The Sideline Blog

Just as sports players come to the sideline for rest and guidance, this blog is meant to provide you some insight and guidance as you explore your Strengths journey.

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  • Chad T. Ahern

HR to Talent Management - Recognition


This week I want to talk about the third pillar of donor relations - recognition - and its implications for moving human resources into talent management. The last two weeks I've addressed the more "science-based" pillars of donor relations -- acknowledgement, and impact reporting. Recognition and engagement are often seen as the "art-side" of donor relations. This is because they are more about the "warm and fuzzy" than they are based on metrics. What's interesting here is that for far too long both stewardship (donor relations predecessor) and human resources have gone to the same bag of tricks --- literally. For both professions it has too often been about giving stuff to people. For donors, its been to recognize certain levels of giving. "Give us X amount and we'll give you a [insert gift object here]." For many human resources operations its often about years of service or completing "the" major project for the year or quarter. There are three big problems with this approach. First, its based on factors employees have little control over. To stay at the company you have to hope that the company doesn't let you go. To do this you have to avoid downsizing while also not doing anything that will upset your manager/director/CEO. This leads to mediocrity (a post for another time). Second, you actually have to be on the team that gets the "big project(s)". Third, its not personalized. Some people might like little gifts, others might appreciate time off, or a donation to their favorite charity. So what can be done differently? The book Love'Em or Lose'Em provides a pretty good list to start. Be...

  • Spontaneous - Catch people doing something right and thank them then and there.

  • Specific - Praise people for specific accomplishments and efforts.

  • Purposeful - Take an employee to lunch or dinner at a great restaurant to show your appreciation of work well done.

  • Privately - Go to your employee's office to give a personal thank you and praise.

  • Publicly - Praise an employee in the presence of others.

  • In writing - Send a letter, memo or email. Consider sending a copy to team members or higher-level management. --- Love'Em or Lose'Em, page 175

Need some more ideas? I'd suggest...

  • Highlighting the employee in internal or external press - it could be as simple as highlighting them on the company Facebook page, or as complicated as getting a story into a state or national paper.

  • Give in their name to their favorite charity

  • Offer a LinkedIn recommendation

  • Nominate them to be a speaker at an upcoming conference

  • Simply include their name in your remarks at an event they helped pull together

  • And for the rare individual that wants more "stuff", a small gift might be appropriate.

So how does this all help with talent management? The goal of recognition is to show appreciation for the efforts of those working for you. By showing appreciation, you tap into the personal inspirations of each employee to stay and do more of what they've already done. This helps you keep the talent(s) you already have on board.


How are you recognize your employees?

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