Once again, I’ve learned from the chief officer featured in the New York Times “Corner Office” column – this time Susan Credle, chief creative officer of Leo Burnett USA, a deservedly famous advertising agency known around the world for their work with leading brands including P&G and TMB Bank.
In the article, Ms. Credle shared her approach to recognizing the good work of employees in the form of an Awards show:
“We do an internal awards show every year, and we set it up like Cannes. We invite every employee to come and vote on the work. This year, they had three days to vote, and we had over 1,000 employees vote. It’s a great experience, because half of our employees didn’t know about everything we do. But then, all of a sudden, once they realized it, they started walking with a little more swagger. I would say to them: ‘You’re a part of it all. Because whether you say something inspiring on the elevator or you’re just nice or you put some positive energy into this office, that’s all helping us make that work.’ …
“The other thing is that we broadened who we recognized for the work. Traditionally, it’s usually the copywriter and the art director, and maybe the creative director, who are recognized. But we recognized everybody on the team, including who does the budgets, who does the financing, and they all get listed.”
While the idea of the awards show itself is quite interesting, there are 3 powerful lessons Ms. Credle teaches in her approach:
- Share the excitement of good work around the organization.
In a company with employees around the world, it’s hard to keep everyone informed about the exciting things happening everywhere. One solution that shares these powerful stories more regularly than an annual event is Social Recognition in which employees readily see the accomplishments and successes of their peers as they are appreciated by colleagues.
- Encourage the “little things” that make work meaningful.
It’s not just the “big wins” that make a company or team successful. It’s the little things like a positive attitude, or an inspired thought shared with others, or perhaps the willingness to give credit to others rather than yourself. Honoring these “little things” is just as important as recognizing the big results.
- Emphasize everyone’s contribution to achieving strategic goals.
I’ve been involved in meetings recently where I’ve been a bit disturbed by the thought that not all employees contribute to the organization’s strategic objectives. I disagree. While an employee’s line of sight to the strategy may not be direct, every employee contributes to achieving those objectives within their role and function. (Otherwise, why would you be paying them?) Acknowledging those who keep the “priority projects” on track by dealing with the details is just as important as recognizing the stars.
Sure, 100% of your employees do not deserve the accolades your top 10% of high performers typically receive. But many in the middle 80% deserve more recognition than they typically receive.
Who gets recognized and appreciated in your organization? The stars? Or all contributors to organization success?