Monthly Archives: April 2007

Employee Recognition – Practicing what we preach

We recently recognized one of our own showroom managers with our “MVP” award which was a plaque, simply engraved, stating…

… the outstanding accomplishments in sales for the past year and for the leadership of the turnaround of our leading location. This turnaround included a dramatic increase in the recipient’s personal sales, which was over 50%. The award was presented among his peers, by our sales manager, at a holiday luncheon. The recipient received the award in the middle of a local restaurant to the chants of “MVP, MVP, MVP” from all in attendance. It was an emotional moment. It represented recognition for all the hard work put in to achieve the recognized accomplishment.
I was personally reminded of the importance of what we do in providing recognition while I sat there observing the sincere reaction. I was reminded again the following day when I was shown a hand written card, with stickman figures drawn with “Dad” pictured in work and “Mommy”, Daniel” and “Me” pictured at home, depicting our MVP’s family. The stick figures had the words “Yeah” coming from their mouths. The card said “Good Job Daddy, Love Kelly”. The card was given to the recipient of the MVP award (Dad) by his 7 year old daughter (Kelly) showing Mommy and her younger brother Daniel cheering their Dad from home as Dad holds up the plaque won at work.

The power of recognizing employees is one of the best kept secrets in management today. Sincerity in doing so is the key that opens the door to this secret.


Everyday Greatness: Beck Weathers

The incredible story of Beck Weathers’ survival has all the elements of a great adventure: heroism, bravery, a successful human struggle against the forces of nature, the surmounting of great physical and psychological challenges, and a triumph of the human spirit. He has come back from his ordeal to speak about his experience, and to enlighten us with the invaluable lessons he learned.

I was fortunate to have the rare opportunity to hear from someone last night at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia who has faced his own death—and lived to tell about it. Mr. Weathers took us to that fateful day on Mt. Everest with stunning emotional detail. He took us through the events that brought him to that dark day that enlightened his life forever. He worked out over three hours a day to train to be able to travel to and climb the highest mountains on each continent, saving Everest for last, where he was left for dead.

Weathers made it home alive. Both his hands and nose were amputated, replaced with a prosthetic or reconstructed, but Weathers rediscovered the joy of living with a family he had almost lost. Before the Everest tragedy, Peach Weathers had been on the verge of divorcing her husband. “The relentless pursuit of success and goals and ambition had dragged out of life what was most precious,” he explained. “I traded my hands and my face for my family and I accept that bargain. In the end, all that matters is the people you hold in your heart and those who hold you in theirs.” As he ended the evening, with not a sound to be heard from the captivated audience, except the silent whimpering of emotion of the night, Beck let us in on the secret that he learned on that mountain. He said that he had “traveled the world looking for that something that would fulfill him, when the whole time it was there the whole time – at home, with his family, friends and loved ones.” Wow! I get goose bumps writing this. Everyday Greatness? Yeah, I think so. As he said this, I fought back tears and the mental picture from my youth came to my mind of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz clicking her heals saying “there is no place like home, there is no place like home…”

On the night of May 10, 1996, a violent storm swept over Mt. Everest, buffeting the more than 30 adventurers who were descending from the mountain’s summit with heavy snow, subzero cold, and hurricane-force winds. Within 24 hours, eight of the climbers, including three professional guides, were dead. It would become the deadliest day in the history of expeditions on the world’s highest mountain. Among the climbers severely injured by the spring storm was Dr. Seaborn Beck Weathers, a 49-year-old amateur climber who, lying unconscious and exposed on the mountain’s icy rocks, had been left for dead three hundred yards from his camp. His wife and family were notified of his death.

Miraculously, Weathers awoke the morning after the storm to find himself alive, but barely. His hands were severely frostbitten; he had no feeling left in his feet; his vision was so impaired that he could see only three or four feet in front of him. But in his mind’s eye, he could see his wife and children back home in Dallas, Texas. “I was lying on my back in the ice. It was colder than anything you can believe,” he says. “I figured I had three or four hours left to live, so I started walking. All I knew was, as long as my legs would run, and I could stand up, I was going to move toward that camp, and if I fell down, I was going to get up. And if I fell down again, I was going to get up, and I was going to keep moving until I either hit that camp, I couldn’t get up at all, or I walked off the face of that mountain.”

