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How To Do Employee Recognition The Right Way (with Tom Short from Kudos)

Have you ever told an employee “good job!” without explaining why? Well, this is an example of how not to give recognition! Tim Reitsma and Tom Short, Founder and CCO at Kudos—a leading employee recognition and engagement platform—dive into how to recognize people’s work the right way.

Interview Highlights

  • At Kudos, they have developed an employee engagement solution that helps drive performance, as well as improving morale and reducing things, like voluntary turnover. Kudos really is a platform where everyone can connect, communicate, and celebrate all the wonderful things that are going on at their organizations. [1:13]

“We’re changing the world one ‘thank you’ at a time.” — Tom Short

  • It’s about recognizing the little things, the nice things people do, or the positive behaviors they demonstrate and that will lead to more of those behaviors and more of those characteristics or qualities being exhibited. [2:59]
  • Tom recommends a book called Leading with the Heart by Mike Krzyzewski. [4:37]
  • Tom mentions a tool that they’ve been using called Cloverleaf. [6:01]
  • Tom also recommends a book called The Core Value Equation by Darius Mirshahzadeh. It highlights that if you’re making decisions based on your core values, making decisions on hiring people through your core values, making decisions on promoting people through your core values, it will help you stay on course and be more true to yourself. [7:15]

“Our internal mission is to help individuals lead a more happy and purposeful life through the power of appreciation and recognition.” — Tom Short

  • Rewards and recognition couldn’t be more different. People love rewards, but it’s fleeting. It’s very short-lived and it can even be counterproductive, because if everyone doesn’t have equal access to winning the award, or if they don’t believe they can achieve something to receive that reward, they’ll give up. [10:14]
  • Rewards have their place for certain things like incentives, gamification, contests, but you have to make sure that they’re fair, equal, and commiserate to the effort that you’re asking people to put in on something. [11:36]
  • Recognition is something that you should live every day. Recognition can reinforce values, increase dialogue/communication, and help people lean into the culture. [11:54]

“A lot of folks concentrate too much on why people leave, what they should be concentrating on is why would someone stay.” — Tom Short

  • To improve your culture, the easiest thing you can do is to look at an opportunity to reinforce your core values on a regular basis, and to open up the dialogue and communication through a social system where there’s more transparency, there’s more trust. [13:49]
  • As a leader, you have to hold people accountable as well. Help them understand what their role is, give them the tools they need to be successful, and then give them the support that we all need to move in the right direction. [17:41]
  • Look for opportunities to recognize, and time block to ensure you are able to do it. Add recognition to team meetings and recognize people for how they are living the values, and for being a team player. [19:22]
  • Having a system helps create consistency and transparency, because without a system, one manager could be completely doing it differently than another manager, and employees could be having totally different experiences within the organization than other employees. [21:55]

Meet Our Guest

Tom Short is the founder and Chief Customer Officer at Kudos®. Over the course of 25 years, Tom has used his passion for entrepreneurship and marketing to found several successful companies. At each organization Tom has built, employee experience has been the cornerstone to building effective teams. He brings this expertise in corporate culture and team motivation to Kudos®. Tom is active in speaking engagements and thought leadership activities in the HR industry. He is passionate about the role recognition plays in creating a great employee experience and is dedicated to educating the world about what genuine recognition can do for people everywhere.

photo of tom short

“The job of any leader is to make everyone that’s around them better.” — Tom Short

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Read The Transcript:

We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.

Tom Short

Recognition is something that you should live every day and, you know, create a culture of appreciation, because all people really want to know is, are they seen? Is my work valued? And do I belong? And if you can create that more inclusive environment and you can demonstrate that you are really taking interest in your team members you’re going to get much more involvement. 

Tim Reitsma

Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. We’re on a mission to build a better world of work and to help you build happy, productive workplaces. I’m your host, Tim Reitsma. And today I’m joined by Tom Short, Founder and CCO at Kudos, a leading employee recognition and engagement platform. 

Let me ask you a question: when was the last time you’ve recognized someone? And no, it’s not simply saying “thank you” to anyone and everyone. Recognition is about helping us feel valued, appreciated, seen, and heard. So, have a listen to this episode and get ready to learn how to do recognition the right way.

