How recognition — when done correctly — can make all the difference.
In the family entertainment industry, most of us firmly believe that we’re in the “day-making” business and that it’s our job to help people build lasting memories and stronger relationships. If you think about it, each memory that we help create isn’t the sum of every little detail of a guest’s time with us, but rather, some high point, feeling or interaction makes a difference to that person. A moment like this becomes a perfect snapshot in someone’s mind.
According to Dan Heath, professor and co-author of The Power of Moments: Why Some Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, creating positive experiences comes down to creating meaningful moments — and it’s everyone’s job.
If creating magic moments is everyone’s job, where should we start? This goes back to your leadership style and the way you treat team members. As Richard Branson is famous for saying, “take care of your [team members], and they’ll take care of your customers.” One major way to ensure that you’re creating lasting positive moments is through team member recognition.
What is team member recognition?
Team member recognition is the act of formally or informally acknowledging and showing appreciation for a team member’s actions or behavior. For it to be effective, it must be sincere, timely and without any “strings” attached. It’s not always about the money, either. In fact, a recent article in Harvard Business Review shared that while money can be a motivator, there are many other types of recognition that can create better, more meaningful moments for team members, such as thoughtful gifts, time off or the ability to choose one’s schedule or assignments. And when your people feel appreciated, your business wins.
How does member recognition impact your business?
You might be wondering how recognizing your team members will benefit you and your organization. There is new behavioral science research every year that supports the power of recognition. Here are just a few of the benefits:
- Less team member turnover. Turnover amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars lost by companies every year and 66% of people say they would leave their jobs if they felt underappreciated. In fact, in millennial workers (your shift leaders and new managers), this number could be as high as 76%.
- Fewer call outs. Every single day on social media I see people complaining about hating their job, their boss, their customers and dreading going into work. People who are happy at work simply don’t call in sick because they feel like they’re part of a team doing meaningful work with people they respect.
- More effective teamwork. If your staff experiences gossip, an “us vs. them” mentality or team members that don’t want to work with each other, look for your fingerprints. It could be that you or a leader on your team is succumbing to one of the leadership pitfalls. Seeking out to recognize those positive moments that staff is creating for guests or each other will help you recognize your team and the more you look the more you’ll find. Plus, being engaged with your team will help you manage performance overall (theirs and yours!) better.
- Happier guests. When your team is happy, they behave differently at work. They will smile more, interact better and be more likely to use creativity when solving problems. This has a direct impact on the service that your guests receive.
- Increased revenue. Happier guests mean they visit more often, stay longer, play longer and spend more money. And, the more engaged your team is, the more willing they’ll be to interact and engage, which results in more upsells and increased per capita spending.
My team knows I appreciate them, I don’t need to do more than I’m doing now.
If your business is operating at its full potential, you may not need to put any more focus on recognition. But one of the challenges leaders often face, according to a recent podcast featuring Dan Heath, is a recognition gap. When a group of leaders was asked, “do you recognize your direct reports?” the answer was a resounding “yes.” But when the direct reports were asked, “does your manager recognize you for the work that you do?” only 20% said they felt appreciated for their work. The bottom line is, you probably could be doing more of the right kind of recognizing.
Okay, you’ve convinced me! How do I make recognition part of my culture?
The best recognition is done timely, often and sincerely. Seek to find ways every week or every day to praise team members for the actions and behaviors that make a difference in your facility. I’m often asked about what kind of behaviors should be praised and my answer is simple: recognize any behavior you wish to see again. When it comes to recognition, personalization is the name of the game because people are motivated by different things. The better you know your team members, the easier it is to provide them with the most meaningful recognition.
One way for you to understand how your team members are motivated is to study their personality types. By understanding your team members’ individual profiles, you’ll be able to see how they like to receive information and feedback; if they like to work in groups vs. alone, how they react to stress and more. There are many personality tests online, from Myers Briggs to NERIS to DISC to name a few. In fact, FEC guest experience expert Frank Price argues that you should “ferret out personality” to staff your facility right from the start and offers an FEC specific assessment and profile that could help you get started.
Aubrey Daniels, in his book, Bringing out the Best in People, recommends observing your team members as a way to perceive how they interact with each other, what makes them happy at work and how to encourage them. He recommends that you try different motivational tactics and observe which ones seem to have lasting impact. What I have found is that managers often try to motivate and incentivize others in the way they, themselves, would like to be motivated. The risk there is that you could actually demotivate your team by suggesting that you either don’t care about what’s important to them or don’t care to find out.
Finally, if you are still wondering what will motivate your team, you can simply ask them. Short questionnaires can be a great way to learn what makes people tick. Keep them brief, informal and fun. Ask general questions like their favorite candy, a charity they admire or support and hobbies and interests. Also ask some specific questions, such as which reward for great work they might prefer: being able to choose their schedule for a week or getting to work on a special project, for example. The possibilities are endless.
How do you recognize your team members for the great moments that they create? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
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