However, outside of Wikipedia there are divergent views on how to define employee engagement.  My personal favorite is from Kevin Kruse at Forbes who says:

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.

In order to represent the full spectrum of opinions on how to define employee engagement,  I picked 10 thought-provoking articles.  Let us know your thoughts below and if we missed any you think should be included or if you have your own definition in the comment section below.

1.  Best Definition of Employee Engagement Ever

http://www.knowhr.com5/1/08

JT wrote what I think is the best definition of employee 2engagement ever in the comments on People I’d Like to Hire: When they are there, they are there.

2.  Refining Definitions of Employee Engagement – Sustainability

http://blog.taigacompany.com7/6/12

Our sustainability consulting challenges traditional definitions stakeholder engagement. The Forbes article, What is Employee Engagement breaks many of the traditional views of internal resource effectiveness.

3.  Employee Engagement Definition

http://blog.vovici.com10/26/09

Shuck and Wollard study the evolution of the term “employee engagement” across 140 papers and synthesize a possible consensus definition.

4.  Defining Practical Employee Engagement | RAPIDBI

http://rapidbi.com12/1/11

Defining Practical Employee Engagement The term Employee Engagement has been prolific over the past few years but what does it really mean? How can we use this.

5.  How to define employee engagement in just 6 words

http://blogs.terrapinn.com7/2/12

Employee engagement is more than surveys and assessments – it’s about how team members experience their work environments.

6.  Consultant’s Desk: Terms of Employee Engagement

http://consultantdesk.blogspot.com11/15/12

As a student, I find myself frequently using Google to discover the true definition of these terms, and I have observed many of my classmates using the term “employee engagement” synonymously with employee happiness

7.  All Things Workplace: What, Really, Is Employee Engagement?

http://www.allthingsworkplace.com4/30/09

The definition of Employee Engagement: “a heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work”. That makes

8.  50 Shades of Engagement

http://www.thesocialworkplace.com7/21/12

I know how *I* define employee engagement. But I think you already know that too. So, I asked you — the employee, the average joe, the thought leader, and the social strategist, an eclectic mix of professionals..

 

9. Why Your Employee Engagement Survey Isn’t Paying Off | Switch

http://switchandshift.com11/5/12

One of the biggest issues with employee engagement is that there seems to be as many definitions of engagement as there are people on the planet. In the absence of a standardized definition of engagement, it is absolutely

10.  Workplace Presenteeism Redefined – TalentCulture – World of Work

http://www.talentculture.com1/31/11

In terms of a definition for employee engagement there are many, but I have typically used something close to the following: “An intimate emotional connection that an employee feels for the company they work for that propels

++++++

Don’t forget to let us know what you think below and if you have some time, check out MeritShare and see how you can both measure and improve your employee engagement with peer-based recognition.

Goals + Feedback = Motivation: An Interview with HR & leadership expert Bob Mendonsa

Several weeks ago I read a great blog post titled Steve Jobs on HR: do HR people really suck?  The article was written by HR and Organizational Development expert Bob Mendonsa.   I noticed Bob was located in Bellevue, near MeritShare’s Seattle headquarters so I quickly fired off an email to Bob asking for some time to meet and get this thoughts on the importance of employee engagement and recognition.

So we met for coffee and in one hour I was able to get a lifetime of wisdom and advice from Bob who runs an HR consulting firm and is the former Chief Human Resource Officer at Radia, SVP of Human Resources at Captaris, and VP of the Organizational Change Group at NeoPost.   Bob has done work for a lot of great companies, including T-Mobile, RSA Security, Nextel, Morgan Stanley, Pitney Bowes, Vegas.com, McKesson EFCU, University of Washington, Swedish Medical Center, and the Marriott Foundation

Here are couple of nuggets of HR advice we learned from Bob today:

  • Try to provide recognition that is spontaneous and in the moment, smaller but more frequent interaction is better.
  • Engagement surveys are a laborious process, try to break them down into a more digestible pieces.
  • Employees want to feel like they are making a difference, so explaining your company vision and values are important drivers of engagement and commitment
  • Focus on data-driven approaches to HR solutions

He also had some great one-liners ready-made for Twitter:

Question: Do companies need a business case to justify a recognition program?