Well, welcome Tom to the podcast. It’s so good to have you here. And, you know, I’ve been following what you’re up to at Kudos and really inspired by the work that you are doing. And it really relates well to this conversation today about employee recognition. 

So, welcome again to the podcast. 

Tom Short

I really appreciate you having me on the show.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. And so before we get into it, I always like to ask my guests a couple of, kind of my standard scripted questions, if you will. But yeah. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’re up to? 

Tom Short

Kudos you know, we’ve developed an employee engagement solution that helps drive performance, as well as improving morale and reducing things like voluntary turnover.

So that through the simple power of a thank you, it seems so obvious, but sometimes the things that are most simple and obvious, aren’t that obvious to many. And so Kudos really is a platform where everyone can connect, communicate, and celebrate all the wonderful things that are going on at their organizations. Reinforcing their core values and engaging their team members by allowing everyone to be empowered, to send recognition through our peer-to-peer recognition solution.

And we’d like to say, we’re changing the world one “thank you” at a time. And we’re currently in 80 countries and 11 languages around the world, and I think we’re on track to, achieve our goals. 

Tim Reitsma

Oh, it’s fantastic. And, like you said, you know, that simple “thank you”. And I know recognition, you know, sometimes is a little bit more than that, but man, just the power of a “thank you” and a genuine “thank you”.

Not just a quick “thanks” out of the corner of your eye, but. 

Tom Short

So it’s like, but it’s about taking a moment to write something and do something a little bit more earnest and sincere. And most people will do that, like, you know, obviously saying thank you, you know, please and thank you, and showing your appreciation in any manner is always good.

But when people just go that little bit of extra, you know, at length to say, Hey Tim, thank you very much for inviting me to your podcast. You know, it it was really enlightening and I learned a ton and I was really happy to share my message with everyone. You know, I really appreciate it. 

You know, just adding that little bit of extra thought to it can make all the difference in the world to make someone’s day and to also, you know, help them, improve in their performance. Because it’s about recognizing the little things, the nice things people do or the positive behaviors they demonstrate and that will lead to more of those behaviors and more of those characteristics or qualities being exhibited.

You know, it’s just like conditional, behavioral formatting by, you know, just recognizing people for these things. And next thing you know, they’re, you know, they’re doing more of it and everyone’s happier. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, that’s the goal is to create happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. It’s a good kind of lead into my next question, which is — what does it mean to be a leader? 

Tom Short

Well, I think the job of any leader is to make everyone that’s around them better. And, you know, and it’s the little things that leaders can do to bring that positive energy to get everyone excited about.

You know, what you’re working on or what they’re working on and also to give them, you know that direction and support to help them achieve their goals, because if they achieve their goals, you’ll achieve your goals. And so it really is just about making people around you better, and to demonstrate that you value their contributions and to invest your time in them.

And that is what really would make a good leader. That would be somebody that I would want to work with. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, a couple of key takeaways there is it make everyone better. Sounds easy or could sound hard, but you know, it’s investing the time, right? It’s not just saying here’s your to-do list, go do it.

But investing the time and coaching and teaching and then giving that recognition on the backend, for sure. 

Tom Short

Absolutely. Like, I mean, you go back to some of the great old books, like Leading with the Heart by Mike Krzyzewski, one of the best basketball coaches of all time. You know, it’s about showing you care and it’s like that silly little statement.

People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. That culture of care. I’ve been doing some reading around that, you know, how to actually create a culture of care. And, you know, it’s not a necessarily an easy thing to just go to your leadership team and say, Hey, we now need to have a culture of care, go.

It’s a lot more, and it’s a lot deeper than that. 

Tom Short

Yeah. It goes back to your personal core values. Like a lot of people will set up scenarios and say, I have these aspirational values. I want to improve myself or be like this, you know, and that’s fine, but you should really start by doing a self-examination of saying, but what are my core values today?

What makes me? And then by playing to those strengths and, you know, and living to your core values will make being a leader a lot easier than, cause it needs to be authentic. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. Taking that time to, to really identify what those core values are. We all have them. 

