Informal Recognition & Thanks

Here’s another gem from Sean Gagnon, CEO of The Abs Company…

“The simple act of acknowledgment goes a long way in strengthening culture and letting your team know that they and their work matters.”


There’s a lot to say about the “culture” you build & try to strengthen/maintain in your organization.

CULTURE…it’s the glue that holds your place together.

It’s what makes your people want to work there…

…helps them derive pleasure…

…allows them to be themselves & show their unique personalities…

…gives them a true sense of belonging & ownership…

…promotes a certain bond amongst team members where everyone’s responsible for everyone else & what they do…

…cultivates a belief that your contributions are vital to the overall success of the team/organization…

…and is held dearly by everyone in it.

It can also be a deadly force. Either way, it’s an incredibly powerful thing.

And you can’t just ignore it. Or make believe it’s not there.

A good buddy of mine recently said, “Culture is way more powerful than strategy!”

The more I thought of it, the more I was convinced that it’s absolutely true! It’ll provide that needed boost to allow an organization to produce at a level higher than the collection of its individual components.

It makes you feel at home & enables you to treat others as family…and be treated in a similar manner.

And similar to what I often say about good service, “I know it when I see it!” It may be hard to define or break culture down to its core ingredients, but you’ll surely know it when it’s there!

But it needs to be watered & fed regularly…just as it needs to be celebrated & cherished.

You may wanna hold a pot luck or run a contest or do whatever for & with your people.


Just because. Just because you wanna.

That’s as good a reason as any when you have a healthful & vibrant culture.

Never, ever underestimate its importance & all the little things that help to build it up.

They may not seem like much, but just put yourself in your people’s shoes.

Recognition for, and acknowledgement of, one’s good work & contributions to the overall success of the organization is truly one of the most important employee needs.

If not, THE most important need!

Be conscious of it…take all the blame & dole out all the praise…treat ‘em like you love ‘em!

There need not be a significant event or an important milestone in order to recognize the performance of an individual contributor or a small group.

There doesn’t have to be a “reason”, an “excuse” or a campaign in order to say “Thanks! You’re doing a great job! It’s very much appreciated!” or jot down…yes, HANDWRITE!😱😱😱…a short note to one of your people.

And don’t forget that the most effective motivational tool remains the green $tuff.

“But, Mike, that’s so impersonal!”

I’m not saying that it should be the ONLY thing in your tool kit to incentivize people to improve their performance, but history has shown that a well-balanced, fairly-constructed & equitably-managed PIP/Performance Incentive Program will help produce results you’ve never dreamed of or could’ve imagined.

I was always convinced that I could get the maximum effort & best results outta my people by being the absolute best leader I could be.

Damn, I could get blood out of a damned rock!


Well, lo & behold, when I built my own PIP for my Customer Service shop in Nebraska, I was downright shocked – – ABSOLUTELY BLOWN AWAY – – with the results I saw!

Overall performance improved ACROSS THE BOARD for each one of the 5 performance categories; “Customer Satisfaction”, “Internally-Measured Quality”, “Productivity”, “Occupancy/Efficiency, incl attendance” & “Sales Referrals”!!!

Within less than 3 months, we were achieving, and surpassing, goals that I established for the 12-month mark!

I was able to CANCEL 2 training classes, specifically planned & budgeted to increase staffing resources during the dreaded First Quarter…

*scary horror movie music plays*

…as we become so much more productive & efficient!

And we just SAILED through the entire first HALF of the year, including a 15% portfolio growth, with PHENOMENAL timeliness performances.

Instead of being underwater (as “everyone” kept warning me as I joined Lehman Brothers on April 1st of the previous year), we actually appeared to be “over-staffed” due to the performance improvements that my people had made!

The reps were bringing home significant monthly bonuses…they were happy!

The Performance Incentive Program was designed to distribute 30% of the savings back to the people.

*whips out his abacus*

That means that the company realized the remaining 70% of the expense saves…they were happy.

And the customers were getting better service delivery from us in terms of excellent quality, fewer problems & improved timeliness…they were happy!

Turnover disappeared.

We were able to cross-train our best-performing reps to handle “early delinquent” calls, thereby assisting our Collections (which was completely underwater as the Great Mortgage Collapse of 2008 had begun) at NO INCREMENTAL COST (as we utilized our excess availability to grab some of their calls).

I only wished that I had embraced the whole “performance incentive” philosophy much, much earlier in my career!

In summary, it all revolves around your people.

Find ways to make them feel appreciated.

Develop programs to incentivize them (ensuring that your people, the customers & your company ALL come out way ahead).

Empower them, improve their tools, challenge them.

Then watch your place reach heights never even dreamt of previously.


As always, thank you so verymmuch for listening!

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