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An Interview with #SHRM18 Speaker Barbara Glanz

Barbara Glanz is an author and motivational speaker, with an emphasis on building strong workplaces in our workplace. She is also a 21-year veteran of SHRM conferences. Barbara is also the author 12 books, including The Simple Truths of Service: Inspired by Johnny the Bagger, which she co-wrote with Ken Blanchard.

This year, she is delivering 2 presentations: "Simple Truths of Recognition: Low-Cost or No-Cost Ideas to Keep Employees Engaged", and "Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm - Creating a Culture of Kindness". Today, I'll be spotlighting "Simple Truths of Recognition", and my #SHRMBlogger partner-in-crime Mary Williams (@conmkw) will be talking about "Contagious Enthusiasm". Check out here article here.

KE: What got you interested in the subject of employee appreciation and recognition?

BG: I started as a manager of training, where I did consulting in management and customer service. That job involved training master trainers all over the world. The focus of the course material was always on the external customers. I realized that nobody was paying attention to the internal customer, our employees. Things like their happiness, their level of engagement, etc. Research tells us that how we treat our employees is directly tied to how we will treat our customers.

So in 1995, I started my own company with the goal of helping employers create a fulfilling workplace full of joy. As I started talking with employers who already had this kind of culture, I realized that they had some things in common.

  • They foster creative communication

  • They maintain an atmosphere of appreciation

  • They give their employees a reason for being

  • They foster empathy and enthusiasm

I truly believe that people will give us their best work if they are noticed and appreciated for what they do. The beauty is, appreciation is a free gift; it doesn't have to take long to give, and it usually doesn't cost anything other than making the effort. Basically, it's about conveying to another human being that they are important.

KE: At SHRM18, you're going to share with us 10 Truths of Appreciation. Can you give us a taste of one of them?

BG: In my mind, the most important of these is that appreciation doesn't have to involve something big. It can be as simple as planning something to say to the person about how you value them. It could be a trip to the dollar store, you can find so much for very little money, that you can use to show appreciation.

I remember someone coming up to me at a conference I was speaking at, and sharing a story about something that happened with his team. He was the manager of a sales team that had been under-producing for some time. The last time he saw me speak, he heard me speaking about appreciation, and it gave him an idea. At his next team meeting, he told them that anyone who met their sales goal in the coming quarter, he was going to personally call their mom and tell her how great of a job they did. And you know what, every member of his team met their goal that quarter. His people loved it, and it took very little time to do. The desire to be recognized and appreciated is very powerful.

KE: How can large companies ensure that they are consistently recognizing their people, through all levels of the organization?

BG: At the core, this has to be an individual effort. It can't be a company initiative that is pushed down and uniform. It's about continuing to win people's hearts. But it begins at the top, and it has to be modeled there. Everyone has to know, from watching the leader, that recognition is important.

Bob Danzig, former CEO of Hearst Newspapers, shares a story of something that he did to recognize his team. He told the company's leaders and managers, every time someone does something great, let me know about it. When he was commuting, he would spend his time writing thank you notes to those people. When he retired a few years ago, the thing he heard the most from the people at Hearst was how many people had saved the notes he had given them, even years later.

KE: Can these tools be used with external customers as well?

BG: Absolutely all of these things hold out with our external customers. The thing I love about what I do, these things are completely universal. They apply to every aspect of your life: your work team, your customers, your family, even total strangers.

Whenever I see or get excellent service, I make sure to call it out. This empowers people to think about the importance of every interaction. Is the person a little better because they interacted with you? Publix Supermarkets makes good use of this idea, they tell their team members that they will be better or worse as a company because of each team member. It empowers everyone to make each interaction a good one.

KE: How can a company make a shift to a culture of recognition and appreciation?

BG: Changing anything takes time, especially a company's culture. But changing one interaction at a time can be done today. That's the message of my talk, this isn't a program or initiative. It's a way of life. An individual's spirit will feed the team's spirit. With recognition and appreciation, you get more than you give. It's the joy of watching the person's response to your message. As Mother Theresa instructed us: "Be kind and merciful, that no one ever come to you without coming away better and happier."

Barbara's session "Simple Truths of Recognition" is scheduled on Monday morning at 7am.

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