Tom Short

Oh, yeah. Everyone has them. Now, and there’s lots of programs out there where you can actually, you know, take an assessment just to kind of get a better understanding. There’s this product called Cloverleaf we’ve been using and it is uncanny. And when it sends you tips based on all the information you plug into it, just answering their questions and it is unbelievable how accurate it is when it says, here’s a coaching tip for you, to and how you should work with Tim.

And here’s what Tim really likes, or how Tim would, you know, really respond well to you know, to your leadership. And it almost like you’re looking over your shoulder going, is somebody watching me? This is too accurate. 

Tim Reitsma

Wow. Okay. I’m going to have to check that out right after this recording.

For those who are listening Tom had mentioned Cloverleaf. I haven’t used it but I am extremely intrigued about the tool and, and about the software. But, yeah, there are a lot of different assessments out there and coaches out there that will help you identify. But I think that is, that’s the core.

And maybe we’ve already touched on this a little bit, but a question that I’m often intrigued about is — how can we build a better world of work? What do we need to do to build a better world of work?

Tom Short

Lot of different things that you need focus on. And, but I would come back to, you know, not only your individual core values, but what are your company’s core values? And another great book that I’ve recently read that I would recommend is The Core Value Equation. And it really highlights that if you or, you making decisions based on your core values, making decisions on hiring people through your core values, making decisions on promoting people through your core values, and it’ll just help you stay on course and be more true to yourself. 

And organizations that start at that point, just like Simon Sinek and other individuals where they, you start with your why, then you go to your how, and then you go to your what.

And a lot of people start with their what, like we sell computers, but why do you sell computers? And it’s that mission and coming back full circle to Kudos, you know, our Mission, in a more of a marketing publicity way of changing the world, one “thank you” at a time resonates with our team members. But our internal mission is to help individuals lead a more happy and purposeful life through the power of appreciation and recognition.

And because, you know, if you’re happier at work, you’ll be happier at home and you’ll be happy in your life. And so can you, can we help people reach their full potential through a simple thing, like a thank you? And so when we have that as our mission and then align that to our core values, that’s something that our team can really lean into.

And that’s the start of creating a great company. And it doesn’t matter what you sell. You could be a law firm, you could be an engineering firm, you could be a winery, you could be a software product like Kudos, but you have to really, you know, take that good hard look at yourself and figure out what you’re about and why people should care.

And then be true to your, to yourself and stay the course because that say, do dilemma where peoples, you know, you’re saying one thing, but you completely do something different. Then you’ll start to see, you know, organizations have a little bit of, you know, edges will start to frazzle on it and it’s not going to reach the potential it could, if you were more true to yourself and your core values. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. It’s, it’s, you got to start at the foundation. How do we build a better world to work has, is look at, you know, why do you exist? What are you doing? And how are we going to do this? I think, and not just writing it on a, on your About Us page, but having it front and center, every meeting, talking about the values, recognizing the values, recognizing people for their contribution to the values and yeah.

And that’s a good segue into our topic today about employee recognition. And in prepping for this episode, you know, there’s conversation that I’ve been reading around, well, recognition is the same as rewards. Or, you know, Hey, how we recognize somebody is just, well, just give somebody a, you know, a $10 gift card to their favorite coffee shop.

What’s the difference between recognition, rewards, or are they actually the same? 

Tom Short

Good question and they couldn’t be more different. Now, people love rewards. They appreciate rewards, cause it’s nice to get something, but it’s fleeting. And it’s usually a scenario where you’re going to have a very short memory or if you’re setting up as a contest or promotion and saying, have to drive, you know, motivation to achieve a particular goal. 

It’s very short-lived and it can even be counterproductive because if everyone that doesn’t have equal access to winning the award, or if they don’t believe they can achieve something to receive that reward, they’ll give up. And so it’s really, you know, kind of a knee jerk reaction to say, you know, if I want to motivate my team members, or if I want to try to achieve a specific goal, you know, I’ll just set up this carrot or I’ll give this reward. 

But rewards end up becoming entitlements, and then it always costs more to use a mechanism like that to get the same output or results than you did previously. If you back it up to pure recognition, you know, using recognition, it’s going to be more honest.

