Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Art from the Hart

In this season of gratitude, the entire Rideau team is thankful for your friendship and support.

Wishing you a joyful present and a well remembered past.

Warmest thoughts for a wonderful holiday and a very happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

E Pluribus Unum

We have all seen the words… on the coins in our pocket, on paper currency, on the Seal of the United States.

Perhaps you know what these words mean, but I did not. (Apologies to my teachers… but five years of Latin just didn’t do it for me!)

I only recently learned what the words meant… E Pluribus Unum ~ “Out of many one”.

What a beautiful thought… especially during the holiday season.

For no matter where we live, what we look like, what believe in… we are all important and our world… our one world is richer because of it.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Friend Mark!

The compliment that helps us on our way is not the one that is shut up in the mind, but the one that is spoken out.
- Mark Twain: A Biography

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Recognition from the Hart: The Heart of Your Workplace

Employers Web published my new article on employee training. Click here to learn about how to leverage your employees' potential as well as increase employee engagement and loyalty.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Saying "Thank you" can be taught!

I recently had the pleasure of attending the first VPHR conference, an international recognition convention hosted by Christophe Laval, VPHR founder. Author Ruben Chaumont also attended and wrote this article (in French) in L'Expansion about a few interesting key points covered during the conference on the importance of recognition in the workplace.

Happy recognition reading!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Art from the Hart

Winter Walk by Peter Hart

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Building Social Capital

Want to learn more about how to build social capital in the workplace?

Join my good friend Steven Green on December 16th, 2009 for PollStream’s Real Engagement Webinar at 2pm EST. The theme of the session is Building Social Capital within the organization.

The speakers on the call for this session are USAA's Betsy Pasley and Best Buy's Ericka Webb. They will each share real-world examples of how they harnessed the Social Capital within their organizations and successfully enriched a culture that attracts employees and customers alike.

It is a great opportunity to hear how companies are using the same social software solutions that you are to engage, educate and inform your audience. I encourage you to attend. You may register here.

See you on the 16th!

Monday, December 7, 2009

What Really Killed Van Gogh?

A couple of years ago I visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

I’ve visited many museums but this one was very special because I love Vincent Van Gogh and the magnificent, colorful works he created.

Van Gogh only painted for about ten years. During his lifetime he created about 2,000 works of art. He painted quickly and with great passion and most of his best-known works were produced in the final two years of his life.

Many of these masterpieces are on display at the museum and displayed in chronological order. You can actually see how his work became increasingly colorful as he moved towards his tragic suicide in 1890.

While browsing in the Museum’s bookstore I came across Martin Gayford’s book titled “The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Provence” and I bought it for my wife Francine who unfortunately wasn't on that trip with me. Both of us enjoyed it immensely. You can get a copy.

I later began to re-read the book which is something I often do that with books I’ve enjoyed... it’s like visiting an old friend.

While reading it, I started thinking about the lessons I’ve learned over the past few years about recognition from some very smart people.

One of the most interesting conversations I had was with Professor Jean-Pierre Brun in Paris last November. At the time, Jean-Pierre was the Chair of Occupational Health and Safety Management at Laval University in Quebec. He is currently working in Paris as the Executive Director of Stimulus, a French based company that deals with stress and workplace health issues.

Jean-Pierre’s research at the University of Laval has proven that the lack of recognition is the second-highest cause of workplace stress and burnout. During the course of our conversation Jean-Pierre went on to say that employers who withhold recognition from employees who deserve it are actually injuring them. (The verb he used in French was “blesser” which translates as "wound" in English).

In a previous post I stated my belief that recognition should not be limited to the workplace. It is something that should apply to our daily lives.

Now put this in the context of Vincent Van Gogh…

For most of his career, Vincent struggled in anonymity and his work was never recognized. Most accounts say he only sold one painting… “The Red Vineyard.”

Imagine that! Only one painting out of over two thousand that he created!

Vincent’s only real source of recognition came from his younger brother Theo. He supported him financially and through thick and thin. But Theo’s recognition only came in the form of letters: he lived far away in Paris and Vincent lived in Arles, in Provence. Vincent was truly alienated from most of society and alienation is the exact opposite of recognition.

