Monday, April 28, 2014

Finding Recognition Inspiration from the Military

In Geoff Dyer's recent New Yorker article about life on an aircraft carrier, he offers us a great reminder that employee recognition at its most basic is a sincere and personal display of appreciation.

In Shipmates (article subscription required), Dyer follows Captain Brian Luther as he leads an aircraft carrier and a few thousand soldiers during a deployment in the Mediterranean.

One passage in particular captured our feelings that recognition when done properly is public, personal, specific, and rewarding to the recipient. 

We suggest taking a looking at the entire article, but an excerpt is quoted below.

"The next part of his speech was devoted to publicizing the achievements of the Avenger of the Day a member of the crew who had been selected for outstanding work. On this great day, it was a sailor named Stremmel, a lanky twenty-two-year-old whom the Captain invited to sit in the big chair and "drive the boat for a bit." While Stremmel was driving the boat, the Captain explained  on the loudspeaker that Stremmel had volunteered for extra shifts, had done this and that, and was  an outstanding example of freedom at work. Another nice part of this little ritual was that the Avengers got to call home to tell their sweethearts or parents that they were being honored. The Captain's Avenger of the Day ended not with a hierarchical nod of approval but with a democratic "Well done, shipmate!" In that instance, the Captain and Avenger were equals..."

What stands out to us is that the Captain's recognition has the following elements. 

  • Is part of a named program.
  • Is delivered frequently - every day in this case.
  • Is specific. 
  • Is shared and reinforced with a reward - a call home in this case. 

We appreciate everyone who serves and were pleasantly surprised to see HR insight taking such a prominent role in the article.