When he reached his camp, his astonished fellow climbers cut the frozen clothes from his body and warmed him with a hot water bottle. When they all reached the fourth camp from the summit two days later, Weathers was too ill to descend over the Khumbu Icefall, an enormous glacier of mile-deep crevasses and 12-story-high ice blocks. Beneath the Icefall lay the base camp, where he could be moved to safety.


After hearing of her husband’s amazing survival, Peach Weathers arranged for a helicopter to rescue him. Helicopters can lose the ability to lift at heights above 20,000 feet, and no one had ever dared to fly one above the Icefall before. In an extraordinary act of heroism, Lieutenant Colonel Madan Khatri Chhetri of the Nepalese army flew his helicopter up 22,000 feet to where Weathers lay. At Weathers’ insistence, a Taiwanese climber who was in worse condition than him was flown out first. It was the second-highest helicopter rescue in history.

Dr. Weathers, an accomplished pathologist, lost his right hand and part of his left hand to frostbite. But though he lost his hands, he has never lost his hope. He has shown incredible courage throughout his ordeal, and his positive attitude has inspired many.

Born in Griffin, Georgia, in 1946, Dr. Weathers received his B.S. in mathematics and chemistry from Midwestern University in 1968. He received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Southwestern Medical School in 1972, and completed a pathology internship. His other professional experiences include a 1976-77 teaching appointment at Harvard Medical School. He has been a partner in MCD Pathology, LLP, and has served at Medical City Dallas Hospital and LabCorp as co-medical director since 1977. In May 2000, Villard Books published Dr. Weathers’ personal account of his experiences on Mt. Everest, Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest. In 2001, he was honored by Toastmasters International as one of the “Top Five Speakers of 2001”.

Recognition: Info & Fun Facts – History of the word “Trophy”

In doing research for this blog of recognizing everyday greatness, I thought I’d start at the beginning. How did the trophy, the item used to recognize and commemorate greatness, get started? Where did it originate? What is the formal definition? So I searched the web for the answer. Following is what I found….

20070415-trophyLa Turbie

the word trophy (from Greek tropaion, from trope, “rout”), in ancient Greece, consisted of captured arms and standards hung upon a tree or stake in the semblance of a man and was inscribed with details of the battle along with a dedication to a god or gods. After a naval victory, the trophy, composed of whole ships or their beaks, was laid out on the nearest beach. To destroy a trophy was regarded as a sacrilege since, as an object dedicated to a god, it must be left to decay naturally. The Romans continued the custom but usually preferred to construct trophies in Rome, with columns or triumphal arches serving the purpose in imperial times. Outside Rome, there are remains of huge stone memorials, once crowned by stone trophies, built by Augustus in 7/6 BC at La Turbie,near Nice, France (pictured above – a rather large “trophy”?) and by Trajan c. AD 109 at Adamclisi in eastern Romania.

.. the online Etymology (history of words) dictionary says that 1513 was the first recording of the word “trophy” as “a spoil or prize of war,” from French trophée (15c.) from Latin trophæum “a sign of victory, monument,” originally tropæum, from Greek tropaion “monument of an enemy’s defeat,” from neut. of adj. tropaios “of defeat,” from trope “a rout,” originally “a turning” (of the enemy); see trope. Figurative extension to any token or memorial of victory is first recorded 1569. A fun fact is that the expression “Trophy wife” was first recorded in 1984.

… Encylopedia Britannica online defines the word trophy (from Greek tropaion, from trope, “rout”), in ancient Greece, memorial of victory set up on the field of battle at the spot where the enemy had been routed.

… As defined by Princeton University the definition of the word “Trophy” was an award for success in war or hunting; something given as a token of victory.

… from its Roman glossary says, the arms of a vanquished enemy, attached to a vertical shaft with cross piece, set up to commemorate a notable victory and often appearing on coins with captives at its foot.

…’s definition is;

  1. anything taken in war, hunting, competition, etc., esp. when preserved as a memento; spoil, prize, or award;
  2. anything serving as a token or evidence of victory, valor, skill, etc.
  3. a carving, painting, or other representation of objects associated with or symbolic of victory or achievement.
  4.  any memento or memorial. 
  5.  a memorial erected by certain ancient peoples, esp. the Greeks and Romans, in commemoration of a victory in war and consisting of arms or other spoils taken from the enemy and hung upon a tree, pillar, or the like.

