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How to Assess Your Company Culture in One Easy Step

by Lynette Silva

People First alwaysRecognize This! – How your employees experience recognition and appreciation for daily efforts and results can determine the success of your organization culture.

Is there an easy and quick way to judge the culture of a company and assess potential for future performance? According to David Novak, former CEO of Yum! Brands, yes. Simply look for telltale signs of a culture of recognition and appreciation at work. (Investor and portfolio manager James Dodson’s Parnassus Workplace Fund bears this out. Companies included in the fund are selected based on how well they care for their employees. The fund regularly outperforms the S&P 500 by 4%.)

How do you create a strong culture built on social recognition? Mr. Novak makes these recommendations:

  1. Put people first

“Focus on their capabilities and recognize what they do to satisfy more customers, build more business, make more money and drive results.”

  1. Tie recognition to what matters most for success

“Recognition can be a catalyst for results if it is directly tied to the important goals and objectives of your organization.”

  1. Make recognition frequent and timely

“One of the most important tasks for any leader is…to make people feel appreciated and respected in their daily work.”

  1. Make recognition meaningful and authentic

“The key is to champion recognition every day and make it meaningful and authentic.”

  1. Energize employees through recognition

“An astonishing 82% of employed Americans feel that their supervisors don’t recognize them enough. That lack of recognition takes a toll on morale, productivity, and ultimately, profitability. In fact, 40% of Americans say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.”

This doesn’t mean you can toss off casual, “Hey, thanks. Great job!” comments as you race past a colleague in the hall. Following Mr. Novak’s points above, meaningful recognition makes for a much better understanding of the meaningfulness of work, an important driver of a more human workplace.

HR pro turned consultant Sharlyn Lauby expanded on this in her HR Bartender blog, discussing the need for quality recognition. People want and need acknowledgement of what they did that was deserving of the praise. And it needs to be given sincerely in a way that reflects how the recipient likes to receive recognition. (Please don’t embarrass people.)

Combining the advice, a much better recognition might read:

“Hey, thanks! Great job on the Simpson project. You went above and beyond by taking the time to pull in additional data points I didn’t even know to ask for. That extra detail really helped me out with the client by showing them the ‘proof in the pudding’ of how their own numbers stack up against others on a spectrum of success. Your efforts demonstrated perfectly what we mean when we say ‘Make Customers Happy’ is a core value. Thank you!”

If Mr. Novak walked into your offices, what would his assessment of your company culture likely be?

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