Tag Archive for motivation

Take Inspiration from Relationships: Years of Service

cakeI’m a big fan of recognizing people at work for their contributions and their efforts. And I’ve talked about the good, bad and ugly of service awards before – one thing that drives me crazy is when we think it’s sufficient to applaud someone just for sticking it out at our crappy company for a given amount of time.

And I really hate it when when the bestowing of service awards becomes just another task-to-do of the HR Manager.

Look…I get it. Sometimes the phrase ‘planning and execution of the company’s annual service awards lunch’ is actually listed on the HR Manager’s job description. It’s a legacy process at her organization, left over from the industrial era, that she has neither the energy nor resources to get changed. The CEO (who inherited it) and his VPs (who could care less) are just not interested in giving it much thought; there are widgets to make after all. So service awards and recognition become something that can, as far as they’re concerned, continue to reside firmly in HR’s domain.

But you know what? If you’re in HR and as fed up with pins and postcards and an annual boring luncheon you can change all that pretty easily.

Service awards, as part of your company’s recognition process, can have a huge impact. It’s easier than you think to ditch the laser-engraved card and polo shirt with the company logo. Make a bold move from the check-listed chore that needs to be squeezed in sometime between the time your EEO-1 Report is due and Open Enrollment kicks off.

If you embrace a holistic system of recognition and celebration, then regular acknowledgement and reinforcement of the behaviors that the organization wants and cherishes will become second nature.

A while back an employee named Patsy who worked on my team celebrated 20 years as an employee. She had been with the company from its origin – a “founding member” if you will – and everyone knew her. We didn’t have much in the way of technology beyond email and our intranet but we had lots of memories. So almost everyone in the building gathered in the employee cafeteria for cake (white cake with white frosting!!) and drinks. A handful of employees brought photo albums and someone from Marketing dug up company newsletters from the mid 90’s. The CEO, choking back some tears, reminisced about the days when she and Patsy shared a desk when the company opened its doors.

What was particularly awesome about this day was that we celebrated Patsy’s service by letting all her coworkers and colleagues honor her. She had spent so much time with everyone in the company and they all had the opportunity to publicly share their stories.

I was reminded of Patsy recently when checking out this video from Globoforce about their new product Service Timelines. I like it a lot. (note: this is an actual Globoforce employee celebrating her 15 year anniversary).



That – to me – says human. That – to me – exemplifies the type of people processes I want to embrace. Honoring employees and making sure they continue to feel connected to my organization in a personal and meaningful way.

You can gather in the cafeteria (like we did for Patsy) or you can take videos and post on message boards and internal networks (cool for a dispersed workforce of course). The key though is to gather input from across the organization. After all, it’s not just the employee’s manager with whom they work. It’s Steve in Accounting. It’s Bill in the next cubicle. It’s Carrie who worked with her on a project team.

That’s the stuff that makes people happy; that’s the stuff that makes people want to stay and work for you. Relationships of all kinds matter. Not just the one with the boss.


note: I’m partnering with Globoforce as a paid contributor and, as I should, am disclosing this to you in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Bring your Horn

photo copy 2A few weeks ago Mr. S. and I went to a local restaurant on a weeknight to see a friend’s band play; one of the truly great things about south Louisiana is how live music is accessible everywhere and anytime.  Playing old school R&B with a bit of the new (they actually did a pretty good version of “Blurred Lines”), they quickly got the crowd dancing in the aisles. The band is comprised of 5 guys yet when they returned for the second set crammed onto the tiny stage (and I mean tiny) were two additional guys who had been in the audience enjoying the show with the rest of us: a trombone player and a sax player.

Needless to say, some “Earth, Wind and Fire” rocked the joint.

At the conclusion of the evening as we all hung around and chatted with friends I mentioned to the trombone player (who, as it turned out,  was an old schoolmate of some band members) how nifty it was that he had his trombone along so the band could get him to join them on stage.

“A true musician always brings his horn” he replied.

Oh I like that. Right there.

Isn’t it always better to:

  • Arrive at your destination with a positive mindset
  • Show up every day believing that what you do matters
  • Be prepared for anything
  • Be ready and willing to participate
  • Enjoy each moment

How much better if we ‘bring our horns’ with us each day?

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Aron Ralston #HRFL13

2013_HRFlorida_AronRalston_125x171This morning’s kick off keynote speaker at the HR Florida State Conference & Expo was Aron Ralston – the man who inspired the film “127 Hours.”  In 2003 while hiking in a canyon in southern Utah, Aron was pinned by a half-ton boulder for nearly a week in a remote three-foot-wide slot.  He narrowly escaped death by severing his right forearm with a dull pocketknife. After applying a tourniquet, he hiked and rappelled for five hours through Blue John Canyon before searchers in a helicopter miraculously rescued him.

Taking us through the story, Aron pointed out that we all are faced with boulders in our lives and everyone finds themselves placed between a rock and a hard place.

As he told his amazing story, punctuated with jokes and humor, the audience was enthralled and silent..  As he talked about how we all face choices in our lives  he also encouraged us to be in those moments and accept the accompanying challenges.  In the moment of his decision, before cutting off his arm, he realized that doing nothing –  not acting – would  be a “small act of suicide.”

“That boulder gave me a gift; it showed me what was really important in my life,” Ralston said.

How can we turn despair and hopelessness into a will to survive and live?  Or  can we turn it into, as Aron did, into a will to love

When taking one final look at  boulders – obstacles – that have been in your way can you say “thank you” to them?  Give thanks and acknowledgment to those things that have stood in your way and presented challenges?

Aron Ralston did just that.


Saccharine and Surliness

receipt pictureI spent a few hours at the local mall this past weekend with my fellow shoppers. Among them was the bro who mistakenly believed his friend was behind him on the escalator as he proceeded to share a tale peppered with the extremely liberal use of a phrase that describes, um, mothers and a certain proclivity for sexual activities. He swiveled his head around (I imagine because he hadn’t heard a grunt or guffaw from his bud)  and SURPRISE – found me!

In between all the good times and frivolity I did manage to do some actual shopping and interacted with a variety of clerks and sales assistants.  The experiences ranged from welcoming and enjoyable to pain-filled.  One clerk was on her cell phone throughout the encounter (“hold on; I gotta help this lady”).  Another was unable to scan an item due to an incorrect price tag and asked me (let’s not imagine for a moment that SHE could do this..) if I could go get another one that so could ring the transaction.  Which, naturally, I did.

Saccharine and surliness.  Assistance and agony.

And on all ends of the spectrum, I was asked to provide feedback on the service.  This is nothing new – a lot of large department stores and chains have been doing this for several years – “Please visit the website listed on this receipt, enter your code and put in my name, Trixie, to tell us about today’s shopping experience.”

How many customers actually take the time to do this? I never have, primarily due to the fact that as soon as I get home the receipts are dug out of bags, purse and pocket and tossed in the trash.

But I actually contemplated taking the time this weekend.   I wondered how best to capture the boredom and disgust with which Sarita hastily scribbled her name on the receipt as she asked me to complete the survey?  How to fully articulate, via a web portal, the fact that shortly after Sarita rolled her eyes as she instructed me to enter my PIN she reminded me to “make sure I praised her?”


Now I’m willing to cut folks working in retail some slack.  They spend hours on their feet, put up with rude customers, and do it all for the glory of  (generally) low pay.  It’s a tough job.  Not always sunny.  I get it.

But Sarita better expect the ‘shopping experience surveys’ to be a little gloomy too.

Now where did I put that receipt?