Taking Recognition to the Next Level – MeritShare is Now Terryberry

Exciting News!  MeritShare is now part of Terryberry!

The new partnership with Terryberry offers MeritShare customers additional benefits, including:

  • Social Employee Recognition Platform, Give a WOW!
  • Plug-in Modules for Service Awards, Performance Points and More
  • Global Support System
  • Local Customer Service
  • Expanded Selection of Employee Recognition Products

Check out the full Press Release.

Terryberry announces the acquisition of MeritShare, an innovative employee recognition software company located in Seattle, WA – to support their objective of expanding their offering of advanced social-media style employee recognition platforms.

(PRWEB) December 2013

Global employee reward and recognition leader Terryberry proudly announces the acquisition of MeritShare of Seattle, a strategic move designed to help Terryberry continue to advance their very successful human resources-based initiatives and product lines that address employee satisfaction and engagement.

MeritShare was founded in July 2012 by entrepreneurs Travis Pearl and Kevin Nakao. MeritShare quickly garnered media attention from publications like VentureBeat, Recruiter.com, and Geekwire for their innovative software platform and mission make employee recognition fun, simple, and social.  New York Times best selling author and Forbes columnist Kevin Kruse named Pearl and Nakao to his list of “101 Top Engagement Experts” in his book “Employee Engagement for Everyone.”   MeritShare was also one of the first companies to come out of the 9Mile Labs enterprise accelerator program started by former Microsoft, HP, Adobe, and Gartner executives.

Terryberry’s acquisition of MeritShare will support their objectives for growth as they continue to lead the industry in social-media style employee recognition platforms.

“In a short amount of time since their launch, MeritShare has succeeded in making strides to advance the concept of social-media style recognition,” explains Mike Byam, Managing Partner at Terryberry.  “MeritShare’s mission of providing recognition in an innovative and fun way really compliments Terryberry’s business.”

“We started MeritShare because recognition is one of the most under-utilized, but powerful tools anyone can use to motivate people,“ says Kevin Nakao, CEO and Co-Founder of MeritShare.   CTO and Co-founder of MeritShare, Travis Pearl adds, “We proved that peer recognition works and we are very happy Terryberry will help MeritShare customers take their recognition program to the next level.”

MeritShare’s customers will have access to upgrade to Terryberry’s highly innovative and robust Give a WOW platform which provides many additional features and benefits like a branded interface, single sign-on, integrated service awards, and more award options.  The acquisition will also provide MeritShare’s customers with access to Terryberry’s comprehensive line of employee recognition programs, global support system, local customer service, and expanded selection of employee recognition products.

“We are pleased to bring MeritShare’s customers into the Terryberry family, and we are excited about how Terryberry’s mission supports the original vision of MeritShare of making work better through effective recognition,” Byam states.

About Terryberry

Terryberry serves more than 25,000 clients throughout North America, Europe and Australia. Family-owned for four generations, Terryberry specializes in employee appreciation and employee recognition gifts, products and services to keep employees engaged and motivated and companies growing in positive directions. For more information, please visit http://www.terryberry.com. 800.253.0882

 

5 Ways to Become an Extraordinary Leader

Boss vs. Leader

Some people are born leaders. They always know the right things to say and what needs to be done to achieve their goals. Naturally influential, they easily attract the respect of their followers and colleagues, able to motivate others to work towards a greater objective. But how do they achieve this? And how can others, especially those just beginning to take on a leadership role, emulate their success?

If you feel that you have been unsuccessful in gaining the respect of your employees, have been failing at motivating them, or just simply could not charm your way out of a paper bag, here are 5 ways you can improve yourself as a leader.

1. Do

Do rather than dictate. Just because you are a CEO, a supervisor, or manager, does not automatically make you a leader. Telling everyone what to do and making demands while you sit behind your desk is less than inspirational. Being active and involved in a project, actually getting your hands dirty, will show your employees that you know what you’re doing and that you care about the project. Rather than micro-managing or attempting to control your employees, be one of them. Work alongside them. Just as with team sports, seeing your team captain out there taking hits and putting his heart in the game will inspire you to play harder. Be an example of what you want them to be.

