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GREAT Staff Recognition

Leaders’ words and actions can make value statement relevant

Mike Boyd has his work cut out for him. Edmonton’s new police chief faces the challenge of restoring staff morale and public confidence in a police service that has be buffeted by controversy and scandal for more than a year.

Rather than quietly slipping into town, Boyd has chosen to be very public about his challenges, and his plans and vision for the force. He demonstrates a willingness to reach out to the community and listen to citizens’ concerns and suggestions. This process included a public swearing-in ceremony at City Hall on January 18, although he had officially taken over earlier in the month.

Addressing the crowd of police officers, politicians, and members of the public who attended, Boyd reviewed the service’s core values: integrity, accountability, respect, innovation and customer service.

In doing so, he said something that had particular resonance for me:

“I know that nothing influences the behaviour of our members more than the behaviour of their superiors. As supervisors and managers at every level, we are the role models and our actions, not the slogans or the list of values framed on the wall, influence how others behave. I want us all to be worthy of imitation.”

In other words, what we say is important should be reflected in what we are doing. What the organization says is important – in its mission statement, vision and values – should guide how staff behave towards customers and each other.

This is an important message for leaders in all types of organizations. They can bring these foundation documents to life by modelling behaviour that reflects these values – as Boyd suggests – and by praising others for behaviours that they want to see more often. Doing so makes the content of these documents more relevant to those on the front line.

Often there is a disconnect between what organizations say is important and those things for which staff are recognized. The mission and values statements are irrelevant to front line staff who witness supervisors praising others for behaviours unrelated or even contradictory to what the organizations claim to value.

If integrity, respect, and innovation are valued by an organization, leaders should recognize staff for behaviour that demonstrates integrity, respect for both customers and co-workers and innovative approaches to work-related tasks.

All supervisors should examine what their organizations say is important. Are they showing that these values are relevant by recognizing staff for behaviours that reflect these values?

During his Staff Recognition & Retention seminars, Nelson Scott emphasizes the value of genuine, timely, specific, personalized and relevant recognition in making the organization more successful, increasing commitment, improving morale and reducing turnover.

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