It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t been swept away on the tide of triumph created by London 2012. With the medal total standing at 48 at the time of writing, even the most sports-phobic amongst us have got caught up in a whirl of Olympic excitement.
There’s nothing, it seems, like a celebration of sporting success to unite the nation. Apparently people have even been seen talking to each other on the tube. But as Allister Heath pointed out recently in the Daily Telegraph, there are some significant differences between the way we regard pursuit of excellence on track and field and how we view outstanding achievement in the business arena.
“Sports success rightly prompts admiration, but business success triggers jealousy and anger,” he says. In other words, the very behaviours we applaud in our sporting heroes – determination, personal discipline and a fierce competitive streak – often have negative connotations in the work environment. Heaven forbid the idea that we might actually shout about our successes and expect others to revel in them too – that would be regarded as most unseemly.
So what can you do in your business to overcome this reluctance to ‘boast’ and encourage people to take pride in their prowess?
Create a culture of praise
Make a practice of praising people for the small steps as well as the big achievements. The CIPD’s Spring 2012 Employee Outlook survey shows that when managers give employees regular praise and recognition it has a direct impact on levels of employee engagement. Watch out for the disconnect though. The research found that although 63 per cent of managers say they always give praise and recognition, only 19 per cent of employees agree this is actually the case.
Shout about your success
Spread the word about your achievements, both internally and externally. Use your internal communication channels to let the whole business know when someone has put in an outstanding performance or achieved exceptional results. Keep your trade press up to speed with your success too. There’s nothing like in article in a leading industry publication to create a real buzz around the business.
Get on the award trail
There are awards schemes for just about every industry and specialist sector. Make it your business to find out which you are eligible for and encourage managers to enter projects or nominate individuals in their team. Putting together an entry does take time but your effort will be more than repaid if you win. Often, just the exercise of putting the entry together can create a feel-good factor on its own.
Aim to Inspire
Make it easy for your people to talk to others about their successes and the journey they’ve taken to get there. Let employees know that it’s OK for them to blow their own trumpet in the cause of inspiring others and encouraging upcoming talent to follow in their footsteps. You could ask your most successful people to act as mentors to promising employees, for example, or encourage them to coach others in the skills that have helped propel them to success.
Build Team Spirit
As London 2012 has graphically illustrated, outstanding success often comes about as a result of team effort. Make sure you provide regular opportunities for your team to build and strengthen relationships with each other (see last week’s blog). Social media tools also have an important role to play in making people feel they are part of a community. Think about how you could use mechanisms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to bring people together. Some of the latest HR software systems also have a wealth of features that will help you keep everyone up to date and in touch.
Make sure you are rewarding the kind of behaviour you want to encourage. Look carefully at the bonuses or incentives you offer to make sure that they are supporting your culture rather than working against it. If budgets are tight, find more creative ways to acknowledge people’s efforts and celebrate success. You might not be able to put extra money in people’s pay packets – but a simple team lunch to say thanks for a job well done will show people you have recognised and appreciated their efforts.
Good luck with your attempts to go for Gold – and let us know how you get on so we can join in the celebrations.