At first blush, opening a new restaurant and ramping up staff recognition would appear to have nothing in common—that is, until we realize that both involve creating expectations in the minds of others which, once established, must be met.
Let’s begin with the restaurant’s disastrous grand opening, which occurred more than two decades ago. It’s a tale that may be instructive to any leaders wishing to ramp up their organization’s staff recognition strategy.
It seemed that the entire community was starved for a new place to eat. On opening day, almost everyone appeared to have lined up to be among the first to dine in the new restaurant. Tired of waiting, some left in disgust.
For those who were eventually seated, the wait to be served was even longer. The staff was overwhelmed. They weren’t prepared for the number of people who showed up. The kitchen was slow. Orders were mixed up. Servers found themselves explaining that the kitchen had run out of menu items.
The high expectations set by announcing the restaurant’s grand opening were not met.
Even in that pre-social media era, word spread quickly. Within days, the lineups had disappeared. Most tables were unoccupied. A few months later, the restaurant closed.
What is the lesson to remember as you prepare to ramp up staff recognition?
Begin slowly. Eschew a “grand opening” in favour of a “soft opening.” Don’t set expectations which might not be met immediately. Give yourself time to work out the kinks before making a grand announcement about how you intend to increase the amount of recognition staff members will receive.
A similarly cautious approach is what this restaurant should have adopted prior to its opening. If it had, the restaurant might have had a successful start and still be preparing and serving meals.
You don’t ever want to close the doors on your enhanced staff recognition strategy, an outcome which you are likely to avoid by beginning small and quietly—a “soft launch.”
Here are a few ways to soft launch your staff recognition plans:
- Quietly increase what you do to recognize staff—more pats on the back, more thank-you notes, more praise written on sticky notes left on desks or attached to computer screens.
- Schedule time at meetings for staff to recognize their peers.
- Create a “wall of success,” where you post good news about staff: positive notes from happy customers, positive news about work and personal accomplishments, and certificates of achievement.
- Spend time with staff in the break room or at their workstations. Thank them for specific contributions. Ask about their work. Listen to their comments. Seek their advice.
- Leave treats on desks with a note of appreciation.
Suggested Action: Ramp up your staff recognition activities slowly. Keep things low key. Take time to work out the kinks before publicly launching your enhanced staff recognition strategy.
How to ramp up staff recognition is a topic discussed during the Staff Recognition: One Piece at a Time program. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (780) 232-3828 to learn more or to schedule a workshop for your leaders.