Bob’s Response: “Companies that get it make intuitive decisions first, knowing they can get the data later to measure the results”

Question: What are your thoughts on Employee Engagement?

Bob’s Response: “Goals + Feedback = Motivation”

We recognize Bob by awarding him a MeritShare thought leader award and thank him for taking the time to guide us on MeritShare’s mission to give people the recognition they deserve.

You can follow Bob on Twitter @thehrdifference and The HROD Blog.

 

Favorite Tweets From Staffing Management Association Seattle

Team MeritShare recently attended a fantastic day of keynote speakers and panels (we were on one) at the 8th Annual SMA Staffing Symposium.  Topics included best practices, HR technology, and trends and employment and recruiting.  Here are some of our favorite tweets from the conference.  Add any of your favorites in the comment section below:

Hiring managers generally don’t care about candidate source if you hire quality, fast says @vlastelica #smaseattle
— betsybasch (@betsybasch)

@peopleshark : Social media is not just a channel, it’s a conversation tool #smaseattle
— Mark (@ihirepeople)

Feature your employees to build your brand. @peopleshark #smaseattle
— WhitePages TechGirl (@WPTechGrl)

Plug: Employee Motivation That Works

Play an advisor role in your org, help others solve their problems instead of selling them on your solutions. #leadership #smaseattle
— Travis Pearl (@TravisPearl)

 @jer425 if you are on social media and someone reaches out to you–hit the reply button or get out of social media #smaseattle
— Marvin Smith (@talentcommunity)

 RT @betsybasch: Share the good, bad, and ugly with candidates; interviews are 2 way streets says @merturner #smaseattle
— Fresh Consulting (@freshconsulting)

 @knakao @vlastelica loving this session. Nothing like oiled up muscles and #recruiting.
— Heather Nadeau (@heather_nadeau)

@vlastelica Not being afraid to rock your ’87 mullet on the big screen @smaseattle #HowNotToSuck
— Shaundar(@ShaundarNW)

 @vlastelica #smaseattle #hownottosuck ..how many tweets until its off? #betterthanaerobics
— LillianTaylorBlackmo (@LTaylorBlackmon)

 Fixing your candidate experience actually leads to fixing your overall recruiting process. #fact #SMASeattle
— Carmen Hudson (@peopleshark)

 Career agility is a spot on talking point here at #smaseattle. Lots of employers looking at that first.
— Lance Haun (@thelance)

If you are not planning to support a more fluid workforce, you are going to get pummeled by the labor market! #SMASeattle
— Master Burnett (@masterburnett)

 MT @meritshare: Codify your company culture- get individual contributors who embody that culture in a room, let them define it. #smaseattle
— Brett Greene (@BrettGreene)

#smaseattle social panel harmony..@peopleshark @jer425 and I just agreed…
— Kat Drum (@katdrum)

 How to keep a great recruiter?”Make sure to give recruiters career growth” – @merturner #SMASeattle
— Kevin Nakao (@knakao)

 

Getting The Most Out Of Your MBA

Hi, my name is Kevin Nakao and I am the co-founder of MeritShare with Travis Pearl.

Today I had the opportunity to speak to a really great group of MBA students at the University of Utah. Special thanks to Kelly Collins for inviting and hosting me.  Here is part 1 of the notes I prepared for the presentation. I will publish the second topic we discussed, ” working in tech” tomorrow.

I received my MBA from Harvard Business School a while ago , but I can still remember with clarity what really mattered:

Pivot Time
I went from working on sales compensation systems in healthcare to developing marketing campaigns for Puff Daddy and Tom Petty at Universal Music. The time is now to pursue things you have always been interested in. You have both the permission and the opportunity to try new things and make radical career changes.

