Lack of prestige ruins everything.

    What the Experts Won’t Tell You: Lack of Prestige Ruins It All

    Lots of time. Great managers. No popularity contests. These are secrets I’ve already busted open for you. But as you’re finding out, those aren’t the only secrets the experts don’t talk about. There’s more.

    I found out the hard way that a lack of prestige can ruin your recognition program. If your employees don’t see and feel the benefits of becoming an award winner, your program is a big waste.

    At Crystal D, our most prestigious recognition program is our Value Champions. This is a multi-faceted peer-to-peer program where our employees nominate each other for exemplifying a company value. One winner for each value is honored on WOW Day and given an award. They hold the title of Value Champion for the next twelve months until the next WOW Day.

    I believed it was a program that employees would want to strive to be a part of. But I learned that not everyone saw the prestige of being an award winner as a motivator for being part of the program. One of our most committed employees refused to participate. Continue reading…

    Popularity contests ruin everything.

    What the Experts Won’t Tell You: Popularity Contests

    The dark side of recognition continues with this next secret, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Time and managers make or break your culture-building, but they aren’t the only thing that makes your culture-building process stop. The experts don’t talk about popularity contests. Your employees are nominating their coworkers, but are they nominating for the right reasons? You need to vet your nominations and take away any personal bias so all employees have a fair shot at winning an award. Continue reading…

    Recognition Takes Time

    What the Experts Won’t Tell You: Time and Managers

    The reality of leading an organization into becoming a “being” of its own is damn hard work. It takes a lot of money, time, effort, and even more commitment. The test of time is the biggest test that your program faces. It sounds like no big deal, but time can make your program a success or a failure.

    This is one of the things experts like Dr. Bob Nelson, Adrian Gostick, Chester Elton, Gallup, Recognition Professionals International, and so on won’t tell you. It’s taken time and hard work for Crystal D to get where we are today with our recognition programs. I follow these experts and have learned a lot from them. What they have to say is important, and you need to listen to them.

    But they don’t like to talk about the dark side because it’s not pretty and can be very discouraging. And time is part of that dark side. Continue reading…

    Practicing recognition and building a culture is like making a trifle.

    How a Chocolate Trifle Makes Your Recognition and Culture-Building Better

    Have you ever eaten a chocolate trifle?

    It is perhaps the most tantalizing dessert on the face of the Earth. A tall, wide bowl holds layer upon layer of deliciousness. My wife makes a chocolate trifle that is layered from bottom to top like this:

    • Brownie
    • Chocolate pudding
    • Vanilla pound cake
    • Crushed Oreo cookie
    • More brownie
    • More Oreo cookie
    • Tons of whipped cream
    • Chocolate sprinkles

    Continue reading…

    Expect some skepticism and doubt from your employees

    In Loud Silent Protest

    After my first meeting with my company where I introduced all of that new company information, eyeballs rolled and people loudly sighed. This was a very discouraging start. I felt as though the negative reactions had a personal undertone directed at me, so it stung quite a bit.

    I asked Smartie-Pants about it, and he said, “You should expect some skepticism and some doubt and beware that some people won’t want to embrace the ideas you have for the future. Some of the skeptics are people who don’t belong on the bus, but they will eventually realize that this culture stuff is here to stay. Those people will leave. The ones who stay but resist are testing you to see how you will handle their doubt.  This is your chance to show them you are serious and committed. As a result, these folks will eventually come around.” Continue reading…

    Wall of Fame


    Our first WOW Day was a success, considering we were newbies when it came to practicing recognition. I wanted to give recognition to our employees, and I wanted the day to be uplifting. We honored a number of employees who all deserved their moment in the spotlight. I shared how our company is doing. All of this combined, I believe that I accomplished everything I set out to do with our first employee recognition event. Continue reading…

    No. This award isn't a "WOW," so it is not right.

    The First WOW Day

    After studying Dr. Bob Nelson’s work on employee recognition, we learned that we could create a useful and effective employee recognition program with a small budget. So in an effort to “practice what we preach,” we initiated our first employee recognition program event.

    Ideally, we wanted this event to be a day of recognition where we honored employees for exemplifying our company values. We named the event WOW Day to reflect our brand Home of “The WOW Effect”® and because we wanted our employees to feel “The WOW Effect”™ for themselves.

    Our first WOW Day in 2005 honored a group of amazing employees for doing their work in a way that could Turn Emotions Into Memories™ and make others say “WOW!” Continue reading…

    Persevere through the awkward phase in your company

    The Flywheel

    Would you believe me if I told you that our core purpose, plus the Hedgehog Concept, plus a bunch of fun parties helped our company take the next step on our way from good to great?

    It was at our next meeting that Smartie-Pants introduced the concept of the Flywheel Effect to us. It is another idea offered by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. Continue reading…

    Is this real? Or just a load of smoke?

    A Load of Smoke?

    In business and in life, actions speak louder than words. This is especially true at the start of the culture-building process. Our first crack at this did not go as well as I had hoped. But I took my wife’s advice and chose to take the next step in the journey. If you missed my previous post, you can read it here.

    After the feeling of defeat at my first all-company meeting, I went to work the next day and honestly felt that my desire to be a company that created emotions and memories and glimmering crystal awards was just a load of smoke. To be totally transparent, I was tapped out. Keeping up with each day and the new building completely depleted my energy reserve.

    Continue reading…

    The wind stopped blowing...suddenly I was going nowhere.

    How the Eyeballs Roll

    As I noted in my last post, the days surrounding Crystal D’s move to the new facility and meeting with Smartie-Pants about our future were very, very busy.

    Our company culture was under the magnifying glass. In just a few short months, my leadership team and I had reconsidered just about every detail as to who we are and what we do. We also physically moved each item from one place to the next. This was a very energizing time filled with optimism and speculation. We asked ourselves:

    • “How do we make our core purpose and values part of daily life at work?”
    • “How do we recognize our employees in a meaningful way?”
    • “How do we continue to provide “The WOW Effect”® to ourselves and our customers?” 

    Continue reading…