He was about 6'4", 260 pounds, ponytail, tattoos, Harley t-shirt, leather jacket, and his nickname was “Bull.” His supervisor was recognizing him publicly for his seventeen years of service. As the supervisor told stories illustrating “Bull’s” willingness to change plans without getting upset, every onlooker saw “Bull” transform to a demeanor reminiscent of a Boy Scout being appreciated for his community service.
This might have been the first time “Bull” could remember something nice being said about him, especially at work. It was obvious for months to come that the genuine appreciation from his supervisor strengthened their relationship and communication making the workplace a better place to be.
Any public recognition must flow out of a sincere appreciation for the character of the individual being recognized. And, a public recognition will be only as credible as the private appreciation employees receive day in and day out.
Be specific when expressing appreciation. Generalized, generic comments lack credibility and bore people. When recognizing someone, identify a specific character quality and tell a specific story of how you saw the person demonstrate it. “Bull’s” supervisor was impressed when he pulled “Bull” off his machine to start one left idle when a coworker called in sick. “Bull” did not whine, complain, gripe, bellyache, or cuss; he went to the job with a good attitude. That’s flexibility, that’s appreciated, and the story will keep people awake.
Appreciation must be genuine. If “Bull” thought for a minute that the only reason his supervisor was saying something nice was to make himself look good as a supervisor, “Bull” would probably not have come forward to be recognized. As supervisors, we communicate our sincere gratefulness by avoiding poor humor, not calling attention to ourselves, and focusing on the character that motivated the individual’s good action.
If there is ever a time when what is said must be believable, it is a public recognition. A supervisor who bluffs his or her way through a recognition or simply flatters an employee will do more harm than good. “Bull” was not touted as the best employee or as one who never has a bad attitude. Superlatives (always, never), comparison (best, most), and flowery language will cause employees to roll their eyes and call in sick the day they are due for a recognition.
What we celebrate and reward influences our culture. Celebrate what you want more of in your people. Without recognition, your character emphasis will lack genuineness and seem empty. With recognition, your character emphasis will be a powerful tool to develop relationships, which will ultimately transform the workplace culture.
Focus on character, not just results, if you want a culture of integrity.Article by permission www.characterfirst.com
written by John Burnett