GREAT Staff Recognition

Meaningful recognition begins with knowing people and what they do

I must have an addiction to the Olympic Games. What else would explain why, for 17 days in February, I spent hours each day in front of my TV, clicking from CTV to Sportsnet to TSN and back again? Watching athletes who I had never heard of, from countries I would have trouble finding on a map, competing in sports I don’t understand? Downloading not one, but two apps to my iPhone so I could keep track of results and medal standing?

Luckily, the Games have ended and I’m in recovery.

As a consequence of watching days of Olympic coverage, I was exposed to hours of commercials. Most were annoying, forgettable or both. But one stood out for me—both for its entertainment value and what it unintentionally said about management styles and staff recognition.

During the 30-second spot, several customers stand in awe as two crew members juggle up to five eggs at a time as they prepare McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches. Toward the end of the commercial, an excited manager appears. “I don’t know what you guys are doing, but don’t stop!” He disappears for moment, but returns briefly to give the guys a thumbs-up before continuing on with his day.

Nice words of encouragement, but I couldn’t help wondering, “Where has this guy been? Why doesn’t he know what’s happening in his own restaurant? Why didn’t he stop long enough to see what was going on before offering any comment?” (To view the commercial, visit http://studio.adbeast.com/MediaViewer/?eRG=9C57F5DF-9885-4883-9258-C00BFC580E9A&index=)

By admitting that he doesn’t, “know what you guys are doing,” the manager has diminished the value of the recognition he is providing. It just doesn’t sound as genuine as it could.

He sounds like a CEO who stands up at the company’s annual recognition event and proclaims with all the sincerity he can muster, “I don’t really know most of you or what you do, but I want you to know that whoever you and whatever you do is appreciated.” It just doesn’t sound genuine.

This recognition would have been more meaningful to the recipients if the manager actually understood what the “guys” were doing that was drawing customers into the restaurant. He should also know the guys’ names.

Tom and Steve, you guys are doing a great job. The customers are lovin’ it. Keep up the great work!”

Sounds better, doesn’t it? It shows that the manager is expressing gratitude based on knowing who’s doing what.

Now, back to dealing with my addiction. After all, it’s only two years and five months until London 2012.

First published in Briefly Noted by Nelson Scott, April 2010.

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