I announced in May, 2010, the 52 - Week Employee Recognition Plan. This is the 32nd week. The lesson this week is:
- Celebrate their birthdays in the way they want to celebrate it.
The whole point of a birthday celebration is to celebrate that person. So...why not celebrate in the manner that brings the greatest happiness to that person. That...recognizes that person on their day.
How do you know what way they want to celebrate?
- What cake do they like?
- Do they even want a celebration?
- On premises or off?
- What do they secret little indulgence do they pine for?
- What favorite stories can you you share about them?
- Why do they matter to you, your team, your organization...their organization?
- How and where and when have they contributed?
Those are good starters. But, you know the right ones to ask.
Then you deliver. Deliver what they answered. That’s how they want their role to be recognized.
See? An added bonus is that process gets everyone involved in recognizing that person. Now as Arlo Guthrie sang, you have a movement of recognition and it ends in a celebration.
I am prone to push the limits: exercise, work, humor, comments, feedback, love, friendship. I will continue here.
How many companies have policies about birthday celebrations? Only once a month, no cakes, x minutes, no candles...whatever.
And when did that policy go into effect?
Did anyone judge its impact on morale, productivity, operating profit, cash-flows, employee turnover, employee hiring and training? Anecdotally, I can point to a handful of companies whose decline in excitement and growth and passion began right after that policy was implemented.
My sense is that a policy on birthday celebrations is the first step on the path of disengagement. How do you create an inspired, happy, energized workplace if someone else sets limits on how employees and their contributions are recognized?
Now, the good people who wrote the anti-birthday policy for the employee manual are good people. And the decline of your company, their company, is neither their fault nor the fault of their finely worded policy. Its creation and dissemination is a portent, a sign, of more things like that to come.
I know there will be those who claim well you have to have rules...I think it’s more important that you have to have adults, whose work is aligned and recognized and incentivized correctly. Then these adults know how and when to party. A policy limiting this is a policy that says...we don’t trust you; you don’t know how to manage your priorities and we don’t know any better way to help than to just say well you can’t x. And x is a birthday celebration in the way the birthday boy or girl wants their celebration.
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.