 … wikipedia, the free on-line encyclopedia, states a trophy is a reward for a specific accomplishment. They are most often awarded with sporting events. These range from youth sports through professional level athletics. Often, the reward of the trophy is not simply in winning it; rather, those who win it cherish the legacy that also comes with the trophy.

In looking for the history of the word “Trophy” I found the following in the following languages…

…from Greek the word was tropaion, from neuter of tropaios, of defeat, from tropē, a turning, rout

…from Latin the word was trophaeum, monument to victory, variant of tropaeum

…from Old French the word was trophee, and in French trophée

The noun “trophy”, defined by Kernerman English Multilingural Dictionary, is something which is kept in memory of a victory, success etc… in other languages the word “Trophy” looks like this:

…Arabic: غَنيمَه، نُصُب تِذْكاري…
Chinese (Simplified): 胜利纪念品…
Chinese (Traditional)… 勝利紀念品…
Czech: trofej…
Danish: trofæ…
Dutch: trofee…
Estonian: trofee…
Finnish: voitonmerkki…
French: trophée…
German: die Trophäe…
Greek: τρόπαιο…
Hungarian: trófea…
Icelandic: minnisvarði um sigur, minjagripur…
Italian: trofeo…
Japanese: 記念品…
Lithuanian: trofėjus…
Polish: trofeum…
Portuguese (Brazil): troféu…
Portuguese (Portugal): troféu…
Romanian: trofeu…
Russian: трофей…
Slovak: trofej…
Spanish: trofeo…
Swedish: trofé…
Turkish: yadigâr, hatıra.

In any language a trophy recognizes the everyday greatness that surrounds us.

Everyday Greatness: Jackie Robinson

Today is a celebration of recognizing everyday greatness with the 60th anniversary of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, the first black baseball player to play in the American major leagues during the 20th century. On April 15, 1947, Robinson broke the decades-old color barrier of Major League Baseball when he appeared on the field for the National League Brooklyn Dodgers. He played as an infielder and outfielder for the Dodgers from 1947 through 1956, under extremely difficult and challenging circumstances and prevailed with class, integrity, and determination.

Fans hurled bottles and invectives at him. Some Dodger teammates openly protested against having to play with an African American, while players on opposing teams deliberately pitched balls at Robinson’s head and spiked him with their shoes in deliberately rough slides into bases. Not everyone in baseball was unsupportive of Robinson. When players on the St. Louis Cardinals team threatened to strike if Robinson took the field, commissioner Ford Frick quashed the strike, countering that any player who did so would be suspended from baseball. Dodger captain Pee Wee Reese left his position on the field and put an arm around Robinson in a show of solidarity when fan heckling became intolerable, and the two men became lifelong friends. However, with the ugly remarks, death threats, and Jim Crow laws that forbade a black player to stay in hotels or eat in restaurants with the rest of his team, Robinson’s groundbreaking experience in the major leagues was bleak. Of this period Robinson later stated, “Plenty of times I wanted to haul off when somebody insulted me for the color of my skin, but I had to hold to myself. I knew I was kind of an experiment. The whole thing was bigger than me.” His career in baseball was stellar. His lifetime batting average was .311, and he led the Dodgers to six league championships and one World Series victory.


Reared in Pasadena, California, Robinson became an outstanding all-around athlete at Pasadena Junior College and UCLA. He excelled in football, basketball, and track as well as baseball. Robinson withdrew from UCLA in his third year to help his mother care for the family. In 1942 he entered the U.S. Army and attended officer candidate school; he was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1943. Robinson faced court-martial in 1944 for refusing to follow an order that he sit at the back of a military bus. The charges against Robinson were dismissed, and he received an honorable discharge from the military. The incident, however, presaged Robinson’s future activism and commitment to civil rights. Upon leaving the army, he played professional football in Hawaii and baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League, where he drew the attention of the president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey.

Rickey had been planning an attempt to integrate baseball and was looking for the right candidate. Robinson’s skills on the field, his integrity, and his conservative family-oriented lifestyle all appealed greatly to Rickey. Rickey’s main fear concerning Robinson was that he would be unable to withstand the racist abuse without responding in a way that would hurt integration’s chances for success. During a legendary meeting Rickey shouted insults at Robinson, trying to be certain that Robinson could accept taunts without incident. On October 23, 1945, Rickey signed Robinson to play on a Dodger farm team, the Montreal Royals of the International League.