Towards the end of his life Vincent suffered repeated bouts of mental illness. The most famous led him to cut off his own ear. Ultimately he took his own life.

I wonder what would have happened if Vincent Van Gogh’s work had been appreciated and recognized during his lifetime?

How many more masterpieces could have been in the Van Gogh Museum?

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Friend Mark!

The form of a compliment has nothing to do with its value -- it is the spirit that is in it that makes it gold or dross. This one was gold. This one was out of the heart, and I have found that an ignorant hot one out of the heart tastes just as good as does a calm judicial, reasoned one out of an educated head.
- "The Refuge of the Derelicts" published in Fables of Man

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dan Pink - Rethinking Carrots and Sticks

One of my favorite websites is

TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design.” The group started out in 1984 and has a loyal following because it organizes conferences that bring together some of the world’s brightest people who are challenged to make an outstanding presentation in 18 minutes!

Dan Pink, a lawyer by training and a former speechwriter for Al Gore is one of the bright people who accepted the TED challenge. He gave a TED talk last summer at Oxford University on “Rethinking the Ideology of Carrots and Sticks” in the workplace.

Everyone in the incentive field should watch the clip for no other reason than Dan challenges many conventional beliefs on workplace incentives. Basically, he says there is a huge mismatch between what social science has proven about extrinsic “carrot” incentives and what business practices. Dan states that carrots can hinder our abilities because we focus far too much on the incentive to the exclusion of everything else. In other words, extrinsic incentives can suppress and distort our innate intrinsic values.

You can expect to hear a lot more on this topic because Dan will be releasing a new book called, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”. It will be published in late December.

Dan believes that “Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose” are key intrinsic motivation drivers. I understand where he is coming from and think Dan makes some very valid points!

We need a new paradigm that goes beyond the traditional carrot and stick approach. One that will unlock employees' intrinsic drivers and create environments that allow them to grow as individuals, because when they grow, so do our companies.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Wow - Max Speaks Mandarin!

We recently announced that Max Brown, CRP joined Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute (RMI) subsidiary as a Vice President of Organizational Learning. He also recently hosted a webcast on our HCI recognition and motivation learning track.

I first saw Max speak at a Recognition Professionals International (RPI) breakout session several years ago. His presentation was powerful and very motivational. But what left a lasting impression on me that day was how he spoke about his family.

He first spoke about his parents… a truly remarkable couple that have given so much to so many. You see they had 5 of their own (Max was the eldest) and adopted 8 others for a total of 13 children! They also fostered 100 kids over 20 years! Talk about amazing!!! Max then went on to speak lovingly about his wife Sally. She was in the audience that day. She was sitting in the front row left hand side. He referred to Sally several times during his presentation and you could see that her presence meant a lot to Max that day.

I remembered thinking to myself this is a man who clearly cares about his family… a value I cherish.

My first direct conversation with Max was at another RPI event in Chicago. Max was taking the last few courses to become a Certified Recognition Professional. This too impressed me. There are a lot of “experts” who speak about recognition but never bother to get CRP certified. I know it’s not a big thing, but it bugs me. Max was literally going to practice what he preached.

Our conversation turned to personal matters. I found out that Max was a mountain climber and had lived in Shanghai, China and traveled extensively around Asia and the world. I found out that Max was an Eagle Scout and that his first major speaking engagement occurred when he was only 16! He presented to 6,000 Boy Scouts! He told me that speaking was in his blood… his grandfather, father, mother and an uncle all had the gift. Today, Max and Sally now have the gift of family with 2 beautiful children. Drew who is 15 months, and AnLi will be three in January.

I will never forget the day I gave Max a Platinum Tour around Rideau!

As we went around the company that day introducing Max, my Chinese colleagues were taken aback when Max started conversing with them in fluent Mandarin. The look on their face’s were priceless… hey you don’t look Chinese!!! What’s up??? I wish I had a camera… and that’s when I learned that Max is also a very accomplished photographer. When he gave me permission to paint some of his photos, that sealed the deal… no question… he was coming to work for our group of companies!!!

