Monthly Archives: July 2007

Employee Recognition – What Makes a Good Reward?

I would like to pass a long an article on “what makes a good reward”.

A good reward should…

… link personal contribution to the company progress in a way that is SMART:

Above all else, a good reward should reflect a genuine expression of appreciation. Token acknowledgements leave something to be desired.

To endure a motivating influence, rewards should be aligned with the values, goals, and priorities that matter the most.

The diverse workplace demands alternatives. Consider creative options to keep your program fresh. No single reward format works for everyone all the time.

Some personal dimension is essential to a good reward. No matter how formal or informal, expensive or affordable, the relevance of any recognition will be improved with a personal touch–it’s a little thing that makes a big difference.

It is important that rewards respond to the behavior they are intending to reinforce. Don’t let too much time pass or the reward will be devalued and credibility eroded.

Finally, when announcing and presenting awards, take the time and effort to do it right. Doing so will enhance the credibility of the process, make an impression and unlock the emotional commitments that should continue to pay dividends long after the occasion has passed.

Tangible rewards come in all shapes and sizes. Whether the cost is high or insignificant, the reward should be memorable and perceived as valuable to the recipient. Money is nice, but it tends to be spent quickly and then forgotten. I believe that the best rewards are those that have a symbolic significance that fits within an organization’s culture.

For instance, Trinity Services, a non-for-profit agency serving people with disabilities, has introduced a frog mascot, Lillie Leapit, into its culture which encourages employees to “leap ahead.” A variety of rewards, low in cost, but sporting a leaping frog, have been given for specific performances.

“The employees have come to relate more enthusiastically to the frog logo than to the agency logo of three diamonds. Each time they see or use the item, it reminds them once again that they successfully took another giant leap.” Debbie Gustafson, Directory Employee Services, Trinity Services, Inc.

Rewards are most motivating when they are
Based on clearly communicated criteria,
Directly reinforcing of desired behavior or performance,
Valued by the recipient, and
Provided by someone of significance to the recipient.

In practice, rewards tend to be:
Late or overlooked altogether,
Arbitrary or Inconsistent,
Provided to everyone who happens to be present,
Routine and Ordinary,
Not valued by the recipient or valued primarily by the provider, and
Provided impersonally or without a presentation at all.

“The difference between theory and practice determines the effectiveness of the reward.” Bob Nelson, president of Nelson Motivation, Inc., is the author of “1001 Ways to Reward Employees” and “1001 Ways to Energize Employees.”

by Jim Brintnall, Brand Strategy & Product Development at Successories, Inc.,
Debbie Gustafson, Trinity Services, Inc.,
Bob Nelson, Nelson Motivation, Inc.
“Recognition News”, Volume 2, Issue 2

Employee Recognition – Catch Someone

Have you caught anyone doing something right? Traditionally we tend to admonish and call out the mistakes made on the job or reprimand the problem employees – the “squeaky wheel getting the grease”, so to speak. All this, while the unsung heroes of your organizations, who are at the core of your organization’s accomplishments, go about their jobs, mostly unnoticed. I am sure many of us are guilty of this. We personally had been.

To solve this issue, …

…we took a different tact by introducing the “Catch Someone Doing Something Good Award”. This award has become the most prestigious award within the company. The recipient is nominated by their piers and/or supervisors, without the employees knowledge, for extraordinary deeds done during the course of the work day. These deeds are documented and submitted to the President for review. Once a month, or whenever the deed warrants recognition, the person is selected for special recognition. Once someone is selected, we find out something particular that that person has wanted, that they may not normally purchase for themselves or could afford. The item to present is found by asking spouses, co-workers or friends. Once the item is selected, it is purchased and presented. The presentation is in the middle of the work day. The staff is called into a central work area, where the shocked and surprised recipient is thanked in public for “doing something right”. The award could be an ipod, a favorite (and expensive) baseball bat, a gift certificate to a favorite store or an etched piece of crystal documenting the achievement. The unexpected recognition, more times than not has brought tears to the recipient

One of the best kept secrets today is the power of recognizing employees. To be the most effective, the recognition or thank you should come as soon as possible after the achievement or desired activity. You also need to be specific about what you are praising the person for and why. Recognition and praising that are too broad tend to seem insincere. But saying “Thank you for the exceptional initiative you have shown in developing new business” or “Thank you for turning a potentially embarrassing and disappointing situation with a customer around with your willingness to help” specifically says what and why an employee’s effort was of value. Try “Recognizing the Everyday Greatness” around you – it will be appreciated and worth the effort.

Recognition: Info & Fun Facts – What’s Hot

“What’s Hot” or new is a question we get asked frequently when working on new recognition requests and concepts….

Design, Mixed Media and Color! Today’s customers want a creative blend of color, creativity and contour. As a result, award designers and manufacturers are offering new unique products to satisfy this need. One increasingly popular way of addressing the requests are the use of more creative, attention-catching designs in acrylic, glass and crystal utilizing bevels, angles, contours, varying degrees of thicknesses, and other manufacturing techniques to create unique contemporary dramatic designs. The designs are enhanced by marrying various metals, resin, exotic woods or stone bases or highlights – combining and mixing mediums.
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To further enhance these creative designs we’ve noticed trends in adding color to the designs such as hot-stamped digital images applied to the acrylic/glass/crystal designs and in some case four-color process images applied directly to acrylics. Both sides of the item can be customized to give imprinting a layered look. These new awards seem to approach the realm of art, with their creativity, design, different materials utilized and color.