Robinson led that league in batting average in 1946 and was brought up to play for Brooklyn in 1947. He was an immediate success on the field. Leading the National League in stolen bases, he was chosen Rookie of the Year. In 1949 he won the batting championship with a .342 average and was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).

After retiring from baseball early in 1957, Robinson engaged in business and in civil rights activism. He was a spokesperson for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and made appearances with Martin Luther King, Jr. With his induction in 1962, Robinson became the first black person in the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, New York. His autobiography, I Never Had It Made, was published in 1972. In 1982 U.S. President Ronald Reagan awarded Robinson the Congressional Medal of Freedom, the highest honor for an American civilian.
In April 1997, on the 50th anniversary of the breaking of the color bar in baseball, baseball commissioner Bud Selig retired Robinson’s jersey number, 42, from Major League Baseball. It was common for a team to retire the number of a player from that team, but for a number to be retired for all the professional teams within a sport was unprecedented. (Those players with that number then playing on any team would be allowed to finish their careers without changing numbers, but after that time the number would never be used again.)

Along with this tribue of retiring Mr. Robinson’s number is the renaming of the Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award, to the Jackie Robinson Award, as it became known in 1987. This award of traditional solid walnut and cast bronze is given to the individual player from each League who has the best rookie season; pitching, hitting or fielding, that is during his first year of eligibility. A lasting tribute to Mr. Robinson’s “everyday greatness”.

Employee Recognition: Survey

As a member of the National Association for Employee Recognition I would like to share the result of the following survey concerning Employee Recognition. This report summarizes the results of a survey conducted jointly by WorldatWork and the National Association for Employee Recognition (NAER) in February 2005 to identify and track trends in employee recognition. A similar WorldatWork and NAER member survey was conducted in both September 2003 and October 2002, providing a baseline of information about recognition program types, strategies, measures, administration, communication and training. In February 2005, an updated survey instrument was sent electronically to 2,708 WorldatWork members and 599 NAER members. A total of 614 responses were received.

Read on for the highlights of the survey.

Some of the highlights of the survey are…

…The Number One Goal of Recognition Programs (Again): Create a Positive Work Environment

…‘Length of Service’ Is Most Frequently-Awarded Recognition; Above and beyond is Second

…Certificates/Plaques Is Still Top Recognition Items

…Special Events, One-On-One and Staff Meetings Are Most Common Recognition Venues

…Most Organizations Have Both Formal and Informal Recognition Programs

…Most Organizations Use Intranet or Internet for Program Communication

…Employee Satisfaction Survey Is Top Success Measure for Recognition Programs

…Most Believe Management Views Recognition as an Investment, Not an Expense

…Most Organizations Do Not have a Full-Time Position Dedicated to Recognition


Highlight detail of the survey follow:

  • Recognition remains important to organizations; 92 percent of organizations say employee recognition is occurring more often today within their organization versus 12 months ago.
  • Nearly half of all respondents (48 percent), regardless of whether they have employee
  • recognition programs in place, are considering adding new recognition programs in the next 12 months.
  • Sixty percent of organizations with an employee recognition program have a written program strategy.
  • The established objectives/goals of recognition programs have not changed much since the 2003 survey: “Creating a positive work environment” remains the most common goal at 81 percent of organizations. Motivating high performance, reinforcing desired behavior and creating a culture of recognition continue to drive recognition programs.
  • Seventy-six percent of respondents believe their recognition programs are meeting outlined objectives and goals.
  • Employee satisfaction surveys (used by 45 percent) are still the most common way
  • organizations gauge the success of recognition programs, but participation rates and the number of employee recognition nominations received also are increasingly used as measures.
  • Length of service programs continue to be the most common type of recognition program offered (89 percent of organizations), with 87 percent of those companies having offered the program for more than five years.
  • Almost seven in 10 organizations (69 percent) report they have a specific budget for recognition programs.
  • The human resources department has primary responsibility for recognition program administration in the majority of organizations (57 percent).
  • Fifty-five percent of respondents believe that senior management views recognition programs as an investment, while 13 percent think management views it as an expense.
  • Only 23 percent of respondents say that a formal training program for recognition programs exists within their organizations. Among the organizations that do have formal training, 69 percent rely on in-person training sessions.