Some great ways to explore your new career include:

  • Summer internship: I thought I might be interested in consulting, so I spent my summer working for an excellent consulting firm. The people were fantastic, but I really didn’t like being a consultant.
  • Sponsored work project: I was able to work on a project with Paramount Pictures that offered a insiders view of the entertainment business, some good contacts, and paid trips to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of working in the music business. The results of our study were published in The Hollywood Reporter – -providing some credibility in my job search where I had no industry experience.
  • Your colleagues: the best information about what an industry or company can come from the students around you. Since most good MBA programs require work experience, chances are you can find someone who has worked in the industry you are interested in. It’s also a little like taste in food, movies, and music — everyone has their own preferences so it is good to know the person providing the perspective.

Network, Network, Network
Good things come to those who hustle and create their own opportunity. Anyone who tells you they don’t is setting the bar too low for themselves. Yes recruiters may be calling, but you should set your own targets and not have someone else determine your career destiny.

Again, getting to know your fellow MBA’s is critical. It’s the strongest component of my network today.  Some of my most trusted professional contacts came during business school. Make it a goal to meet and have quality interactions with 100 people from your business school program. I was very involved in many business school activities including a business ethics forum started by a friend, the b-school musical, and the volunteer consulting group. My first visit to the land of my ancestors, Japan, was with a group from the business school.

Your instructors are also an important part of your networking resources. The connection between business schools and the private sector is very strong. These are very well-connected people. One of my good friends from business school works in the commerce department for the Obama administration, the results of an introduction from a former professor.

You are investing a lot of money and time over these two years, get the most out of it. The stronger you make your network, the more you enhance the brand of your MBA and your alma mater — which in turn,makes you more valuable.

During my second year of the MBA program, I worked as an intern at the local branch office for Arista records and helped put up posters, monitor music playlists, and basically do anything I was told. During that time, I went to New York and Los Angeles at least once per month to meet people in the music industry. I had completed over 70 informational interviews with various levels of music industry people. This was an excellent education, but also a huge benefit – because an important part of the entertainment industry is who you know. This was critical in landing my dream music industry job (more below)

Build Your Brand Online
As you know, the first thing a potential employer will do is Google your name to find results about you. I do this with every potential business partner or meeting I have with a new person. You need to have more than a Linked in profile because when someone does a search, there is an entire page of results that show up – and you want to make sure that first page of results tells a positive story about who you are. There are a lot of great resources like Mashable that give advice on this topic, but I will give you a couple of quick and easy tips.

Get on Twitter. Both Google and Bing are indexing and paying close attention to these “social signals”. Most content on Facebook, and a lot of the non-resume content on LinkedIn is behind the wall that can’t be reached by Google’s spiders.  Google is also optimized to youtube, so if there is any relevant video content you can post about yourself, this is a good “SEO” tactic.

Building your online brand is one of the benefits of MeritShare, when someone gives you an award or kudos, the results are optimized for Google and Bing Searches.

Sonia Karkenny
Sonia was the executive admin to the Al Teller, the head of Universal Music which owned MCA, Universal, and Motown records. Al worked out of both New York and Los Angeles where Sonia managed his appointments. For a period of 8 months Sonia tried to help get me a meeting with Al in both places. On a trip to LA she asked if I wouldn’t mind waiting in a small office for up to 8 hours to get 15 minutes of Al’s time. She got me the meeting with Al and the first thing he asked is what I had done to research the industry. I started rattling off the names from the +70 informational interviews and the work I had done in my internship. I walked out of the meeting with a job.  In the next couple of years i was promoted to a national sales manager managing a team of 8 reps and became Director of Marketing where I handled the marketing campaigns for a roster of artists. It was a dream job that gave me exposure to every part of the music business and the opportunity to work with artists including Tom Petty & BB King (they were already big), Puff Daddy, Mary j. Blige, and Quentin Tarantino Reservoir Dogs soundtrack.