2. Listen

A lot of the time, following your gut and listening to your instincts can be extremely effective. But other times, what you may think is the best solution might not be. Before you make an important decision, get the opinions of others and open your mind to other ideas. What is pressing them? What works for them? What issues are they seeing that you are not? Not only is listening helpful to getting a better handle on the bigger picture and recognizing the existence of other factors, but it also shows your employees that their input matters to you. It shows that you care, and that you are not just out for your own personal interest. Working as team is important, and you must remember that not only are you leading a team, but you are part of that team.

3. Recognize

One of the best ways to bolster productivity and earn the respect of your employees is by showing that you respect them and appreciate the work they are doing. Effective employee recognition begins with finding meaningful and creative ways to make someone feel like the work they are doing is valuable to the company. You don’t have to be their best friend. Just show that you care. Realize that your employees are people who are trying to earn a living and have everyday struggles just like you do. Say thanks, and mean it.

4. Be Positive & Stay Calm

All too often I have dealt with Debbie Downer managers. People who have taken on so much responsibility that they become nervous wrecks, stressing out over anything and everything and taking out their frustrations on their employees as a result. I understand that work can be intensely consuming and overwhelming. With all the fires that need extinguishing, it is easy to forget about the feelings of others. Take a moment to realize that negativity can quickly permeate a room. If you are expressing yourself in an unpleasant way, others around you will might end up feeling anxious too. They will also be less likely to want to be around you or seek your advice. If you want people to follow you, and want to follow you, make it a positive experience. Don’t stress the little things, make yourself dependable and accessible so that others will give you the support you need. That way, everyone wins.

5. Be Extraordinary

As a leader, you are supposed to stand out. The greatest leaders are not just any Average Joes, but people who appeal to a crowd because they offer a new, exciting perspective that people want to be a part of. They are so passionate that they want others to share in it. They are inspirational because they demonstrate confidence and offer something that’s real. People should feel that, under your guidance, they can accomplish anything they strive to accomplish. And they can, as long as you truly want to share your dreams of success with them. Engage them. If you are extraordinary and allow others to be extraordinary, then extraordinary things will most certainly happen.

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” —Douglas MacArthur

Senior Executives Worst At Giving Recognition

In a recent study conducted by Globoforce and SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) shows  senior executives and human resources scoring the lowest marks for giving recognition.  This confirms our own data that shows that top-down recognition programs need to be reinforced with peer-driven recognition, giving every employee the power of appreciation.

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 5.51.30 AM
The survey was based on 803 HR professional respondents from a randomly selected sample of SHRM’s membership with the title of manager or above and from organizations with 500 or more employees.  The study was conducted March of 2013 and has a margin of error of +/- 3%.

Other key findings include:

  • Nearly half of HR professionals indicated “employee engagement” as the No. 1 HR challenge their organization faces. Other common HR challenges included “succession planning” (39%), “culture management” (35%), and “employee retention/turnover” (33%).
  • An overwhelming number of organizations (94%) believe positive feedback (reinforcing behaviors or performances that should be repeated) has a greater impact on improving employee performance.

Nice work on this Globoforce and SHRM!  Here is the full presentation:

Bear Hugs and Thank You’s: Why Saying ‘Thanks’ Means So Much

bearhug

Here at MeritShare, we strive to help companies motivate their employees by offering a way to give recognition where it is earned. It has been proven that employees who receive thanks and feel that their work is being appreciated will perform better than those who do not receive recognition. This probably does not seem surprising, but I feel that there is more to the story than just a simple act of gratitude, and I would like to explore the psychology behind it.

