The theory behind recognition is simple – Saying “thank you” to people helps them feel appreciated and valued. If they feel appreciated and valued, they’ll work hard on doing the things that benefit the team, the business and their customers. So why do businesses rarely recognise their employees enough?
Why Recognise? It’s not rocket science; people need to know they’re doing a good job. Feeling appreciated is a fundamental human need. People respond to appreciation in the form of recognition of their good work because it confirms their work is valued by others. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity increase and they are motivated to maintain or improve their work level.
What this means to Umega – At Umega Lettings we realise how important it is to recognise the hard work and efforts of our amazing team. As a people-business when you show your team that you see and appreciate their efforts, and you take the time to demonstrate how much of a measurable impact they’re having on the business, employees feel good about what they do and want to do more of it! Over the past 12 years, sometimes we’ve got recognition right and other times we’ve made mistakes. Here’s some of the things we’ve learned along the way;
- Build a recognition culture – It’s important that a culture of recognition exists. As crazy as it sounds, people need permission to recognise the efforts of their colleagues and by creating a recognition culture the floodgates can open. It must be in people’s minds to actually see, identify, or realize an opportunity to praise someone. If teams are not in a receptive frame of mind they can easily pass over opportunities to say, ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’. Importantly, recognition shouldn’t be a top-down concept; people throughout the company should feel empowered to give kudos to people at any level in the business. We all need to know we’re doing the right thing and an occasional high-five.
- Recognition in line with our company values – We’re clear about our company values at Umega, what makes us unique, what matters to us and the behaviours that drive our improvement. Every day we talk about being positive, progressive, playful and open with each other and our customers. By acknowledging a person (or team’s) behaviours and efforts above what is expected and in line with the company’s values, we encourage more of the behaviours that help Umega achieve its overall goals.
- Timing – Day to day recognition is so important; bringing immediate and powerful reinforcement of the desired behaviours and setting an example to others in the team. Recognising efforts on the spot ensures that opportunities to say ‘well done’ to people and to reinforce a recognition culture are not missed.
- Make it easy, make it public – It’s important to set up the procedures to allow a recognition culture to flourish allowing immediate recognition in line with company values for everyone to see. The act of doing something to acknowledge and praise people sends an important message to everyone; to the recipient, their team and other employees.
Our Umatter initiative is central to how we recognise each other’s behaviour at Umega. There’s a board on the wall in our Marchmont office, divided into 4 quadrants, each one representing one of our 4 company values. Every time someone wants to recognise a team mate’s behaviour, they send a message round the office on the Umatter Slack channel and they write a wee message on a card (containing the face of the recipient) and pin it to the Umatter board in one of the 4 quadrants (deciding which of our company values the behaviour best represents).
- This is immediate – we don’t need to wait for monthly 121 meetings to say, ‘well done’. Our team have permission to do it right there and then allowing the biggest possible impact on the individual and the wider team via a quick message on the Slack group and a note on the wall.
- It’s public – With messages instantly sent round the whole company and put on the wall for everyone to see, this reminds everyone about the behaviours that we look for and is a constant reminder of how we recognise each other’s brilliant efforts at Umega.
- It reinforces our company values – With each ‘well done’ the team think about the behaviour that the act best represents and we know that if we live and breathe our values every day we’ll make steady progress towards achieving our goals. The Umatter board and the inspiring conversations in the Slack channel are playful in themselves and are very ‘Umega’. If receiving a public ‘well done’ wasn’t enough encouragement, at our monthly company meeting a dart is thrown at the board and whoever’s face it lands on is rewarded with gift vouchers as an added thank you. Last year we hosted the inaugural ‘Umega values awards’ with the 4 winners chosen based on evidence of those individuals exemplifying our values from the Umatter board.
The benefits of getting recognition right are huge; increasing productivity, reinforcing desired behaviours, constantly fuelling performance, building loyalty and trust and ultimately improving employee satisfaction and happiness. There’s still plenty of work to be done at Umega to fully recognise the efforts of our incredible team. We continue to reflect, learn and improve to do better at making our team feel valued, to make Umega an amazing place to work and to smash the negative stereotypes in our industry ?