It’s going to be a more long lasting. And it’s something that should be, that everyone can participate in. So you’re not leaving anyone out and you can even empower your team to be part of that mechanism to encourage people. So, you know, rewards have their place for certain things like incentives, gamification, contests, you know, but you have to make sure that they’re fair, equal, and commiserate to the effort that you’re asking people to put in on something. 

But they’re, they should be used lightly. And and in the right situations, whereas recognition is something that you should live every day and, you know, create a culture of appreciation because all people really want to know is, are they seen Is my work valued? And, do I belong?

And if you can create that more inclusive environment and you can demonstrate that you are really taking interest in your team members you’re going to get much more involvement. Like it was funny when people think that people leave for money, but they leave companies usually for their managers or the work environment and other items.

But sometimes people will leave for career advancement and other opportunities. And so a lot of folks concentrate too much on why people leave, what they should be concentrating on is why would someone stay. And that’s when you get into learning and development, the opportunity to advance your career, the work environment. Am I appreciated?

Am I valued? You know, does my manager take an interest in me and helping me develop my career when all those things start to line up and all of those can be, you know, heavily involved in a recognition moment. You know, then you’re going to have a stronger, more resilient team that won’t be coaxed away by someone just offering them more money.

Tim Reitsma

I love what you said about us people, employees, humans want to be seen, valued, and belong. And the power of that simple recognition, that simple “thank you”, that simple “I see you, I hear you, I appreciate you” has so much power in our organizations. So if we don’t have a culture of that type of appreciation, how do we drive a culture change?

How do we shift into that right way to do employee recognition? 

Tom Short

Absolutely. Well, you know, it starts from the top, and it starts at your “why” and then once senior leadership leans into it to say, you know, we need to improve our culture. And to improve our culture, the easiest thing you can do is to look at an opportunity to reinforce your core values on a regular basis, and to open up the dialogue and communication through a social system where there’s more transparency, there’s more trust.

And there’s more empowerment for your whole team to lean into your culture and appreciate one another and live the core values every day. And you just need to celebrate it. And then little things that can be done is, you know, working in rituals or atomic habits that will, you know, move you in the right direction.

You can’t do it all overnight. You just need to commit to it and then start doing the little things that will lead to the large outcomes, such as you know, time blocking to write notes of appreciation to somebody, you know, and to your team. You know, starting meetings off with, you know, celebrating a moment of excellence or highlighting what somebody did really well to, you know, having a system like Kudos that makes it totally visible and transparent and accessible to everyone.

Because if I’m just recognizing you, the only two people that know about it is you and I. But if you have a system that can amplify that, you know, that becomes a multiplying factor where everyone’s participating in it. That’s where you can get to that more systemic, consistent, culture that you desire, by you know, putting in those little practices along the way.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. I’ve been involved in company cultures where you know where you’re moving at lightning speed. And you know, at the end of the year, you see, while we cheat a lot, but maybe you’re exhausted and feeling like, well, I’ve put in a lot of effort and I can speak for myself just hearing that, that great job, being recognized. My team also craves that. And I know that because we were talking about a team-building event and we’re scattered across multiple time zones. And an idea was, Hey, why don’t we just have a recognition ceremony amongst our team? Just all get on zoom or on, on our online meeting.

And again we’re very odd time zones and but let’s just pick, you know, for everybody in the team, everyone we’ll go around the room and why we appreciate somebody. Not just, Hey, thanks for your hard work. You know, that’s like almost in, in my opinion, could be an empty statement. You know, let’s go deeper than that.

Tom Short

You know that’s a great practice. Like it might not have to be done all the time, but when you have a team retreat or a quarterly, you know, kind of planning meetings, you know, having some time dedicated to what do you value about the company or, you know, who on the team has done something that you want to, you know, highlight, for how it helped us achieve our goals or made working here even better.

And, you know, when people start to share those types of things, it it’s quite powerful because you know, that’s the glue that keeps a team together and makes people want to stay, if it feels a bit more like a family in that way. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. And I think it’s a, at least in my opinion, it’s such a close tie to the employee experience.

So, you know, when we think of it from that employee experience perspective, rather than, oh, I’m a leader and I gave everybody recognition this week. So pat me on my back, it ties with that employee experience. So when you look at it through that lens of that employee experience, what are some key things that we should be paying attention to as leaders?

