Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Motivation Starts With Recognition

I recently read a good article from Successful Promotions magazine called, “How Mickey Makes Magic”. It discusses how some companies will cut back on their employee recognition programs when times get tough. What a mistake. Just think about it. What happens to your employees when you take away motivation? What happens to their service? What happens to retention?

In 2004 Disney World was hit by three major hurricanes within about five weeks (once during Labor Day weekend) and this year has seen a drop in revenue due to the economy. Yet even in hard times they realize, “you don’t mess with employee recognition programs.”

“Disney’s theme parks and hotels have the lowest staff turnover rates in the travel industry.” That’s made possible, in part, by keeping cast-members engaged. They’re not the highest paid people around so it’s got to be something more. You may think that they have some big elaborate program for recognition but they really don’t. Most of it is very simple and things most companies could also do.

One of the tools that Disney uses is the “Recognize Everyday Magic” kit. The kit consists of simple sticky notes, thank-you cards and praise cards that managers give out to cast-members when they find them “doing something right.” Every manager gets one of these kits.

Managers are also encouraged to come up with their own types of recognition. Some managers have designed their own pins to carry around in their pockets and hand out as they see someone doing something right with a comment like, “Thanks for making a difference.” Pins really don’t cost that much to produce – maybe a couple of dollars a piece, give or take depending on the style.

Another very simple idea is to let everyone know when you implement suggestions that employee’s have made. Disney has a newsletter entitled, “You Said … We Listened.” This is a quarterly newsletter that lists “ideas generated by employees that resulted in changes.” Let others know that you really do listen.

A very important thing to remember with any recognition program is that recognition is NOT a yearly check-off. Good behavior should be reinforced immediately. So don’t look for your annual Christmas party to show your only thanks.

These are just a few things that you can do that have been proven successful by one company. Take a few minutes and think about what you can do. Maybe even get suggestions from your employees. There’s a simple type of recognition right there. What better motivation then to let your employee’s get involved in decisions?

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