I announced in May, 2010, the 52 - Week Employee Recognition Plan. This is the 26th week. The lesson this week is:
Have you heard of The Golden Rule? It’s common English phrasing is:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
I introduced it in Week 23: Share your failures. To share our failures requires us to forgive ourselves, first. I’m not saying forgive and forget, but forgive and learn.
Employee recognition isn’t all cookies and milk in the afternoon after a day of manufactured awards in the newly-minted tradition of ‘Every child deserves a trophy.’ You’re recognizing employees for their contributions. Some of those will be mistakes. How you, as a leader, handle those mistakes determine whether you inspire more engagement and more ideas and more solutions, yes more mistakes, or whether you remind everyone to avoid risks lest you suffer another round of abuse and humiliation.
You shared your failures. You led by example. You showed them how to share failures, openly and honestly, as a teaching tool.
- Failures and mistakes will happen; we can’t move forward without them.
- Learning from our mistakes is the 2nd step. We can only learn if we share our mistakes in a culture of openness and respect.
Sharing and learning is built on the foundation of forgiveness. This is not the forgiveness of a benevolent leader, on high, absolving an underling of blame. This forgiveness comes from humility, respect and equality.
It’s only together we move forward, achieving, falling down, getting up and learning, achieving, falling down, getting up and learning. Stir and repeat. Step by step.
This process of learning, this culture of learning as Gary Harpst described it, is a culture of engagement. Employee engagement is one of the keys to reverse the trend of declining return on assets that John Hagel’s research discovered and reported in The Shift Index. Employee engagement is how companies generate higher profits, lower costs, higher productivity, higher share prices than their competitors who ignore their leaders forced to hide by an unforgiving corporate culture.
Back to The Golden Rule. While its common English Phrasing is Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, the Golden Rule, the ethic of reciprocity, is found in all great cultures, cultures that last and create a lasting impact on our progress.
If that ethic can be found in all cultures in all times, if it can create great sustaining inspiring cultures, surely it can work in your organization. Forgive those in your organization. Create a culture that endures, that grows, that inspires.
Forgive each other. Find our leaders; they’re all around us. Grow our organizations and our economy.
You can start with any week of the 52 - Week Employee Recognition Plan and make that your first week.
You can take one of those weeks and turn it into a month or commit to an accelerated pace and complete 6 of the weeks in one month.
You can create your own week of employee recognition. Share that journey here. Share it in your blog or Twitter or Facebook.
But, do something to recognize your employees! They set your brand apart as your ultimate competitive edge.
And the more you recognize their achievements, the more achievements you'll see and they'll enjoy, along with your customers and and shareholders, partners and vendors.