Introduction Every human being in this world expects to be recognized and also have a sense of achievement at some stage of his or her life. This is a very natural feeling and both normally go together. For example, when an employee is given a cash award by the company for a suggestion that he had given and was implemented, with good cost benefits to the company, he is very happy. More so, when he sees his photo on the notice board and the entire department congratulating him. This is just one example. Doing this on a systematic basis is an art by itself. The particular focus should be on a) Increasing discretionary thinking and acting opportunities b) Making people think out-of-the-box c) Helping people take on increased responsibilities with appropriate handholding d) Involving all the stakeholders and e) Continuously exploring new opportunities.
Increasing discretionary thinking and acting responsibilities A practical demonstration of this happened in the flat of a good friend of this author. At enormous cost, the house was painted new, with experts from Asian Paints chipping in. The General Manager HR of a leading group of Chennai based organizations put on his thinking cap. He took a personal interest in getting the lunch ready. He washed and cut vegetables and sourced a cookbook for a new recipe. His wife and ten-year-old son were surprised and also elated. At this point in time, when the lunch was being served, he proudly announced that the entire re-doing of the hall was left to his wife and son. They could throw away anything and could call the carpenter for new furniture. He would be ready to spend the extra money, he said. The wife was also given the freedom to take the opinion of her friend, a good trained interior design expert. Of course, he explained, he will take part only after the suggestions start flowing.
To this author's great surprise, his schoolteacher wife and sixth standard son got going and were engaged in a big discussion. The man excused himself and took this author to watch a movie shown on television, to another room. After around two hours, the number of new suggestions were not less than ten. Most of them were space-saving ones. The boy had seen something similar in another flat belonging to his friend's father and wanted to visit the house. The father packed off the mother and son. Within the next five days, the new look that the hall had with brand new custom-made furniture was superb. The interior design was very new.
Of course, since the man was an HR professional, he knew some more tricks of the trade. The choice of words, the empowerment and so on, was very smooth. The action followed the loud thinking. Very few suggestions were not taken up. The budget was a rather huge one, but well spent. This can easily be replicated in organizations too. This is exactly what can happen when the discretion is shown. Every single human being is capable of thinking aloud.
Making people think out-of-the-box The boy under reference in the above case study did use his out-of-the-box thinking as well. When one sees something new in some other place, the mind should wander as to how the same can be implemented elsewhere. This is the starting point of thinking out of the box. The entire process is unstructured and does not have any agenda. Crazy ideas normally turn out to the good ones too. For example, the slit that is available in the main door, in many Mumbai homes is actually converted into a small rack to store cups and saucers. This is innovation at its best. The sofa sets also have huge storage facilities as do the cots. Everything is creative. When people are given freedom, their sense of recognition and achievement follows naturally. The Japanese are experts at Quality Circles. This deceptively simple concept is nothing but voluntary groups of workmen who meet outside office hours to solve the problems related to their workplace. Suggestions flow through the process of brain-storming. This is a way of life in hundreds of Indian organizations like SBI, BHEL, BPCL, IOL, Asian Paints, NTPC, NLC, Marico Industries and so on.
Helping people take on increased responsibilities with appropriate handholding The concept of Kaizen or continuous improvement is based on this thinking. It empowers the workmen to think on their own and implement any workplace improvement. For example, when they implement something that leads to increased orderly placement of machine tools and spares, the entire workplace is characterized by total elimination of search time. The workmen are so well trained, that even if two people were absent on a particular day, the productivity would not suffer. The increased responsibility is also accompanied by some hand-holding that does not assume any significant idea of control at all. The results are dramatic. The break-downs become zero when the employees are more disciplined and start doing continuous improvements on their own. The Japanese call it Kaizen. It is very eminently possible to implement.
Involving all the stake-holders In the very simple example of how a wife and her son took the lead to re-do the hall in toto, they were the stakeholders. Apart from them, the carpenter and the interior designer were also involved. However, the man was also involved and provided all encouragement. This is the concept of involving all stakeholders. When a new initiative is introduced and there are financial implications, the finance department can never be kept in the dark. They also need recognition and that can come about when they get involved in the cost-benefit analysis. This is exactly how it is done in professionally managed companies. The costing is done to the minutest detail and with the help of technical experts, every single aspect of the improvement is sought to be documented in total. When this happens, the finance professional is very happy. TVS organizations are now training their suppliers too. Their suppliers also need to give them very good quality products. Hence this stakeholder involvement and this is observed to give very good results. Of course, this is not rocket science. It does pay to involve every single possible stake-holder and this can even involve the society. For example, the Corporate Social Responsibilities are now sought to be given a big shape through active involvement of all the proposed beneficiaries. The self-help groups are also involved in a very big way. This leads to the recognition and achievement of a very tall order.
Continuously exploring new opportunities This is another aspect. In some organizations, the Quality Circles have given rise to what is now called "Self-Managed Work Teams" (SWDTs). These SWDTs are virtual autonomous bodies of workmen who are trained to take all operating decisions. Only for any major financial requirement, they refer to the Top Management. The presentations on all operating matters are done through video conferencing. The results are very good indeed.
Conclusion Recognition and achievement are very essential for every human being, anywhere in the world. The "how" of this process is a continuous process of innovation and there is no end to it at all. Some dimensions have been explained in the aforesaid paragraphs.
Recognition for the good work done by a person will motivate him to do further well in the coming times. Motivation need not be by giving cash even though it is a way to motivate people. A pat on the back in front of others will motivate the performer to a lot of extents. Arranging a meeting and in that meeting give an award and certificate will also help the employee to get motivated.
In our organisation, we have a Research and Development wing. There are around 50 Scientists and yearly once we will have an R&D day. On that day we will give momentoes and cash award to the top 5 scientists who contributed well that year. This has given a boost to the outcome of R&D as the people will always work in a competitive atmosphere and try to deliver goods. Another process we follow is we will have brainstorming sessions with all the scientists and suggestions are solicited and the ideas will be discussed and implemented. A good suggestion will always be rewarded. Sometime we will give them some freedom to implement their decisions on a sample basis and see the outcome. This process also has given a lot of confidence to the people and they start involving themselves and started contributing freely their suggestions and ideas. This particular methodology increased the belongingness among the people and start working more enthusiastically.
We all have heard that “Praise matters more than raise". We all are social beings and thus our efforts require recognition. When we are recognized and praised for our hard work and achievements, it instils confidence in us and helps us to strive for excellence. Most of us leave our present jobs and seek a better one not just because we want a raise and a promotion but also because we do not feel appreciated. Recognition boosts our morale and leaves a positive impact.
Acknowledgement and praising should become a part of the culture. Good work should always be appreciated. Trophies, gifts, incentives, a few words of praise all positively impact the person and thus are very much necessary to keep him on track and help him to put his best foot forward. Moreover, the acknowledgement should not be for mere accomplishing a job. It should be specific so that the person knows where he excelled specifically.