Tom Short

Well, you do need to, you know, use active listening and, you know, seek to understand what people are doing and asking you or, communicating to you both verbally and non-verbally. And from there, you’ll hold people accountable as well. And like, you know, help them understand what their role is, give them the tools they need to be successful, and then give them the support that we all need to, you know, move in the right direction.

But also hold people accountable to, you know, to the goals that they state for themselves or that you outline as a team. Because it’s not all about just being, you know, making everything easy and soft for people, you know, even that doesn’t engage people will leave organizations that are too squishy that way.

But if you have an organization that just always helping you become better, you know, celebrating you when you make those advancements and achievements through just as simple acknowledgment of doing a great job. You know, those are the types of organizations and the, that, you know, will succeed at the end of the day, and be more profitable leaders in their categories.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, I can imagine somebody listening to the podcast might think, well, it’s too squishy. As you’ve mentioned, recognition, wealth, if I just have to go around, you know, my, my office or virtual office or on Slack, just saying thank you to everybody all the time. Does that then drive an adverse culture? Or does that, you know, is that actually adding to the culture?

If it’s like, oh, I just have to check it off my list. 

Tom Short

It still just needs to be honest, right? Yeah. Now, if you do it, like people will see if you’re fake about it in a heartbeat, and that will be counterproductive. But if you are honest and earnest about it, you know, it will resonate and it will, you know, take you in the right direction.

So need to be thoughtful. You just need to be on the lookout for it because a lot of us just get so busy with what we’re doing. You know, and the day goes by and you forgot to, you know, to say thank you to somebody or to acknowledge something that you wanted to do. So again, little habits, like time blocking, you know, making sure that, you know, even when you’re preparing for a meeting, that’s one of the items that you, that you want to list on your things to talk about, which would be, you know, what is Tim done recently that deserves a, you know, praise or recognition that you want to acknowledge? 

From contributions to living the core value as well to, you know, just being a great team player. Because everyone’s doing things all the time and when, and by giving people recognition it also becomes teachable moments for everyone else at the same time.

So that, if you want to, you know, drive a culture of appreciation, you know, just by, you know, giving people appreciation and making it public, you’ll start to see other people start to follow soon. Then it becomes a snowball effect where it just gets better and better because you see everyone’s starting to live that core value as well.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah it’s important in my opinion as well, just that teachable moment, make it public, put it up on display. I’ve worked at a company where we didn’t have a piece of technology. We just had pieces of paper with our core values written on it. And you put somebody’s name on it and you write a little check box beside the value and you know, what have they done?

What has somebody done, to live that value? And you know, that’s just simplest, at its simplest, in a way of recognition. And often it would be, oh, wow, I got, I got recognized. So it would almost be a surprise. So it was a little, you know, sometimes a little strange, you reading it off a little piece of paper, and sometimes you didn’t even know who wrote it.

And but it’s that, but, you know, that’s one way to do it, but to take it that next level having, you know, even writing it down through your Slack or whatever you’re doing, but pick up the phone. You know, hop on a quick call and letting somebody know, but then follow up with that public recognition, I think goes a long ways, and yeah. 

Tom Short

It’s huge. It’s, you know, and it’s, again, just one of the, you know, simple things that we can all do, but we often forget to do. And you know, you just need to, you know, find a way to make it part of your normal operating routine. And yeah, and again, having a system helps create that, that consistency you know, and that reach and that transparency, because without a system, you know, one manager could be completely doing it different than another manager and different employees could be having totally different experiences within the organization than other employees.

So, without a system it’s kind of chaos. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. I’m really curious. Have you seen recognition done well at an organization? Or on the flip side, have you seen it not done so well at an organization? Any examples come to mind through your journey at Kudos or in the reading you’ve done around recognition?

Tom Short

There are tons of organizations that we work with that do it very well. And, they’re not always perfect, but they’re committed to it and that’s more important than anything else. And you know, they created, you know, an atmosphere of trust and transparency an appreciation by demonstrating it themselves. 

Having, you know, town halls and, you know, larger acknowledgment to people who’ve made major contributions, but also consistent acknowledgment of those making a small and valuable contribution on a daily basis. And you know, so it will vary by organizations.

