Rewards & Recognition Are Not Dirty Words

About a year and a half ago I boarded a plane to have dinner with a guy who I was introduced to for potential work with a large event.  I made that leap to spend that money and have that dinner because I believed that it was worth it for me and for my next career steps, or leaps.  I made that leap because I was determined to leave my full time job and do what I felt I am supposed to do with my God given talents, skills and abilities.  

Since that initial meeting we have remained in contact and actually build a friendship of sorts. We have had a few job discussions that just never seemed to align right at the right time.  But that’s not what my blog is about today.  Its about being treated well. 

This chap that I met via colleagues in an airport restaurant nearly 18 months ago offered my family an opportunity to go and see an event that is very near and dear to my heart.  He not only gave us excellent tickets, he provided VIP passes and an extra ticket for my daughter to bring a friend.  He treated us very very well.  And as I stood in the VIP area with free food and drink and warmth I realized that I really like to be treated well.  Part of that is the fact that having the VIP wristband helped all the service personnel treat us well too.  But why did I like it so much?

Well, it made it feel good.  I felt heard and valued.  I felt gratitude and happiness.  I felt seen.   

What if we did that for our teams?  What if our teams felt heard, valued and seen.  When it comes to rewards and recognition is it about money?  I say no.  I say its about encouragement, acknowledgement and endorsement.  

The facts are; I appreciated easy access to the ladies room.  I appreciated the ability to come inside if the weather turned poor.  I appreciated the smiles, the grace and the service.  I appreciated being somewhere not ‘everyone’ got to go and mostly I appreciated the opportunity to have my family treated well because of my willingness to get on a plane for an airport dinner 18 months earlier.  Moments where my daughter’s eyes grew large asking ‘why are we VIPs?” or “You mean its FREE” when she got to have a second glass of pop made me feel so good inside that I swear I felt warmer.  So then it donned on me, not only do I like to be treated well, I also like to treat other people well.  

And maybe our leadership needs to include the opportunity to treat our team well, and then gives them equal opportunity and space to treat each other well.  
It feels good to treat other people well.  It feels good when they are pleasantly surprised and grateful.  Treating people well doesn’t have to mean expensive gifts, feeling good is relative and can be created by experiences which are influenced by simple things like smiles and courtesy or washrooms.  Maybe we just make it easy for people?  Maybe we are just helpful because we can be?  

For Mother’s Day I received an artfully decorated box containing small pieces of paper with hand written words that she said ‘describe me’.  It important to note that I love words.  My words were – kind, awesome, baker, cool, funny, marvellous, amazing, great, helpful and loving.  And just like that I felt good.  And I hope I showed enough gratitude so she could feel good for treating me well.  

Small things, big things, easy things, hard things, experiential things, written things, tactile things, smelly things, tasty things…all things.  Your efforts to encourage, acknowledge, and endorse won’t be wasted.  Look for opportunities, create your culture, base your communications on a serious motivation to treat people well.  And in the moments when it feels thankless, think of one thing one time when someone treated you well and then give a little grace and move on.  
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