But seriously, with the addition of Max, I believe Roy Saunderson is quietly and methodically assembling a group of individuals who will make the Recognition Management Institute the world’s leading consultancy on employee recognition.

Welcome Max!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Art from the Hart

The Garden by Peter Hart

Monday, November 23, 2009

Social Networking in the Workplace

Not too long ago, the Financial Post published an article titled “Social Networking By Workers Not Without Cost To Employers”. The article outlined how employers are concerned employees spending time on Twitter and Facebook are costing them money. It cited a survey that estimated lost productivity on Twitter cost employers US$13.5-billion in lost productivity in 2008.

Needless to say the article has stirred up a considerable amount of debate in the recognition industry and one of the contributors was my friend and colleague Steven Green from PollStream.

Here're Steven’s comments and thoughts on the original article and the pros and cons of social networking as it pertains to our industry:
Hey kids, turn down that rock and roll music!
I have come to the conclusion that pockets of the recognition industry are still having trouble separating the benefits of social software in general from the very specific sites of Facebook and Twitter.

Tools allowing employees to engage in dialogue online, to share their opinion with peers, managers and leaders are transformative to the organization. Being a large organization means you have employees spread across geography and time zones - it's very difficult for people in different locations to connect and learn from each other. By leveraging online tools, employees can much more easily find and share resources with the right people at the right time.

Sabre Holdings has implemented a social site that connects people who have questions with the most likely people in the organization who have the answers. The questions and answers are then available in a shared resource for others to benefit from. Along the way, employees get to know each other and find out what other skills they each have; what pets they own and anything else either person wants to share in their online profile. The result is that employees get to know each other as people rather than just getting a question answered. What's the benefit of getting to know your colleagues? Anyone in our industry can offer more than a few answers to that question.

The Corporate Executive Board recently completed a large scale report called Mobilizing the Workforce: Enable High-Impact Communications Across the Workforce. This is an excellent report that is part of their What The Best Companies Do series. The conclusion is that peer to peer tools are the most effective way to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement. There is much more to the report of course, but of the 7 companies featured, 5 of the case studies illustrate the power that social software had on workforce mobilization and engagement.

One of the stories in this report focuses on the impact of an informal recognition program launched by TD Bank. Yes, it's a program that my company Pollstream provides and while I am proud of the results, I am not alone in thinking it's had a tremendous impact on the organization. You can hear first-hand how Wendy Arnott of TD Bank explains the impact the program has had on the company in her interview with Shel Holtz. More recent information on the program shows a positive correlation between retail branches who are engaged in the social media program and their respective Customer Experience Index. That's powerful.

Do Twitter and Facebook have a place within the corporation? That's one question, but why do we obsess about this as if it is the only question? I can tell you that from our view of the world, companies that do not adopt social software are going to have a hard time attracting and retaining talent in the near term. The younger knowledge worker will have lots of choice of where they want to spend their day and a company that does not offer the tools these young people expect will be turned down flat. Being able to earn visibility in the workplace is very important to the job seeker today. Social software provides the opportunity for employees to be discovered on their timeline which is very desirable. The question being asked by knowledge workers more and more is, "How do your values mesh with mine?" No mesh, no hire.

It’s funny how we always have these debates when new technologies emerge. George Bernard Shaw said “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”!

Truer words have never been spoken!

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Friend Mark!

Here are some words of wisdom from Mark Twain for your Friday afternoon!
A dozen direct censures are easier to bear than one morganatic compliment.
- Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's Love Got to Do With It?

Missed RMI's Max Brown's recognition webcast, "What's Love Got to Do With It? Communicating Respectful Recognition for Results"?

You can always catch one of the recast dates!

Don't miss these webcast take aways:
  • Aspects of effective recognition- immediate, specific, and meaningful- by design
  • Create consistent recognition experiences for your talent
  • Engage leaders in delivering meaningful recognition
  • Multiple ways to deliver recognition- in person, electronically and nonverbal recognition
Click here to register!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why Loyalty Matters: The Groundbreaking Approach to Rediscovering Happiness by Timothy Keiningham and Lerzan Aksoy with Luke Williams

When I found out that I was going to be on a panel discussing how recognition builds loyalty with Dr. Lerzan Aksoy, I decided to purchase her book, Why Loyalty Matters.