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So when we are asked “What’s Hot” in Recognizing Everyday Greatness, our answer has been “Design, Mixed Media and Color”!

Famous Awards – The America’s Cup

Did you know what the oldest sporting trophy is that was first contested in 1851?


Answer: The America’s Cup, a Silver ewer (pitcher), presented for Yacht Racing.

The Cup itself is an ornate silver-plated Britannia metal bottomless ewer, crafted in 1848 by Garrard & Co. The trophy is inscribed with names of the yachts that competed in the regatta’s matches. Bases matching the silver cup were added in 1958 and 2003 to accommodate more names. The cup is one of three or six that were made as off-the-shelf trophies. Sir Henry Paget, the Marquess of Anglesey bought one and donated it for the Royal Yacht Squadron’s 1851 Annual Regatta around the Isle of Wight. It was originally known by the Squadron as the “Royal Yacht Squadron Cup” or the “RYS Cup for One Hundred Sovereigns”. The Cup subsequently became known as the “One Hundred Guinea(s) Cup”, by the American syndicate that won it. As time went by, the Cup was also referred to as the “Queen’s Cup”, the “America Cup”, and the “America’s Cup”. Today, the trophy is officially known as the America’s Cup and affectionately called the “Auld Mug” by the sailing community.

The regatta’s origins date back to August 22, 1851 when the 30.86 m schooner-yacht America, owned by a syndicate that represented the New York Yacht Club, raced 15 yachts representing the Royal Yacht Squadron around the Isle of Wight. America won by 20 minutes. Apocryphally, Queen Victoria asked who was second; the answer famously was: “There is no second, your Majesty.”

Volunteer turning Sandy Hook Lightship on Sept. 27, 1887 during the seventh America’s Cup.The surviving members of the syndicate which owned the America donated the Cup through a Deed of Gift (written in 1852) to the New York Yacht Club on July 8, 1857. The trophy would be held in trust as a “challenge” trophy to promote friendly competition among nations.

Stung by this blow to contemporary perceptions of invincible British sea power, a succession of British syndicates attempted to win back the cup, but the New York Yacht Club remained unbeaten for 25 challenges over 113 years, the longest winning streak in the history of sport. Matches were held in the vicinity of New York City from 1870 and 1920, which includes the “Herreshoff Period” between 1893 and 1920, when cup defenders were designed by Nathanael Herreshoff. From 1930 to 1983, the races were sailed off Newport, Rhode Island for the rest of the NYYC’s reign.
The America’s Cup is the most famous and most prestigious regatta and Match Race in the sport of sailing, and the oldest active trophy in international sport, predating the Modern Olympics by 45 years. The sport attracts top sailors and yacht designers because of its long history and prestige as the “Holy Grail” of yachting. Although the most salient aspect of the regatta is its yacht races, it is also a test of boat design, sail design, fundraising, and management skills. The cup, originally offered as the Royal Yacht Squadron cup, is now named after the first yacht to win the trophy, the schooner America. The trophy remained in the hands of the New York Yacht Club of the United States from 1852 or 1857 (when the syndicate that won the Cup donated the trophy to the club) until 1983 when the Cup was won by the challenger, Australia II of Australia, ending the longest winning streak in the history of sport. The skipper of Australia II, John Bertrand, was quoted in saying, “This puts yacht racing back on the map!”

The America’s Cup regatta is a challenge-driven yacht series that currently involves a best-of-nine series of match racing (a duel between two boats). Since the 1992 match, the regatta has been sailed with the International America’s Cup Class (IACC) sloop, a monohull class. Boats that conform to the IACC rules typically have a length of about 75 feet (23 m). Any challenger who meets the requirements specified in the Deed of Gift, which governs the regatta, has the right to challenge the yacht club that holds the Cup. Since 1983, Louis Vuitton has sponsored the Louis Vuitton Cup as a prize for the winner of the challenger selection series (which was inaugurated for the 1970 match). The America’s Cup is a race between the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup and the current holder. If the challenging team wins the cup, the cup’s ownership is transferred from the defender’s yacht club to the winning team’s yacht club

On Tuesday afternoon in March of this year, Alinghi successfully defended the 32nd America’s Cup for the Société Nautique de Genève with a thrilling one second win in Race Seven over Emirates Team New Zealand. Alinghi wins the 32nd America’s Cup Match by a 5-2 score.

The protocols for the 33rd Americas Cup were released on July 5, 2007. The protocol agreed to with Club Náutico Español de Vela, the Challenger of Record, will feature boats of 90 feet in length and crews of up to 20. Final specifications and the host city for the 33rd Americas Cup will be released no later then 31 December 2007. The 33rd Americas Cup will take place no earlier then 2009 and no later then 2011.