8 minute read – Posted by – April 30, 2020

Recognition at 7Geese during COVID-19

Since the onset of the coronavirus and the sudden shift to remote work, our people continue to make adjustments to accommodate this new environment.

This shift was as sudden for us as for any companies going through it together. Keeping a focus on our rituals, like our recognition process, is providing us with some level of continuity and certainty. Continuing to live our values has led to some surprising results.

Recognition is a must for company culture and performance

As a company, we have always practiced and preached a core value-based recognition program. Specifically, we empower all team members to recognize each other whenever we see examples of people living by our company’s core values. 

The reason we do this is because of the positive impacts that recognition has on our people as well as our company’s performance. Peer-driven recognition fuels motivation and productivity. When people feel appreciated, they are more likely to stay engaged, which improves retention. In fact, all the way back in 2012 a Bersin by Deloitte survey showed that companies who were in the top 20% for building a “recognition-rich culture” had 31% lower voluntary turnover rates. 

It’s our fundamental belief that a healthy culture of recognition indicates a strong organizational culture. But not all recognition programs work — tenure-based recognition programs are not the draw they once were. Gamification of recognition programs received some hype but ended up rewarding the whole behaviours. In other words, people need more than the promise of the “10-year watch” or points to keep them engaged over the long term. 

How we do it at 7Geese

It was important for us to create a recognition program that was based on specifics like effort and input rather than end results. We wanted a way to identify and highlight the behaviours that are aligned with our values as an organization. We encourage easy, frequent, omnidirectional, and cross-functional recognition — from peer-to-peer as well as top-down and bottom-up. 

We also like to share our recognition stories publicly and include a recognition celebration as part of our quarterly all-hands meetings. We include recognitions as part of our reviews template, highlighting all the recognitions an individual has received throughout the year. We ask questions such as “what is one value that you want to work more on for next year?” Again, adopting a growth mindset and not an assessment based on how many recognitions one has received relative to their peers.

The goal is to focus on the intrinsic value of recognition. The pride in their work, the high effort in their input, and the fact they are valued by team members and the whole company. For these reasons, we do not link recognition to any financial rewards. Previously, we have done a low-value gift card for year-end top recognitions, but it was not a “coveted” prize. This quarter, we surprised the most recognized overall and the most recognized by core values, with lunch. It was a great way to get team members who are not in the same team/department to come together and share a meal. 

We are taking the best practices approach not merely because of the benefits to everyone in our organization but also to serve as a framework for our customers. We encourage them to customize their programs based on their own values and culture. 

Why recognition is an important part of 7Geese’s DNA

Recognition is a key component of the growth-mindset in our organization. Often, companies will focus too much on the constructive side of feedback and forget how important positively encouraging your team members can be. We never grow tired of using our favourite metaphor of a flock of flying geese. Not only are they famous for incredibly efficient teamwork in their flying formations, but they are also known to honk at each other as a way to encourage the entire group to keep flying. 

The result of all of this focus, on recognition and other people management practices, is that we enjoy better job satisfaction and retention. Remember that stat above about companies that have recognition-rich cultures? In the past 2 years, 7Geese has had under 8% of the voluntary turnover rate. 

Recognition is more important than ever since the onset of COVID-19

Our GM of Professional Services Robert St. Jacques says it best when he suggested that in these uncertain times, sticking to your rituals can help offer some familiarity and certainty. 

Robert St. Jacques has been answering your COVID-19 and people management questions on our YouTube channel

The giving and receiving of recognition is a ritual that we wanted to keep strong during COVID-19. In the spirit of that, we’re changing very little about our process, with one exception. We wanted to encourage agility and celebrate even small wins, fast, so we are adding a new badge aligned to our values called “Hustle.”

Our CEO has insight into what everyone is working on with our weekly OKR (objectives and key results) check-ins, our biweekly demo days, and from the success stories we share during lunch n’ learns. Leading by example, he is in the habit of recognizing team members every week. 

Our surprising recognition results during the COVID-19 outbreak

All of which brings us to the surprising results we teased at the start of this article. Even with the sudden shift to remote work and the various adjustments our team has had to make, our recognitions are up 30% in March and so far in April, when compared to our monthly average. 

At a time when it was perhaps more important than ever, our people are stepping up to recognize and support one another. It’s almost cliche concept these days to say that “we’re all in this together,” but at 7Geese, we are living it. 

As individuals and as a company, that gives us plenty to be proud of.

Wendy Pat Fong

Wendy is Chief of Staff at 7Geese. She can be reached at wendy@7geese.com.