One of the larger groups that we’ve worked with for the last several years, a group called MTN out of Africa. They’re a large telecom out of Africa, about 20,000 plus people on the system. And they did have an issue of turnover and low morale. And they just made a firm commitment that, you know, they were going to make a change and they rolled out their program, which they called Shine, cause they want everyone to shine. 

And over the last five years, they’ve seen their voluntary turnover decrease year over year as their net promoter scores go up year over year, their senior leadership participates in the, in this system. And they also have various events and awards ceremonies to celebrate the people who are doing a great job.

And they’ve even gone so far that they work at every aspect of their culture where their corporate color is yellow, and every time they answer the phone, they go “yellow”. So it’s just things like that, that, you know, really start to build it into the fabric. But also smaller organizations, as well and even in their case, they’ve been able to, you know, be listed on the Forbes best employers for global companies for the last couple of years. 

And in smaller companies are seeing the same thing too where, you know, they actually have, you know, put in a program like Kudos. One that comes to mind is Telarus out of Utah and they’ve seen an increase in performance and sales that correspond directly with the amount of recognition that’s being given.

And then they’ve worked in other programs and multithreaded their cultural elements through communication, team events, products like, you know, Kudos and it’s all helped them achieve their goals of, you know, driving growth, you know, retention of their employees, improve net promoter scores.

And they too, also were acknowledged by Inc Magazine as one of the top places to work in their category. So, you know, it really works when you lean into it. And there’s bad examples too, where, you know, you see very toxic environments, and you know, like Uber comes to mind. You know, and with the DB and the TV show or, you know, where we work and elements like that, where leadership kind of runs a mock and they’ve set a bad tone and it becomes a very toxic culture.

And people don’t feel valued or appreciated. So, it’s easy to go bad real quick if you’re not paying attention to, you know, the little things that will make your organization a success. 

Tim Reitsma

That’s a brilliant little outcome, little nugget that I’m taking away is just when we recognize people feel valued and appreciated.

You know, I’m raising two kids right now and they’re quite small. And if all I do all day is just send them orders and tell them how, you know, messy their rooms are and they don’t could do a good enough job. I know, I see an impact on them. And I have to always remind myself, not always, but every… 

Tom Short

They’ll probably try to avoid you.

Tim Reitsma

Exactly. They’re just like, oh, dad’s coming home. I better clean my room or I better put my stuff away, but it’s just taking that time, looking them in the eye and saying, thank you for whatever you’re doing. You know, thank you for X. Thank you for Y. And you know, even as recently is, you know, they didn’t want to go for a walk after dinner.

I wanted to go for a walk and I drag, drag them out. And I looked at them and said, and we had a lot of fun. And I said, thank you. Thank you. I needed that. Thank you so much for for coming along and I appreciated that. And it’s just those little things. It doesn’t have to be big. 

Tom Short

Yeah. Like, you know, that’s a great example.

Like if you can tell your kids to do something, like take out the garbage, you know, clean your room, those types of things. And then you start to kind of, you know, there can be a negative consequence. Like you don’t get your allowance or there’s no negative consequence, but you’re just continually asking them to do something.

It kind of becomes nagging. But once they do it, then you would say, Hey, thank you very much for keeping your room clean, you know, and I really appreciate it because you know, it’s going to make, you know, the house look really nice when guests come over or whatever the case might be.

But if you give them a reason while they’re doing it and you thank them as well for doing it and every time they do it you thank them. It’ll become a habit that versus having to nag them to do it. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. If, if all we focus on is the negative in work and in life, then we’re, honestly, we’re going to create that culture of fear.

We’re going to create a culture of mistrust, distrust, and fear. If that’s all we focus on is, you’re not doing a good enough job. And maybe in some cases, people aren’t doing a good job and don’t deserve that recognition. And you know, that’s a whole other conversation for another episode, but if we create that culture of recognizing people for the contributions they’re doing to our organizations, like without our people, we’re not creating profit, we’re not creating impact.

We’re not creating a difference in the world. We’re not building a better world of work, if we are treating our employees just like, you know, a number on a spreadsheet. We got to move past that. 

