Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Difference between Cheesy Awards & Awards Employees want to Receive

20 Dec
by Bridget DiCello

Have you ever been given a plaque, certificate or trophy that you were very proud to receive?  Have you ever received an award that meant very little?  What was the difference?

How to give awards that will have an impact:

1.      Tie them to business results that matter.  Do you give a Perfect Attendance Award?  Could the worst employee receive the award if they just showed up every day – even if they did crappy work, annoyed their coworkers and trashed the company on a regular basis?  In some industries, attendance is extremely important and this award might make sense, but take the time to determine the business results you most want to reward.  These might be components of the company vision or mission, or themes of the yearly goals.

2.      Use criteria other than popular vote or owner choice.  When you ask for nominations for a particular award, ask for specific examples or reasons for the nomination.  Ask the nominator to share a mini story about why this person deserves the “Employee of the Year” award, for example.  Use the business results you determined above to ask for comments in those particular areas.  Once you gather the nominations, the number of votes is not as important as the content of the stories and examples.  Regardless of who is chosen to receive the award, make sure all the nominations get back to the employee so they can read the nice things everyone has said about them.  Send them home in a thank you note so they can open it in front of their family.

3.      Deliver the award with a bit of a “wow”.  Share some comments from the nominations, add your own specifics, keep the suspense about who is receiving the award while you describe it, have a drum roll, and gather as many people as possible, including some key leaders.

4.      Give them something cool to walk home with.  Certificates and plaques are okay, but I’ve seen some really interesting award “trophies,” whether it be something useful or something pleasant to display.

Before you hand out those awards this year, check them against these criteria to see if they will be seen as cheesy or as sincerely appreciated.  What else do you do to make your awards more impactful?

Getting out of a Conversation

14 Dec
by Bridget DiCello

This is certainly the time of year for parties, events and gatherings!  And while it’s good fun to visit with friends and family, in the business setting, the professional who attends a good deal of events probably does so with a business agenda in mind.  While still enjoyable, the event also turns into an opportunity to build current relationships, initiate new connections and discuss business opportunities.

When you wish to accomplish those objectives, getting “stuck” in a non-strategic conversation can be a problem.  Just like making sure you don’t miss anyone on your Christmas card list, it’s important to make sure you see all those people important to your success this time of year.

Why do we get “stuck”?

§ There are a lot of people who are not good at getting into conversations, so they don’t want to leave the security of the one they are in.
If this is you…get out there, make eye contact, shake a hand, go get food or drink – but get comfortable getting into conversations.

§ Maybe the person with whom you are speaking does not think you have learned enough about them and their company yet!
If this is you, this is a major networking mistake.  Ask more questions about the other person to build a relationship.  Talk less and you will be considered much more interesting.

§ The person who you are speaking with is not there to make multiple connections, just to socialize.
If this is you, more power to you – enjoy yourself, but also open the door for the other person to leave if they are looking for more concrete results from their attendance at events.

§ You don’t want to hurt their feelings by cutting off what they are saying.
If this is you, realize that many people will speak to fill the silence, and may be relieved if you end the conversation.


How can you politely get out of a conversation?

§ Start with a thank you such as:
It was good talking to you…
I’ve enjoyed our conversation…
I was surprised to learn (something you learned about them…)
I hope your (vacation, business venture, event they mentioned) goes well…

§ And finish the sentence with something that says you are thinking about them.
I will let you go mingle and meet some more of the attendees.
I’d like you to meet… (Identify someone you want to introduce them to and take them there.)

§ Or finish the sentence with something you need to do.
I’m going to go try that delicious looking food.
I’m going to go get myself something to drink.
If you’ll excuse me, I see someone I need to catch up with.

There is no requirement that you stay in a conversation for as long as it can possibly last.  Especially in a business setting, most people have objectives in their head for what they’d like to accomplish.

Have you ever felt “stuck” in a conversation?

Keeping their Minds on Work

07 Dec
by Bridget DiCello

With parties, cookies, Christmas cards, gift shopping and travel plans to distract your employees, it’s surprising they get anything done this time of year!

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year!  Even with all the chaos it may bring, people are happy, there is magic in the air and I agree with Elvis, “Why can’t every day be like Christmas?”

Regardless of the joy of the season, businesses still need to operate and need their employees to stay engaged.  What is reasonable to expect from your employees?  Is the policy of no personal business, no internet shopping, no personal phone calls or texts at work reasonable?

However you answer those questions, it is essential that you to make a conscious decision about how you will handle the season.  Letting employees make their own decision of how much their focus and time needs to stay on work tasks could lead to a situation where you accept their behavior in the beginning and then decide to draw the line at some point, possibly in an unpopular way.

Talk about it.  Discuss with employees what you expect them to accomplish in the next month.  Will it be different than any other month?  What will be acceptable?  Can they take extra vacation because you are slow?  Less time off because you are more busy?  Can they use their work computer at lunch to do their shopping?  What do they expect to be able to do?  Set the expectation of what you want them to accomplish, reiterating goals expected to be achieved.

Have fun.  This is a time of year when most everyone expects to have some fun.  Provide the opportunities to do so.  Maybe there is a Christmas party out of the office, a festive lunch in the office, a “Dress in your Ugliest Christmas Sweater” day, a gift swap, a paid afternoon to go gift shopping, a service project you will all do together, or a travel agent stopping in one afternoon to help with plans.  Whatever might interest your team, plan the month and share the plan.

Businesses still need to operate despite the Christmas spirit that surrounds us all.  Set expectations clearly and plan some fun and you’ll be good to go!