My key takeaways here are to hustle, be persistent, and know that everyone is important in your career and you never know who will put in the extra effort to make the difference. In my case it was Sonia, and it underscores the importance of my next point:

Be Nice
You represent your school, and yourself.  MBA’s sometime’s get a bad rep. You are spending a lot of money on this degree and you want other people to value the MBA brand. Everyone knows your smart, but are you likable, do they want to work with you?

It is the reason I am here today, last year Kelly brought a group of MBA’s to Seattle that I had the opportunity to meet with and speak to when they came to visit. I was really impressed with the students I met.  Several folks that participated with me remarked how polite and engaged everyone was.  I had some nice Twitter interactions with a couple of the students that visited.

You will achieve great things if you are smart and work hard, but opportunity really opens up if you approach it with kindness and niceness.

On that note, make sure to send a follow-up and thank you note when you interview. It is also an opportunity to bring up a selling point you may have forgotten or stumbled on during your interview. My rule of thumb is that if you want the job send both an email and a hand-written note to the hiring manager. Not many people do this and you will stand out. If you don’t want the job, send an email anyway – chances are good that you may run into the person again. I have actually kept in touch with folks I have met during interviewing that have become valuable colleagues.

That’s it for now, check back tomorrow for a write-up of what it is like to work in the Internets.

You Don’t Win Games Just By Showing Up

According to Bersin and associates, over 87% of companies provide recognition based on years of service, a practice first mandated by unions.  While retention of employees is critical and high turnover is undesirable  – not connecting recognition to performance or company values is a disservice to employees, shareholders, and leaders.  In her research, Bersin analyst Stacia Sherman Gar also shows that service-based awards have little to no impact on turnover, morale, or performance.

A much more effective approach to tenure-based systems is to provide recognition programs based on company values, results, and performance.

Values-based recognition:
Values help define how you want people to work together and make decisions.  Some of Google’s values include: 1) Fast is Better Than Slow 2) Democracy on The Web Works 3) Focus on The User and All Else Will Follow.  It is easy to imagine how Google’s focus on the consumer helped to guide decisions and policies related to advertising and their uncluttered ad-free home page.

A well-selected values should deliver on the strategic imperatives or missions of a company.  One of Zappo’s core values is “Delivering Wow Through Service”, reinforcing a brand promise and competitive differentiator for this successful e-commerce company.

Values-based recognition rewards employees who best demonstrate and exemplify the desired behavior, providing teaching moments for the entire company.   In order to maintain their spirit of entrepreneurialism and ensure their size does not slow them down, Amazon provides a “Just Do It” award quarterly to an employee who provides a shining example of taking initiative and “getting ‘er done”.

Founder-values:
Great companies are also built when there is tight alignment between the founders vision and the values needed to deliver on that mission.  Apple’s relentless focus on building great products and attention to detail is a manifestation of their late founder Steve Jobs.  Founder-based values can be very effective when  you have a leader that embodies those characteristics.

Goal-based recognition:
Goal-based recognition provide awards based on measurable results.  Many sales organizations use these for top performers, providing the award to the individuals who makes the most sales or consistently exceeds targets.  Almost every position can establish this type of recognition program and leverage SMART goals to make sure they are effective and support company priorities.

In other cases, critical company results are accomplished by cross functional teams of engineers, designers, product, and marketing people.  Thus, goal-based recognition can be applied to group or teams.  Apple retail stores constantly monitor and optimize their operations to improve their customer net promoter score (% of customers who would strongly recommend to a friend).

Goals-based recognition can also be used to draw attention to key initiatives that need additional exposure.  Many companies are in industries being disrupted by technology, business models, and global competition.  Print and media companies need to get more digital, digital companies need to go mobile, and mobile companies may need to address new platforms and form factors.   A forward-looking goal-based recognition program can help prepare a company for a very different future.

Although tenure and attendance based recognition is an easier system to manage, the effort to develop values and goal-based recognition will produce better results.  You can still keep a tenure-based system, but put a lot more weight and attention on recognition that reinforces the values and results of employees and teams.  You owe performance-based recognition to your employees, your customers, your board, your investors, and yourself.

Coffee is for closers, awards are for winners.