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.