The back of all Rideau business cards has the following graphic:I believe RELATIONSHIPS are the key to success in our personal and professional lives.

I also believe that LOYALTY is absolutely essential for relationships to thrive.

Lerzan's book examines all aspects of loyalty and shows us why loyalty is so important.

The book comes with a Loyalty Advisor test. This is a onetime test for you and for your friends. There are no right or wrong answers.

The test measures how you fare against the happiest 15% of the population.

You can also see if there is a gap between how loyal you perceive yourself to be and what your friends believe.

I learned a lot from the book including P2 R2... what I need to do to be more loyal.

Check it out. It’s a great read.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What's Love Got To Do With It? Communicating Respectful Recognition for Results

On Wednesday November 10th, Rideau will be presenting a recognition webcast hosted by my colleague, Max Brown, VP Organizational Learning from the Recognition Management Institute.

Communicating recognition effectively breathes life and sincerity into acknowledging desired results. The person to person communication of recognition is the most motivating part of your recognition initiative - it can be done with respect, sincerity, and consistency to motivate results. Without a real purpose and strategy, your programs will languish. If you want to turn your recognition program into a Real Recognition Solution that has lift-off, or want to improve your leadership effectiveness, this webcast is for you!

Max is an incredible speaker, and I'm sure you won't be disappointed! So register now to find out "what's love got to do with it"?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Join The Employee Recognition Community!

I want to personally invite you to join a newly forming community of employee recognition professionals.

The Employee Recognition Community, launched with the support of David Zinger and hosted by Roy Saunderson, CRP, is a new social network created to provide a nonpartisan free recognition community. Dedicated to employee recognition, this community provides a real source for member to member active contribution.

The site is already rich with content and global networking capabilities.

I encourage you to join the Employee Recognition Community and invite others to join with you. You can join our new community at

Art from the Hart

Church Behind The Louvre by Peter Hart

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cultural Diversity & Recognition

Rideau’s latest employee census puts us at 260 strong and we have a very diverse employee population.

Here are some interesting stats from our HR department:

• 50.2% of our employee base are women.
• 34.7% of our employees belong to a visible minority.
• We come from 39 different nationalities… from American to Vincentian.
• We are based in Montreal, the French speaking part of Canada. This means we work in French and English. But because our employees come from all over the world we have many employees who speak several languages at work and in the home. At last count, we speak 23 languages from Arabic to Vietnamese.
• We are also very family oriented… there are 26 different families representing 67 employees working at Rideau.
• I don’t have the latest stats on “best friends” working at the company, but I do know over 12% of new hires have come from our own internal employee referral program.

I believe Rideau’s makeup gives us a huge competitive advantage because we have to deal with cultural diversity everyday single day. Many of our client's struggle with this diversity but often, it is in distant faraway lands. At Rideau, it’s up close and personal. I’d like to explain how we deal with cultural diversity internally but first I’d like to turn to Dr. Geert Hofstede.

Dr. Geert Hofstede is a Dutchman who has done extensive work on how the workplace is influenced by culture differences. I learned a bit about Dr. Hofstede’s work when I took Recognition Professionals International’s CRP certification courses. But I only truly started understanding his work when I read “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell. This book details the tragic flight of Korean Airlines flight 801 which crashed into a mountain side on the island of Guam. Mr. Gladwell takes us step by step through the events leading up to crash and validates the quote on Dr. Hoftede’s homepage… "Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster." In this case, 228 people lost their lives.

In a nutshell, Malcolm Gladwell details how Korean culture inhibited the co-pilot and navigator from telling the pilot what they really thought he should be doing to avert disaster. What I found fascinating was how Korean Air put Dr. Hofstede’s work to practical use after the crash to prevent the same occurrence again and improve safety. They looked for something that would act as a leveler so the crew could speak freely and not worry about longstanding cultural norms. That leveler turned out to be English. Korean Air insisted that everyone speak English in the cockpit. This took everyone out of their “Korean comfort zone” and allowed people to speak freely.

Language is one of the levelers we use at Rideau to deal with cultural diversity.

