“Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding.”
– Harvey Mackay
Being consistent is the key to becoming effective in recognizing staff. Acknowledging the contributions and achievements of others needs to become a habit.
In his e-book Hero Habits, my friend and colleague Hugh Culvert, a productivity expert, suggests that habits form because of how we reward ourselves.
Most work-related tasks can be added to a to-do list (another habit). Once completed, crossing them off the list produces a feeling of satisfaction, which is a reward for completing the task.
Staff recognition is different from other aspects of what we do. Because the need to recognize staff for what they do never goes away, recognizing staff is not just another to-do list task and needs to become a habit.
The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines a habit as “an automatic reaction to a specific situation, acquired by learning and repetition.”
This is what staff recognition must become. In a previous article, I suggested several ways to make staff recognition a habit. While these tools and techniques are useful to support the habit, what I failed to discuss was the motivation to create a habit.
Knowing that staff recognition is important and being committed to acknowledging the contributions of staff may not be enough. Based on his own experience of replacing unwanted habits with hero habits, Hugh concludes that, “there has to be a reward for every habit you want to feed.”
Whenever we encounter a situation, we react, with either a one-off response or with a habit-based routine. In some circumstances, the one-off response is what is needed. If I want to book a flight to Kelowna, that’s something I can add to my to-do list. The reward is crossing the task off my list (and anticipating the opportunity to meet Hugh for a cup of tea while I’m there).
But there are recurring scenarios in our lives to which our responses are governed by our habits, whether the habits are wanted or unwanted, and which translate into routine behaviour. Each comes with its own reward.
Reaction > Routine > Reward
Conveniently, one of the examples Hugh chose to include in Hero Habits is relevant to our focus on staff recognition:
|Reaction||I think about someone on my team who did a good job|
|Unwanted Habit||Hero Habit|
|Routine||I tell myself I’ll thank them when I have more time. It never happens.||I stand up, walk down the hall and thank them|
|Reward||I stay busy and avoid what might be an uncomfortable conversation.||They feel good and I feel supportive|
Hugh writes that, “Sometimes I’m motivated by just keeping a promise with myself. That’s enough reward to make me want to keep more promises. And sometimes I need to manufacture a reward.”
What is your reward for recognizing staff? Is it enough to feel that you have met your commitment to recognize and that you made the staff members feel valued and appreciated? Or do you need another reward? Maybe it’s something that is more tangible.
The secret to creating a Hero Habit is to start—to begin now to recognize staff more often.
“Your success was ignited by starting,” Hugh writes. “Just like a big fire, you have to start with a small flame. That’s also how you create a new habit — start small.
“Trust that by starting, repeating, and improving your new Hero Habit(s) it will serve you day after day.”
In Hero Habits, Hugh Culver provides tips to help you create Hero Habits in several aspects of your lives: getting more sleep, becoming a morning person, listening more effectively, eating better, and becoming fit. Download a free copy of Hero Habits at www.hughculver.com