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2 Lessons from CEOs: Define Success for All Employees, Then Recognize Them for It

Recognize This! – Give people clear parameters for success then don’t forget to follow-through and praise them when they achieve it.

It’s been several months since I last commented on the wisdom from CEOs featured in the weekly “Corner Office” column in The New York Times.

Make Sure Everyone Understands How You Get Results Is as Important as the Results Themselves

First, clearly establish what success means in your organization. Out of all of your core values and strategic objectives, be sure people are first clear that results only matter within the context of how those results are achieved.

From David Cote, chairman and chief executive of Honeywell:

“We have 12 behaviors that we talk about at Honeywell, but people often ask: What’s the most important one? They’re all important, but I finally said: The first one is you have to get results, and you have to get them the right way. Because I don’t want to just make the numbers this quarter at any cost. I want to make the quarter, but make it with the right kind of disciplines in our processes so that we make the quarter three years from now and five years from now.”

Keep in mind, however, that you can’t just tell people this. You need to reinforce this in how success is rewarded through frequent, timely recognition of only those people who demonstrate the right behaviors in line with your values in the achievement of desired results.

Don’t Forget to Recognize People

Following-through on recognition – and making that praise very specific – is critical. Though you may notice success you see around you, you can only help to foster a culture that encourages ongoing success by praising those who are doing what you need.

From Dwight Merriman, chairman and co-founder of MongoDB:

“I don’t give people enough positive feedback and praise. That’s an example of how I’m not a natural-born, awesome manager. Even though I might be thinking it, I’ll just fail to vocalize it. You get busy and distracted with meetings and running from here to there and it’s hard to stay mindful of things like that. It would probably be a good idea to make a list with no more than five things on a Post-it note and stick it in a wallet.”

Do your employees know what success looks like in your organization? Are they recognized for it? Are you?

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