An article by Jeremy Dean for PsychCentral discusses why giving thanks is not just a nice thing to do for others, but it is also beneficial to the self. Studies show that giving thanks can “improve well-being, physical health, can strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotional states and help us cope with stressful times in our lives”. Personally I feel that this is very true, for I have often experienced what giving and receiving appreciation can do for the heart and mind. When I show gratitude to a friend or loved one, such as buying them flowers or simply telling them how much I love them, I love seeing the biggest smile on their face. Making others happy and making others smile is what makes me smile. It’s like a contagious disease, but a truly wonderful one that I don’t mind being spread all over.

Besides the warm fuzzy feelings it gives us, expressing gratitude can also be beneficial in that people will like you more and be more willing to help you if they believe you appreciate their help. Based on studies published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Dean attributes this to the way receiving thanks boosts self-esteem. In one study, those who received a thank you email after providing feedback were more willing to provide further assistance to that person. What is even more intriguing is that those who received the email were more likely to help someone else out, not just the person who gave them thanks. I find this to be a crucial point that extends even beyond this topic for it is a way we can perpetuate peace and generosity throughout the world. It is clear that gratitude is an extremely powerful emotion that can significantly affect your attitude, which in turn affects others and their attitudes.

It’s kind of like that story: A man goes to work and his boss chews him out, so he goes home and takes out his frustrations on his wife, who yells at her son, who beats the dog. It might be a little extreme, but I don’t think anyone can deny that they have never once taken their anger out on someone who didn’t deserve it when they’ve been having a bad day. It happens. This is why I’m encouraging people to give thanks and practice positivity, because it spreads. If you thank someone and offer kindness, not only will they be more likely to offer it back, but will pay it forward to others. This helps everybody, not just you or one person, but everyone you both come into contact with.

Think about it, and practice giving thanks every day. Tell a coworker how much you appreciate all of the hard work they’ve been doing. Give out hugs (it releases oxytocin!). Say “thank you” to strangers who hold the door open for you. It’s not just having manners, it’s boosting self-esteem and propagating positivity to create a better future for you and for future generations. In a time where we are constantly at war while destroying each other and our earth, it is crucial that we support each other and come together, rather than pushing ourselves even further apart.

Thank you so much for reading, and thank you to Kevin Nakao and Travis Pearl for this learning opportunity and for always encouraging my creative freedom. Cheers!

Employee Recognition: What Employees Want The Most [Infographic]

Once again research shows that what employees want the most is recognition but employers think its about pay. Let’s keep it real simple:

It’s not about the money, it’s about the appreciation.

Mindflash published a great infographic on Visual.ly to illustrate this point. Let’s get to the bottom of this infographic now:

Employee Recognition Incentives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the full picture:

Workplace Incentives

Top 5 Corporate Culture Tips

I’m a big fan of discovering and sharing new ideas at Quora.  I regularly scan discussions from company culture to the most embarrassing moment in your life.  On the question, “What motivates someone to do their best, and how can a manager best motivate his team/employees?” I really appreciate the response from Dustin Finer whose deep experience includes: COO at Myspace, former head of various corporate functions (HR/ADMIN/LEGAL/etc.) at both public and private companies, and a former employment lawyer.   Here is Dustin’s response:

I answered this based on my own experiences.  I limited this answer to strictly morale and not, for instance, how to create or foster a high performing team.  Those are two different topics I believe.  For morale, the top 5 things for me have always been:

1.  People should leave work each day and each week feeling like they accomplished something.  That means making sure you have set clear goals which are clearly communicated.  Everyone on the team should know what the daily, weekly, quarterly or yearly objectives are.  Can you imagine playing a game of basketball without understanding the rules and what the ultimate goal of the game is?  It is very important for managers to make sure their teams understand what a win is at the end of every day.  If you and your team leave work at the end of the day and feel like you achieved a goal (that hopefully feeds into the larger company goals), you tend to feel like you contributed to the greater good and feel more fulfilled.  

2.  The manager should genuinely understand his/her people.   It makes a huge difference as a leader if you know (and genuinely care) about what is going on in your employees’ lives.  I am sure more than a few people will disagree, but from a morale perspective I think it really matters if your boss knows you have to leave early to watch your kid’s game, knows when your birthday is, etc.  It helps a manager better understand what someone may be going through on a given day or week.  It also helps if your employees feel that you genuinely care about their career and them as people. 