The other is recognition. Here are some of the practical things that we do…

• We recognize everyone’s service anniversary annually. It doesn’t matter if you have 4 years or 26 years of service. On a person’s actual service anniversary, regardless of the number of years, department, position, nationality, location, language or position in Rideau you can be sure quite a few people are going to reach out and congratulate you.
• Likewise, we do the same for birthdays.
• We conduct internal Platinum Tours at Rideau. It is not uncommon to have senior folks and junior folks sitting on these tours. I once had a very senior 18 year employee sitting beside the cleaner who swept the floors and only been at Rideau for four weeks on a Platinum Tour. (Today that cleaner is a star in our call center)

Recognition is our great leveler…

Respect everyone. Appreciate everyone for who they are. Recognize everyone for what they do each and every day.

The beauty about recognition is that it can be used locally, nationally and internationally.

Embrace and celebrate diversity. Use recognition to level it out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Recognition from the Hart

Employers Web published my new article on recognition social networking. Click here to learn about how to leverage a social network to enhance your recognition program!

My Friend Mark!

Some Twain wisdom for your Friday...
We are unanimous in the pride we take in good and genuine compliments paid us, in distinctions conferred upon us, in attentions shown us. There is not one of us, from the emperor down, but is made like that. Do I mean attentions shown us by the great? No, I mean simply flattering attentions; let them come whence they may. We despise no source that can pay us a pleasing attention--there is no source that is humble enough for that.

- "Does the Race of Man Love a Lord?"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Avoid Recognition Breakage!

Breakage is a term used to indicate gift cards that have been sold but never redeemed. Revenue from breakage is very profitable because companies do not provide any goods or services for the unredeemed gift cards. Breakage is also a factor in many point based programs where a company pays for points up front, however this post deals with gift cards.

Gift card breakage is huge…

TowerGroup, a financial-services research firm estimated that 10% or $8 billion of the $80 billion spent on gift cards in 2006 will never be redeemed! Consumer Reports estimates the amount is even higher! They say in 2005, 19% of people who received gift cards never used them.

Some gift card retailers have also imposed conditions on gift cards, such as expiration dates or monthly service fees that periodically reduce the value of the gift card. However, many States have passed (or plan to pass) legislation which outlaws expiry dates and fees or charges of any sort on gift cards.

How does this affect your recognition and reward program?

Well, if you hand out gift cards as a reward, realize that a significant portion of your recipients will never use them! I call this “reward breakage.” And while it’s not a good thing at least the recipient has the “value” of the gift card in his or her hands and it’s up to them whether to use it or not.

In my opinion, “recognition breakage” is much worse.

These are schemes whereby providers send out “recognition award certificates” that can be exchanged for a variety of gift cards. These “recognition award certificates” often have an expiry date attached to them… usually one year. While the law and legislation is much murkier when it comes to “recognition award certificates” one thing is clear… these providers are hoping recipients never, ever, exchange them for actual gift cards!

I find it ironic these “providers” call themselves “recognition experts” because the bottom line is they really do not want recipients to pick up their “rewards”!

We have come across several cases of companies who complain they don’t get reports from these providers. No wonder! Why would these providers want to reveal the fact that a significant portion of the “recognition award certificates” are not exchanged.

It’s called recognition breakage! Avoid it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Innovative Ways to Drive Employee Loyalty.... again

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of participating on a webcast panel with Will Ng, Incentive Magazine Managing Editor and Dr. Lerzan Aksoy, co-author of “Why Loyalty Matters.”

We spoke about the intricacies of employee loyalty, recognition and engagement. The impact you can have on your people by deepening employee and manager relationships is amazing.

The webcast is now available online to download for free. You must register first, then you may navigate through the virtual conference to the presentation pages. Or once logged in click here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Head to Head with Cancer... part 2

In case you missed it, earlier this week we had a very special and very amazing event at Rideau: Head to Head with Cancer. Our employees came together in an amazing way and raised over $35,000 towards the Canadian Cancer Society.

View a little video of the event below with special guest Jean Beliveau!
Or click here to read more about our event.

