There are countless reasons to praise others. Most importantly: It’s just the right thing to do. Mary Shirley, co-host of the Great Women in Compliance Podcast, discusses how to be intentional about recognizing staff, even when you’re not in a position of authority.
As the holiday season draws upon many of us, it’s a time to be thankful and show more kindness to those around us by way of extra patience and goodwill. It’s an apt time to recollect and review the year we leave behind: What went well? What could I have done to make it better? And who helped me along the way?
In this spirit, I invite you to “toot the horns” of those around you by identifying the standout achievements of colleagues, the support you received to complete a difficult project or who went out of their way to make your life a little better and a little easier this past year.
When it comes to compensating staff for stellar efforts and results, it can be tempting to think first and foremost about monetary rewards (those bills aren’t going to pay themselves, after all). However, a meta analysis of the correlation between financial compensation and job satisfaction indicates that there is only a small correlation between the two factors. Anecdotally, we know that how we feel about jumping out of bed and heading to the workplace (remote or otherwise) each day takes into account a whole lot of other factors.
Additionally, not all of us are in the position to be able to increase the pay packet of colleagues for various reasons, so peer-to-peer recognition and appreciation becomes key. It can also indirectly lead to better financial outcomes for colleagues.
Why is tooting the horns of colleagues critical?
Research indicates that peer-to-peer recognition can have a number of positive effects for employees and employers alike.
Sean Achor, a thought leader on the science behind happiness, has studied the effects of digital recognition programs in particular. He has found that they have a high return on investment and lead to much higher levels of employee engagement and performance. That makes sense, right? Thankless work has to be much less satisfying than when your efforts are appreciated.
According to a 2015 Gallup survey of German companies, employee burnout can be mitigated and well-being enhanced by the receipt of not-infrequent praise and recognition.
There are countless articles available that make a persuasive case for instilling a culture of recognition in our companies. Let’s turn to how you can play a part in doing that as a compliance leader – whether or not you have positional power.
Ideas for recognition in the workplace
Of course, formal reward and recognition programs are one of the easiest ways to show your gratitude and express thanks to a colleague for a job well done, demonstrating team spirit, personifying company values and so on. Here are additional ways to make someone’s day.
At its simplest, an email or even a text message drawing attention to how someone’s words or actions positively impacted you can have a larger effect than you might expect. This is because it doesn’t often happen in the workplace that someone takes time out of their day to say “I see you, you are phenomenal and this is what you mean to me.”
I know this to be true from my experience co-hosting the Great Women in Compliance podcast with Lisa Fine. Every so often, someone sends us a message about how grateful they are for the podcast, what resonated with them, what they learned… the list goes on. Every single time I receive one of these messages, it stops me in my tracks. Some have brought tears to my eyes (in a touching, positive way), and some have stuck a smile on my face for the rest of the day that no one could wipe off.
Sometimes a quiet notecard left on someone’s desk with sincere thanks will be appropriate, or even in the mail if you want to make it extra special.
For larger demonstrations, a small gift — such as a food item the recipient is obsessed with — always shows additional appreciation, in my opinion.
At other times, more public recognition will be well appreciated: A shout out in a team meeting or your compliance committee meeting is a great way to show appreciation in front of peers. Is there scope to put it on the agenda? Even better. No need to mention the precise details if you’d like it to be a surprise; a line item of “gratitude” or “appreciation” is enough.
My favorite, though? Writing a message to a person’s manager expressing thanks for whatever it is they have done. This was a nice part of the culture at the Commerce Commission in New Zealand (our antitrust regulator), where I had one of my first jobs, and it continues to be something I practice personally. I love this way of expressing gratitude, because managers don’t have complete oversight into all of their employee’s interactions, but they do have the power to be a sponsor and heavily influence the individual’s internal career path (and sometimes their external career path as well).
This, right now, is the perfect time to write these notes of appreciation to managers of colleagues who have knocked your socks off; many of us will undergo our annual performance review soon, if they’re not already taking place. It is so much easier for staff to give weight to their own self-assessment – that they did, in fact, do pretty well this year – when an objective stakeholder chimes in with corroborating evidence.
Please think beyond your compliance colleagues also. Who in your sales team has really been a great business partner and helped you influence others? Which corporate functions have been so easy to deal with you don’t even know what the word bureaucracy means anymore? This is what I meant when I referred to indirectly affecting financial outcomes earlier; when you help someone deserving with a positive performance review, you increase their chances of financial recognition through official channels.
Above all else, it’s the right thing to do. If someone has done you a good turn, don’t forget to acknowledge it. So, go ahead, get out there and toot some horns!