Tom Short

Well, you and with the great resignation you know, the amount of people who are checking out and re-evaluating, do they really want to do something, you know, for the quality of life and what they’re getting out of it. You know, companies have to pay more attention to, you know, how they treat their people, because the people don’t need that business, but you need the people, right?

And so if you want to keep the best and attract the best you need to lean in and treat them right.

Tim Reitsma

Absolutely. So for anyone who’s listening as is for wrap up our conversation, anyone who’s listening, maybe they’re taking transit on the way to work or on the way home from work or wherever you are.

What is one thing someone can do today? A leader, whether you’re an HR or leading a team. What’s one thing that you can do today to start going down the path of creating a meaningful recognition platform in your workplace? 

Tom Short

Well, I, you evaluate what you’re doing currently. In that regard, are you relying too heavily on, you know, antiquated, outdated programs that are maybe reward-centric which reach very few people and very few people can attain? You know, you’re leaving people out. 

So evaluate, you know, is that the right solution? And is that where you be, should be spending your, investing your time and your money and then, look at the small little practices and rituals that you’re doing on a daily basis. And see if you can start to weave in elements of appreciation.

You know, and, and if you can just start with a simple, thank you and an individual HR professional, or a CEO or a leader can do that quite easily and start tomorrow. Just, you know, say thank you to one of your peers or to one of your teammates and really acknowledge the contributions they’re making.

And you’ll be blown away at the reaction you get, you know, from that individual. Now I remember once we were on a sales trip to, yeah, we’re in the London and we stopped for dinner and I had a little Kudos card with me and I gave it to our waiter who had done a great job to say, “thank you, that was exceptional”.

And it had a little gift card in it as well. So rewards do sometimes make a difference. And I just said, I wanted to give this to you and say, you did a great job. In addition to the tip that we had provided. And then I reached out and I gave him another one and he said, what’s this for? And I said, you know, I want you to go forward and, you know, give it to somebody that’s done something really nice for you.

And he went, oh, wow. And he really thought about it. And he looked at me and he says, can I give it to my wife? And I’m like, absolutely. Give it to your wife. That’s awesome. And so little things like that can make a big difference and it really made an impact to that gentlemen, because no one had ever stopped to say, besides giving them a tip that you’d done a really great job. And nobody ever made stopped to make him think, who would you recognize if you had the opportunity. And that also impacted him in a very positive way.

Tim Reitsma

I love that little story that just honestly gave me some goosebumps. And it’s just something that is so simple yet we forget, but it has so much impact. And as we wrap up, it’s again, it helps people, it helps us all feel valued, appreciated, but also be seen and heard. You know, we’re in this async world, we’re in this hybrid, remote. I’m sitting in my home office, you’re sitting in your home office and, you know, often, at least my feeling is we’re not being seen.

We’re not being heard. And, you know, I would, don’t encourage leaders to just now go to your Slack channels and just write, “thank you”. Copy-paste that into every single employee, it’s, you know, drive that impact home. If you’re going to say “thank you”, if you’re going to recognize somebody, you know, recognize somebody for the value they’re adding to your organization, to your team. You know, something that they have done, to impact you and your business. And, you know, and it does reciprocate throughout the organization and it’s, but it’s got to start from the top like you said, Tom, and that culture change.

Tom Short

Absolutely. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. So on that note, I really want to say I appreciate you and appreciate your insights and thank you for coming on to the People Managing People podcast. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation and, you know, I couldn’t agree more that, you know, we need to be pushing this more and more in our cultures. 

Tom Short

You bet. Well, we’ve done our job of just one person that listens to this podcast, takes it to heart and tries to make a difference at their organization by focusing on creating a culture of appreciation, and then they’ll see the benefits of their business blossoming because of that. 

Tim Reitsma

Absolutely. And for those who are listening, we’ll include Tom’s LinkedIn in the show notes, as well as the link to Kudos.

And as always, we’d love to hear your feedback on this episode. So if you do have any thoughts, insights, please let me know. You can reach me through LinkedIn or through my email at tim@peoplemanagingpeople.com and you know, we’re always looking for ways to improve. And if there’s topics that you’d like to hear, let us know.

So with that, Tom, thanks again for coming on, and have a great rest to your day. 

Tom Short

You too, Tim. Thank you. Appreciate it.