Harness The Power Of Praise To Learn How To Transform Company Culture

“Another day, another dollar,” “Thank God it’s Friday,” “You can take this job and shove it!” Why are so many common phrases about work negative?

What would it take for you to learn how to transform company culture and have your people say: “Another day, another exciting challenge,” “Thank goodness it’s Monday,” “I’ll take this job and love it!”?

Some managers claim the best way to motivate is through the wallet. While money is useful, it is not the only key to motivation or the only way to learn how to transform company culture.

Recognition can mean a lot more to staff. A genuine pat on the back, given at the right time, in the right way, for the right reasons – and in front of the right people – will boost morale and commitment in ways that money never will. It can also help you learn how to transform company culture successfully.

Openly and honestly thanking each employee for hard work and dedication can go a long way toward creating a happy and productive team and it may help you learn how to transform company culture. But don’t wait for a special occasion – do it today, and then do it again next week. Learning how to transform company culture calls for consistency.

What else can you do to learn how to transform company culture to an environment of motivation and reward? Contests and awards do work. But they are not enough to create a challenging and inspirational environment. They alone cannot help you learn how to transform company culture.

You can make a bigger difference and learn how to transform company culture with these four steps:

1. Learn from everyone’s mistakes to understand how to transform company culture.

Before rewarding people for a job well done, assure the staff that they won’t be crucified if things end up poorly. Trust is essential for learning how to transform company culture.

In an environment of challenge and growth, people must try things they’ve never done before. And they will make mistakes. In a healthy and rewarding culture, people are encouraged to learn from their mistakes, and then quickly regroup and rebuild. Managers should work with employees to understand what went wrong, rectify the situation and then improve the approach. Attack the problem, not the people involved. Lead through encouragement to learn how to transform company culture for the better.

Ask your team aloud: “What can be learned from this mistake? What can be improved? Who else should we inform so they can benefit from the learning, too?”

Many companies have rituals for celebrating success and achievements, and that’s good. But it’s the mistake no one hears about (and others blindly repeat) that can pull you to the bottom.

“Sweep it under the rug.” “Turn a blind eye.” “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” These are recipes for disaster and will also hamper any efforts to learn how to transform company culture.

In Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, Harvey McKay writes: “You’ll always get the good news; it’s how quickly you get the bad news that counts!”

Lead by example. Start your next meeting by sharing the biggest mistake you’ve made in the past two weeks. Explain what you learned. Ask others for their ideas, listen to feedback and thank those who offer opinions. Openness is essential to learn how to transform company culture.

By taking the lead, you will demonstrate a willingness to learn and encourage a culture of sharing and honest communication.

What about staff who make no mistakes? Either they are very good at hiding what is really going on or they are not being challenged enough. The person who only makes small, safe and bureaucratic moves does not innovate or grow. In today’s turbulent markets, this is not what you need to succeed. Learn how to transform company culture and encourage creativity and your business will be more likely to succeed.

2. Make appraisal criteria clear.

Make sure the staff understands how they will be appraised for raises, bonuses and promotions. Your staff must clearly understand the criteria for their evaluation.

Introduce your standards of appraisal during the hiring process, explain it again during employee orientation, and clarify the process consistently in staff meetings, newsletters and executive forums.

After you have published these “rules of the game,” keep the playing field fair. Meritocracy demands unprejudiced assessment. Nothing dooms staff morale faster than watching an incompetent who “takes care of the boss” move up the ladder, while capable staff who don’t kiss backsides languish in mediocre positions.

Ask yourself: “Are the criteria for staff evaluations made clear? Are they openly explained and discussed so that all parties can achieve and succeed? Is the process of evaluation fair-minded?”

If your answers are yes, keep moving forward. If your answers are no or maybe, tackle those issues now. If you are not sure of the answers, check with those whose opinions really count: your staff. Conduct a survey, take a poll, ask for immediate feedback.

But be forewarned: If the staff says your system of appraisal is unclear or less than fair, you’d better be ready to change it. Even more discouraging than an unfair process of evaluation is an unfair process of evaluation that persists after staff have given you their honest opinions about it. This will harm your efforts to learn how to transform company culture.

3. Encourage career development to effectively learn how to transform company culture.

Make sure the conversation about career development is always open. Provide high performing staff members with a boss, mentor, counselor or human resource person who cares about their professional growth and personal well-being.

Show you care about your staff members’ future possibilities and potential, not just their current results and past achievements. Help the staff understand the competencies required for a more successful future. Chart career progressions that are achievable and realistic.

Provide easy access to courses, seminars and conferences. Subscribe to useful publications and circulate them to your team. Share websites, e-zines and articles of interest. Build a library of books, catalogues, CDs, videos and other career-building resources.

Create opportunities for learning without spending money outside your organization by cross-training staff inside. Use team rosters and re-assignments to integrate neighboring departments. Create cross-departmental teams to work on cross-functional projects. You can learn how to transform company culture while encouraging great collaboration and employee development.

Put these career development plans into action and watch your staff’s confidence – and competence – grow. You will also see your efforts to learn how to transform company culture grow.

4. Create powerful rewards and meaningful recognition.

Tailor your in-house reward and recognition programs to reinforce the process of learning how to transform company culture. Most rewards are handed down from the top: management praises staff, supervisor recognizes team member, boss applauds the workers. Why stop there?

Start a “Bottom-Up” award for staff to recognize their leaders. You set the budget, but allow staff to select winners, the reasons for winning and appropriate awards. This is a great way to learn how to transform company culture while empowering employees.

Harness positive “peer pressure” on a group and individual basis. Ask each department or team to select and publicly recognize another group for their effort, improvement or support. This encourages cross-functional appreciation, understanding and cooperation. It is also a positive way to learn how to transform company culture.

Ask each employee to nominate one or two role models from among their peers. Ask for specific reasons supporting each nomination. Then praise the role models and publicize the specific reasons to reinforce those values and behaviors. This is an excellent way to learn how to transform company culture while empowering employees.

Invite customers to participate in your staff recognition programs. Put easy-to-use nomination forms at key points of customer contact. Set up a hotline for customers to call with compliments or complaints.

And get your suppliers involved, too. Query them by phone, e-mail or in person. Thank them for their votes and send them a copy of the praise you will share with your staff. And finally, remember to reward the rewarders! Provide recognition for managers who excel at recognizing the members of their team.

Key Learning Point On How To Transform Company Culture

It takes energy and commitment to deliver consistently uplifting service. Praise is the spark that lights the fire. Frequent recognition is the fuel that keeps the fire burning. Use plenty of both to keep the climate warm for staff – and the customers they serve. Learn how to transform company culture in this manner and everyone will benefit from the effort.

Action Steps To Learn How To Transform Company Culture

Conduct a “recognition audit” inside your organization.

List all the ways your people get appreciated, noticed and rewarded. Sort into categories: individual and group, financial and non-financial, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly, from managers and peers, from customers and suppliers, privately and in public, lavishly and simply, in writing and in person, long running awards and brand new awards, etc.

Which categories are empty or shallow? Get creative with your team and fill them up! Learn how to transform company culture through recognition and your entire business should benefit.


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Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “Uplifting Service” book and founder of Uplifting Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit UpliftingService.com.

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