Art from the Hart

Sacré Coeur

I painted this on a trip to Paris last year with my wife Francine. It was a Sunday afternoon and the crowd on the steps were listening to an artist playing hits from the 70s in English.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Head to Head with Cancer

My Mom Phyllis, was first diagnosed with cancer in late November 1996.

She was in Florida at the time and even though she was fully insured, her long time Florida doctor recommended that she return to Canada so our family could help support her and my Dad through her coming battles. Mom was operated on two weeks later and had several really rough months but she survived her ordeal.

Sadly, the cancer returned early 2000. This time she was not so lucky. She died on October 27th in a small hospital north of Montreal surrounded by my Dad, sister, two brothers, another long time family friend and me. Her passing brought our family, which was already close, even closer together. Every year at this time we get together, raise a glass and tell Silly Philly stories.

Four years ago, on the fifth anniversary of her passing, we decided to participate in the local Shave to Save campaign that raised funds for Cancer. Our employees, suppliers and clients raised over $11,000 for this great cause and my best friend Cam Ferguson, my brother Stephen as well as my two sons Jonathan and Jordan along with me shaved our heads for the cause.

We decided to do it again this year. Again on the anniversary of my Mom’s passing. The only difference being we opened it up to all our employees. Yesterday afternoon, almost 20 of us participated in our very own event: Head to Head with Cancer.

More importantly… we have raised over $35,000!

(Click here for more pictures of the event)

I want to thank all fellow shavees for participating in this event. I want to thank all my Rideau employees, suppliers, clients and friends who contributed to the event. I also want to thank my good friend and hockey legend Jean Béliveau for coming out and supporting all of us. Jean battled cancer the same time as my Mom so his participation was especially welcome.

Together we can all beat this terrible disease that has taken away so many of our loved ones.

Monday, October 26, 2009

2010 Recognition RX: Engaging Employees for Economic Recovery

One of my proudest professional accomplishments was to found the Recognition Council, a Strategic Industry Grouping (SIG) within the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) . For the last two years I have had the privilege of serving as its President.

The Recognition Council was formed to provide an awareness of how recognition and rewards can help achieve better business performance. Our focus is to educate and promote the benefits of recognition and rewards to the worldwide business community.

Today the Recognition Council numbers 30 strong and consists of our industry's leading recognition and reward companies.

We have just released our very timely second white paper “2010 Recognition RX: Engaging Employees for Economic Recovery.” This will help your organization determine how recognition programs and budgets should be constructed for maximum impact.

I would be remiss if I did not publicly thank Susan Adams, the Recognition Council’s Chair of Education Content. While many people worked on our white papers, Susan acted as our Chief Organizer and we all owe her a big debt of gratitude.

Click here to view other Recognition Council resources.

BTW… Sue probably has the coolest business title of anyone I know… she is Dittman Incentive Marketing’s “Great Escapes Solutions Director”! And no… this doesn’t mean breaking folks out of prison! If you’d like to learn more about Dittman Incentive Marketing and Susan’s innovative Great Escape solutions check out this recent article in


Friday, October 23, 2009

HRO World Europe - November 18-19 London

On Wednesday, I spoke about a recognition conference in Paris, while you're in the area, you should hop over to London and try and catch the HRO World Europe conference.

It takes place November 18 - 19 in London.

My good friend and fellow Rideau Board member Jay Whitehead along with his colleagues are bringing together over 250 senior executives who are intent on transforming their HR operations.

Another good friend, Christophe Laval CRP will be delivering a keynote titled “The Intersection of 3 European HR Megatrends: Performance Management, HR Outsourcing, and Recognition at Work”. Christophe serves with me on Recognition Professionals International’s Board of Directors and is the President & CEO of VPHR. He recently wrote “Plaidoyer pour la reconnaissance au travail (”A Plea For Recognition in The Workplace”). His firm VPHR, is the first European firm dedicated solely to recognition in the workplace.

It should be a very informative keynote and conference!

Break a leg Christophe!

Click here to register.

My Friend Mark!

More words of wisdom from my friend Mark Twain...

