Edward Hallowell outlines 10 tips for promoting shine among your people, but two of the tips stand out the most because they are so simple: “acknowledge people’s existence” and “try to provide recognition in person” (Hallowell, 2011). Both of these tips create a connection between the employee and the organization, which is critical to success. They make everyone feel as though they are part of something bigger and create a sense of community among coworkers.
Acknowledging people’s existence is the most simple of the tips. It takes virtually no effort to say hello in the hallway, give someone a smile or a compliment. I worked for an organization in which the president prided himself on walking the hallways and being a “man of the people” instead of spending his entire day in an office. The problem is he would walk the hallways acknowledging only a few people, generally those who reported directly to him. He would not say hello to everyone and sometimes he even walked with his head down to avoid eye contact. It could have been the sign of a shy personality, but many employees interpreted it as his view that they were not valuable and saw him as rude and condescending. In contrast, my current supervisor says hello to everyone, making sure to throw in an occasional compliment or thank you for a job well done. It does not seem like much, but it makes people want to come to work and do well.
Providing recognition in person is also a powerful tip. In my last job, the organization’s president provided quarterly awards of recognition during our staff meetings. Winners were called up to a podium to receive a certificate that they could display in their offices and names were printed in the company newsletter. These awards were given to those nominated by their peers or supervisors. This created a more positive environment for everyone because the awards provided recognition not only to the award recipients, but also to the person who nominated them. The nomination letters were read aloud and everyone heard why the employee was considered worthy of an award. Public recognition allowed all employees to see that hard work would be recognized and provided role models for others. It also helped employees to see that their contributions were valued. This provides an incentive for employees to do the right thing even when they are not being recognized.
Hallowell recognized that recognition not only provides motivation for doing the right thing, but also strengthens an employee’s connection to the organization (Hallowell, 2011). An employee who is invested as an integral part of the organization is more likely to do what is best for it. It is easy to lose sight of the importance of positivity when we are caught up in day-to-day activities, especially when we encounter obstacles to success. However, it does not take much effort to remember Hallowell tips. Just a little recognition can go a long way.
Hallowell, E. M. (2011). Shine: Using brain science to get the best from your people. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.