Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day: The Ultimate Pre-Fab Recognition?

Last week we celebrated Valentines Day. The greeting card industries' manufactured holiday. Most everyone who has a significant other celebrated this with the obligatory card and candy and flowers. I could not help reflect on how that obligatory expression of appreciation relates to the recognition industry. Is your recognition program like Valentines? Do you find you are going through the pre-fab motions because everyone else does it or are you really doing something meaningful to show you care?

In my children's school every classmate brings cards and notes and candy to pass out. Different from my days in school where you thought about the card and who you gave it to for fear they might think you were crushed out on them. You may not even give everyone a card. The "party" was not so organized, just something you did for 20 or 30 minutes during the school day. But, it had big impact. Especially if you received a card from your crush. But, my kids' day involved punch and cookies and games. We did the stock cards, made for the occasion. My son chose dinosaurs. The girls did pets. And then they taped a chocolate to each one after addressing them to each classmate. Seemed like a lot to me at the time. Nobody was left out.

After school that day my 3rd grade son jumped in the car and started pouring through his Valentine goody bag. Out came the trinkets. Some parents go all out with little toys, tattoos, and stickers. Reminded me of a conference swag bag. "What you got there?"I asked. "Good stuff? What is your favorite? Anything special?" I said. "I think I like Lana's card best because she drew a boat on it." he said. I looked at the card, handmade from construction paper in all its glory. Boats, as of late, fascinate my son. It is his current passion. And Lana was thoughtful enough to pick up on that personal detail and express it in his card. That handmade card my son received cut through the clutter of those pre-fab cards and really connected with him.

So what are you doing with your recognition program's content to make those special connections? Are you just going through the pre-fab motions with what is expected? Or do you find a way to add to your program's content and make REAL, personal connections that tell your employees you know them and you recognize the good job they do and you care? Recognition does not have to be complicated or follow the pre-fab expectation. The point is to create a way to make it personal and cut through the clutter.

Wonder what Lana thought about her dinosaur card?

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