One should not pay a person a compliment and straightway follow it with a criticism. It is better to kiss him now and kick him next week.
- Inscription written on fly leaf of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Reported in Kansas City Star, April 10, 1911, p. 6.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Recognition in Paris

If you happen to be in Paris on November 10th, you should join me at VPHR’s conference on recognition at work!

A few of my colleagues will be speaking about the impact of recognition in the workplace.

However, I should warn you, my presentation will be in French. And this warning not only stands for my English participants – but my French ones as well! LOL!

So if you’re willing to bear with me, I invite you to some very Parisian recognition time!
Click here for more info!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Starting Over After 42 Years!

Recognition Professionals International’s 2nd Best Practice is to have senior management buy into your company’s recognition strategy. In fact, Recognition Professionals International deems this so important that it is an essential ingredient for a Best Practice program.

At Rideau, we are very lucky. The chief architect of our recognition strategy in Roy Saunderson. Roy is the president and founder of the Recognition Management Institute, a division of Rideau. My senior management team, many whom are CRP grads support our strategy and lead by example.

But I’m proud to say that Rideau goes even further. Our Board of Directors help management walk the talk. For example, this summer, we had our annual service award ceremony and the entire Board of Directors attended the event. Indeed, some were even recognized for their years of service to the company. Jay Whitehead and Brenna Garratt both celebrated service anniversaries. Gord Feeney and Governor Arne Carlson, our Chairman and Vice Chair both celebrated 5 year anniversaries and participated in our ceremonies as recipients.

I had a bit of fun with Gord Feeney… he worked for 42 years for RBC Financial Group, Canada’s largest company with 80,000 employees. Gord ended up in the number two spot as the Bank’s Vice Chairman. Gord always wears his 40 year RBC service pin with pride. It is a beautiful pin and features four diamonds. Of course, when Gord got his 5 year Rideau service pin he took off the RBC pin and replaced it with his 5 year Rideau pin… sadly, it only featured one lonely ruby. I told Gord no bother… in another 35 years his Rideau pin would feature 4 diamonds!

Seriously, getting management buy in is essential. But if you can, get your Board involved too. It sets a powerful example!

Weekly Art from the Hart

Memories of España

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Innovative Ways to Drive Employee Loyalty

On October 21st at 2 pm, I will be presenting with a group of very interesting panelists at Virtual Incentive World.

We will be talking about ways to drive employee loyalty. My fellow panelists are Will Ng, Incentive Magazine Managing Editor and Lerzan Aksoy, co-author of “Why Loyalty Matters,” a great book which I happen to be reading right now!

Hope to virtually see you there!

Register here!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Let’s Hear it for a Recognition Bill of Rights!

I love history because it teaches us so much. Not only about the past, but about today as well as the future… who hasn’t heard the expression, “history repeats itself?”

One very interesting document I’ve read is America’s Bill of Rights. It contained the first ten amendments to the US Constitution and was introduced by James Madison. It came into effect in 1791 and became a model for many other countries that passed bills outlining individual rights.

That got me thinking… there ought to be a Recognition Bill of Rights for the workplace.

My Recognition Bill of Rights would start out with a preamble that states all employees should be treated with respect and dignity in the workplace.

It would articulate that employees should be appreciated for who they are and what they do.

It would go on to affirm that recognition should not be left to the discretionary whims of managers.

It would declare that recognition in the workplace is a “right” for everyone in the workplace!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Recognition from the Hart

Employers Web published my new article on trade shows. Click here to learn about how to get the most out of these conventions!

My Friend Mark!

More on recognition from Mark himself...

It is a talent by itself to pay compliments gracefully and have them ring true. It's an art by itself.

- "I Was Born for a Savage" speech, 1907

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Recognition's Kiss of Death

Over 90% of all North American companies have recognition programs. Yet 60% of all employees do not feel recognized.

These stats speak volumes and are a powerful indictment against how we have traditionally approached recognition in the workplace.

I believe most companies are way too concerned with “what” rewards they give as opposed to “why” they give them in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong. Rewards are very important. However, they must be strategically thought out. They must complement the recognition that is being given. Many times, companies will offer rewards that are inappropriate to a recognition program’s objectives.

