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“The Player Who ‘Serves’ Well Seldom Loses – in Business it’s NO Different” – Chapter 8/9

Evolving from a Boss into a Leader

You’ll be receiving each chapter via email over the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for Chapter 9 in your next email from BOSS.

8. The Integration of Celebration

Speaking of celebrations – why do it? After all, you’re already paying people to do their jobs, isn’t that celebration enough?

First, you can celebrate accomplishments (or just the fact that you’re all working together) because you genuinely want to make your people happy. That’s a pretty good reason in and of itself.

Second, it pays off.

While it will pay off for any size of company, making an employee feel like a rockstar can really pay off for start-ups and smaller companies that face big-company competition. The competition will always come sniffing around for your employees, especially the ones who are shining especially bright.

You can’t necessarily out-pay the competition, and/or you can’t offer bigger benefits.

The only arrow in your quiver might be that you’re able to make your employees feel like they’re more than just employees – they’re part of a family.

Even better, they’re part of a family that loves having them around. They may get more money at the other company, but if they’re just a small cog in a big machine or they end up in a sea of bland or even antagonistic co-workers they’re going to regret ever leaving you and want to come back.

Your people work for money, but they live for positive recognition.

Your customers will come back for the awesome service that results from interacting with employees that love their company.

Richard Branson, that Virgin guy, relates how his empire began with the one low-income record shop in a post to Entrepreneur.com:

“After the launch, the business’s finances were pretty tight — at the end of each week, we’d have to figure out if we had earned enough money to pay the rent and the staff – but this didn’t bother us. We were having such a great time that we kept going, mostly because we just liked hanging out together.”

“Since we were happy, we treated our Virgin Records customers like they were part of the family. And since our customers loved their experience, they kept coming back for more. Before we knew it, we had opened more shops and we were selling more records.”

“As Virgin grew, our ‘serious fun’ approach became a driving force for our enterprise.”

If you crave some numbers the 2015 Employee Recognition Report by the Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce surveyed 823 HR pros to see how employee recognition affected their companies:

  • 68% say recognition made a positive impact on employee retention rates.
  • 84% said that employee relationships were improved.
  • 86% said that the employees’ happiness was increased.
  • 90% said that it positively impacted employee engagement.

There Ain’t No Party Like a [Your Company Here] Party

So now you want to integrate these celebrations as part of your business’ culture – but what should you do?

Southwest Airlines, famous for their friendly staff, has a wall of memorabilia donated by staff. It’s completely composed of items that signify special moments for the employees – sort of a Planet Hollywood kind of display created by happy employees.

You can reward milestones. Groupon awards employees a track jacket after their first full year, and adds star patches for each additional year.

Influence & Co. (a content marketing agency) reward employees who make significant contributions with “The Belt” – a wrestling-championship style belt.

Zappos has reinvented the old performance bonus routine – they let employees reward other employees with a $50 bonus once a month. How motivating is that?

If you don’t have a lot of money you can get a little weird – Red Velvet Events (an event-planning company) has a little troll doll that the current doll-holder passes off to another employee during their weekly meeting, recapping the recipients’ good deeds that previous week.

Also, don’t think you have to reward only the big successes. Reward the risk-takers, even if they fail. Those risk-takers are going to be the ones who make some amazing break-through eventually that will put your business ahead of your competition.

You can even make an effort to make the people you reject feel good about themselves. If someone interviews for a job with you but doesn’t get it, you can still make them feel decent about their efforts by sending them a customised thank-you letter, and maybe a voucher for one of your products (hopefully they won’t take that as you rubbing it in).

Not only is it classy, but you’re going to be making a huge impression on that person that most of your competitors will not equal – if this is how you treat people you say “no” to, how awesome must it be to actually work for you?

Help out an employee who has fallen on hard times.

Be generous with parental leave.

Get a little personal with your employees. Can you imagine how fantastic it would be for a Virgin employee to turn around to find the Richard Branson there, come to shake his or her hand and to say thanks for making the company look good? They’re going to talk about that moment forever.

Every single little bit of recognition you dish out grants an exponential return from your business’ most important asset – your people.

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