Chief recognition officer Sarah McVanel

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How to build teams with recognition: Sarah McVanel

Build stronger teams and enhance relationships with the power of recognition

In this podcast episode, professional speaker, trainer, coach, and author Sarah McVanel discusses the importance of recognition in personal and professional settings with host George Torok. They explore the challenges of maintaining connections in a digital world, with Sarah suggesting ways to adapt appreciation methods for virtual interactions.

They also discuss the importance of personalized and specific recognition in organizations, with Sarah sharing examples from her own life. The conversation highlights the need for regular, small acts of recognition and the dangers of outsourcing recognition to external vendors or HR departments. Sarah also provides practical tips for incorporating recognition into daily routines.

The power of timely recognition (00:02:47)
Sarah emphasizes the significance of timely recognition in fostering connection and rebuilding relationships, especially during challenging times like the pandemic.

Building meaningful virtual connections (00:05:08)
Sarah explores strategies for creating meaningful virtual connections and adapting recognition practices from in-person interactions to virtual settings.

Unlocking the key to feeling valued (00:07:24)
Sarah reveals the top three ways to make people feel valued and appreciated, including genuine gratitude, personalized recognition, and heartfelt written thank you notes.

Personalization: the secret to effective recognition (00:13:18)
Sarah highlights the importance of personalized recognition and how even a simple gesture like a thank you card can have a powerful impact.

Consistency breeds motivation (00:14:16)
Sarah emphasizes the need for regular recognition to keep employees engaged and motivated, urging leaders to move away from relying solely on milestone anniversaries.

Recognition's role in fostering loyalty (00:15:38)
Sarah explores how recognition plays a pivotal role in fostering employee loyalty, as poor relationships with bosses often lead to employees leaving their jobs.

Appreciating values and cultivating quality (00:24:44)
Sarah discusses the importance of appreciating values such as fairness, hard work, and quality, and provides actionable steps for building a culture of quality within a team.

Recognition and valuing people: a winning formula (00:27:01)
Sarah highlights the impact of recognition and valuing people on retention, engagement, collaboration, and innovation within organizations.

Making recognition a habit (00:30:38)
Sarah delves into the importance of scheduling recognition, habit stacking, and leveraging technology to make expressing appreciation a regular practice.

The Power of Recognition: A Conversation with Sarah McVanel

As a professional speaker, trainer, coach, and author of five books, including "The Frog Effect Workbook" and "Forever Recognize Others' Greatness," Sarah McVanel is a force to be reckoned with. In a recent podcast episode, I had the pleasure of discussing the importance of recognition and connection with her. Here's what we learned.

The Importance of Recognition and Connection

Sarah shared three interesting facts about herself: she works from a restored three-story barn, she's an award-winning dancer who picked up the hobby again at age 40, and she loves to embarrass her children by posting her dance routines on Instagram and TikTok. But beyond these fun facts, Sarah is a recognition expert who helps people create deep and meaningful connections at work, home, and in their careers.

Sarah explained that connection is the energy that exists when people feel seen, heard, and valued. She emphasized the need for people to feel valued and a sense of belonging, both in personal and professional settings.

Navigating Connection in a Digital World

The pandemic has posed challenges to maintaining connections, but Sarah assured that virtual recognition is possible. She suggested adapting the core ways of appreciation used in face-to-face interactions to the virtual world. Leaders can make their team members feel valued and appreciated through sincere thank yous, personalized and specific recognition, and written thank you notes. Sarah even mentioned an app that allows her to create handwritten thank you notes digitally.

The Value of Personal Recognition

We discussed the frustration with generic and automated messages, such as birthday wishes on Facebook. Personal recognition, we agreed, holds much more value. Recognition is a cultural pulse in Sarah's household and affects relationships and overall well-being. She emphasized that simply saying "great job" is not enough; recognition needs to be personalized and specific to have a lasting impact.

Recognition in Organizations

Recognition doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. Organizations should prioritize it. We reflected on how recognition has changed over the years. Companies used to recognize employees after 25 years of service with a watch or a small salary bump. However, regular, small acts of recognition are more effective than infrequent big celebrations. Sarah added that recognition is crucial for employee loyalty and engagement, and that bad bosses are often a major reason for people leaving their jobs.

Customizing Recognition

Sarah warned against outsourcing recognition to external vendors or HR departments, as it can lead to generic and impersonal initiatives. She suggested that organizations should customize their recognition programs and gestures based on individual preferences. She provided an example of how she personalized recognition for her videographer by giving her a beer, which she discovered was her favorite drink after two years of working together.

Private or Public Recognition?

When it comes to recognizing someone privately or publicly, Sarah recommends asking individuals about their preferences. She suggested using tools like her recognition checklist, which includes questions about private and public recognition preferences.

Building a Strong Team Culture

Sarah discussed the importance of recognition and appreciation in building a strong team culture. Instead of focusing on complaints about team members not pulling their weight, leaders should appreciate the values of fairness, hard work, and quality that these team members hold.

The Role of Leaders

Leaders need to invest time and effort in recognition and engagement, as it can save them from the challenges of failed change initiatives, high turnover rates, and potential lawsuits. Sarah encourages leaders to value their people and make them feel heard and valued, as this leads to higher retention rates and a culture of continuous improvement.

Making Recognition a Habit

To incorporate recognition into their daily routine, Sarah suggests habit stacking, where leaders attach a new behavior, such as team recognition, to an existing one, like checking their inbox or turning on the light. She also recommends using tools like project management software or reminder apps to schedule regular recognition activities, such as sending thank-you cards or texts.

Conclusion to Recognition Conversation

In conclusion, recognition should be a habit for all professionals, not just leaders, as it builds authentic relationships and creates a positive work environment. Whether it's through a simple thank you note or a personalized gesture, recognition can make a significant difference in our personal and professional lives.