What drives companies to include inappropriate rewards in their programs? Often, it’s simply a case of employees pressuring senior management. Program administrators should push back on “shot gun reward” requests by explaining the strategy behind their recognition strategy. Make sure that your senior management understand that their job is to explain “why” these rewards are being given in the first place.

Don’t let inappropriate rewards become your recognition program’s kiss of death!

Monday, October 5, 2009

HRO Today – Building Moral Trumps Monetary Rewards

Every year, HRO Today magazine devotes an issue to recognition and rewards.

One of the main stories in this year’s issue is how recognition forms a crucial part in creating and improving moral.

It also explains how recognition can trump monetary rewards. Remember, for recognition to be received the way it was intended, you must make sure to connect with the recipient on an individual and emotional level: cash rewards seldom convey the personal aspect paramount to effective recognition.

Though you must register to read this story, it is free and well worth it! Register and check out the story on rewards here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

New painting of the week

Zoe's Paw by Peter Hart

Monday, September 28, 2009

Recognition Training is Useless…

Yes, you read it right! But let me explain.

It’s a question of putting the “why” before the “how” in terms of the recognition paradigm.

All too often we try and train managers “how” to recognize employees before they fully understand “why” they are recognizing them in the first place!

Simply put, we must educate managers “why” recognition is important before we train them “how” to do it.

In my experience there are three broad categories of recognition education:

1. There are those managers who understand the why and “get it” completely. They make recognition a part of their daily lives.
2. The second category consists of the managers who do recognize others in the workplace but do not consciously realize it.
3. The last group consists of managers who do not recognize others. They believe recognition has no value and create a variety of reasons not to use this strategic tool. More often than not, they don’t understand why recognition is important because they never experienced it themselves.

Obviously, recognition education must be tailored to suit the needs of each group but it is CRITICAL to educate managers “why” recognition is important before you start training them “how” to do it.

I believe recognition often fails because we have trained too many managers to go through the motions without understanding the real reasons why we do it. This understanding leads to Real Recognition… a phrase my friend and colleague Roy Saunderson coined many years ago.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Friend Mark!

Some more words of wisdom from my friend Mark Twain!

Do not offer a compliment and ask a favor at the same time. A compliment
that is charged for is not valuable.- Notebook, 1902-1903

Monday, September 21, 2009

Baker's Dozen List - Again!

Check out this year’s HRO Today Baker’s Dozen list. Rideau made the list again for the 6th year in a row!

I am super proud of all my 250+ colleagues who consistently provide innovative, customer and recipient centric recognition solutions year after year after year!

View the Baker's Dozen list here

Friday, September 18, 2009

How Recognition Impacts Good Work

My good friend and fellow Recognition Professionals International Board member, Dee Hansford recently appeared on Brian Moffitt’s "Good Work NOW!" show. Brian’s show is dedicated to finding and creating good work.

Workplace recognition plays an important part in encouraging and recognizing good work.

Watch a short clip of Dee and Brian. Or watch Dee's entire 30 minute interview.

Dee does a great job of explaining why recognition is so important today.

Happy viewing!

New painting of the week

Parc Monceau by Peter Hart

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Friend Mark!

Some more words of wisdom from my friend Mark!

The happy phrasing of a compliment is one of the rarest of human gifts and the happy delivery of it another.
- Mark Twain's Autobiography

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Recognition is Free!

Not too long ago I read an article in The New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell. It was titled “Priced to Sell – Is free the future?” (July 6 &13, 2009)

Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite authors. “Blink,” “The Tipping Point” and more recently “Outliers” were all best sellers and great reads.

His article in The New Yorker explained difficult negotiations the Dallas Morning News had when it tried to license its content for use on Amazon’s new electronic reader, the Kindle. In a nutshell, Amazon wanted 70% of the subscription fees and the right to republish the newspaper’s content to any portable device.

The article went on to cite numerous examples of how the price of content is being driven down and how “free” is becoming the new norm. Gladwell is absolutely right and there is a lesson here for those of us in the recognition industry.

All too often recognition is viewed as an expense… but that’s not true.

Meaningful words of appreciation and recognition cost NOTHING! Words should be used liberally and on a timely basis to praise specific efforts and achievements.

Remember… Recognition is Free!!!