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Recognition in The Real World
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Recognition in Holiday Movies

Posted By David Layman, Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Classic films celebrate holiday fun, but also point to reflection, assessment, change and transformation

The moment Clark plugs in the lights and everything comes to life.

It’s a classic Christmas film moment, and this time of year, it seems that few of us can get enough of those moments – like Ralphie’s quest for a BB gun in The Christmas Story.
It’s a fascinating thought that this is the time of year that we use film as a path to self-reflection. One of the obvious ones is It’s a Wonderful Life, where George Bailey finds out what life might have been like without him. He sees that despite some aspects of his life that he considers failures, he has actually accomplished more than he ever realized.

Another favorite is the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. This story is essentially about looking at our lives and recognizing the mistakes and missteps – the places where the main character, the miserable old Ebenezer Scrooge, could have made different decisions that might have changed his life.
Scrooge’s long suffering employee Bob Crachit has always been an intriguing character. He slaves away at meager wages and somehow maintains a sunny disposition.  He goes home to his family who get by on little but are somehow still able to enjoy holiday cheer. Crachit even goes so far as toast his horrible employer. When Scrooge is transformed overnight, it’s tempting to see this change in the way he finally throws his money around, but the real transformation is in the way he is finally able to change his views about the people around him – their value – and in the way he treats them.

Recognition is about Valuing People

Hopefully, none of us needs three ghosts to change the way we appreciate those around us. But the holiday season, and even just the completion of another year, is a great opportunity to think about what we could do better.

In recognition, we often talk about the transformation it can have on an organization’s culture. We focus on the employee and how we can change that employee’s engagement level, productivity or attitude toward their job and the company.

A survey by Socialcast found that 69 percent of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated. Even old Scrooge, at his most miserly, would agree that this would be beneficial to his bottom line.

Don’t Ignore Assessment Findings

Reflecting on our efforts in recognition and employee engagement within our organizations is critical.  Assessment of recognition programs is an essential part of their success. What components were successful and where could we improve? Scrooge would have benefited from a simple SWOT analysis. He also could have done an employee survey, but what good would it have done if he had ignored Crachit’s concerns?

How often do we look at our Strengths, while neglecting to see the Weaknesses, Opportunities or Threats? How often do we ignore our own surveys or measurements?

An unvarnished look back at our program or how we interact with each other – how leadership or management interacts with employees – can show us the changes that need to be made, perhaps some drastic changes. But if we are unwilling to change based on past experiences, we may face negative consequences. Sometimes we are unwilling to see that changes are necessary until we envision those consequences. Scrooge was moved but remained unconvinced until he saw what his future held.
The experiences of quite a few highly successful companies, along with statistics and academic findings, have shown the value of employee recognition and how it contributes to higher engagement, productivity and retention. The consequence of not heeding our own assessments in recognizing employees could certainly have devastating consequences on your organization’s culture.

As we reflect on the past year, we should keep in mind that the success in the coming one is predicated on our willingness to celebrate our successes and take a hard look at our failures – as well as to recognize it is a wonderful life – and we hold the power to transform our own lives and the lives of those around us.

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