3. Show appreciation for when an individual or a team accomplish something important.  My experience is that this means more than compensation, perks and other benefits.  It is extremely important.   [We couldn’t agree more]

4.  Always be honest and straight-forward.  B.S.’ing or sugar coating only engenders mistrust and is not helpful or effective.

5.  As a leader of a team, ultimately the way you behave will be reflected in those that you manage.  So, walk the walk, dont just talk the talk.

Building a Company Culture: Live Your Values

protectculture

With the emergence of the Information Revolution and significant advancements in technology, the 21st century arrived with exciting promises of new opportunities for intellectual as well as professional growth. Unlike previous generations, the wage earners of today, many of them Millennials, are more likely to switch careers rather than stay at one job as more rewarding prospects are presented. So what, then, motivates an employee to remain with a company? What provides more satisfaction than the promise of a fatter paycheck?

Jay Wilkinson, president of Firespring, offers an answer.

In the mid 1990’s, Wilkinson launched a company that developed websites, one of the first to do it at a commercial level since the invention of the Internet. Along with a few friends, he started from the bottom and climbed his way to the top, eventually receiving money that allowed him to improve the company and expand into ten more cities around the country. Unfortunately, as tensions arose from infighting and as the economy “tanked” after 9/11, Wilkinson was removed as CEO of his own company. After years of planning and “lean[ing] very very heavy” on the people in the company, he eventually regained control of the company. Now the company has upwards of 70 employees, 3,000 customers in 12 countries, and was named one of 2011 Inc. Magazine’s top 50 Small Company Workplaces. Wilkinson attributes all of this success and the company’s redemption to the way they have built their Company Culture.

What is a Company Culture, and why is it so important to the people working a company? A culture is defined as a set of values and principles shared by members of the group. Some companies have generic values, while others seek to exercise values that coincide with the interests of their employees. People like to be involved, to be recognized, and to feel that the work they are doing is worthwhile. Just offering free coffee and snacks is not enough to make someone feel appreciated. Employees like to feel like they are part of family, all striving towards unity in a goal that benefits everyone.

At Firespring, there are 3 steps they use to “design a sustainable company culture”.

  1. Define your values- Instead of coming up with a predictable list of values, think of values that really resonate with your employees. Get them involved and see what inspires them.
  2. Hire your values- You don’t want just anybody working for your company. You want the people who are passionate about the same values because it adds to the unity of the workplace; everyone working towards one goal. It is more beneficial to a company to hire someone who shares the same mindset as the rest of the crew rather than someone who just has a lot of skills. As Wilkinson says, “Don’t hire the haters”.
  3. Live your values- “Create fellowship” among staff. Show employee and peer recognition. Offer an environment for your employees to grow, work hard, and learn while also providing a fun culture. Being serious all the time was never fun for anyone.

It is evident from Wilkinson’s presentation that Firespring has become a tight-knit community of people who love what they do and love the people they work with because of the culture they have created. They work together, learn together, and have fun together. If you are a company struggling to compete in today’s fast-paced society, it is important to remember that it’s the people, the cogs in the machine, who make a company great.

Employee Engagement in North America Declines

According to a new study by AON, the economy in North America is improving while employee engagement levels in North America have declined to the lowest levels since 2008.  At the same time, the worldwide engagement showed modest improvement.

Worldwide Employee Engagement Trends

Worldwide Employee Engagement Trends

Aon Hewitt’s Global Engagement Report, which analyzed employee engagement trends of more than 2,500 global organizations representing 3.8 million employees, found that employee engagement in North America decreased by one percentage point to 63 per cent in 2012.  What can employers do about this disturbing trend?  MeritShare co-founder Travis Pearl shares this timely piece in today’s HR Buddy article: “5 Easy Way To Recognize Employees”.

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]