Thursday, March 8, 2012

Even Linebackers Need Recognition

Greg Williams and his former New Orleans Saints organizational mates are in deep trouble. It is alleged that Coach Williams took the process of inspiring his players a step too far. No one would advocate rewarding a professional football player for hurting one of his union mates....we are unsure if this was the intent of what has been labeled a "bounty program". Everyone, however, would applaud a leader for offering his/her employees incentives for improving their performance.

The intended consequences of the New Orleans Saints unconventional incentive program are yet to be fully realized. There are, however, 2 key lessons learned from this controversy applicable to Employee Recognition:
Everyone Wants to be Recognized
It's Not About the Reward

Romo's Thoughts
" wasn't about the money, it was about the recognition..." - Bill Romanowski

A sports scientist nor even Roger Goodell can explain the importance of a post game moment. That moment in Pop Warner Football when the coach gives you a sticker to put on your helmet. It has nothing to do with the hit you put on your classmate and you did not intend to hurt him. For the first time in your life you spent 5 hours of every summer day in the hot sun with pads on and YOU overcame your personal limitations. Your parents were nowhere to be found, it was not soccer, and your dad was not the coach. For the first time in your life you did something on your own, you tried your hardest, and after days of uncertainty...the Coach picked YOU as the top performer. This, dear readers, is the premise of greatness. It is a result of great parenting, faith in the right things, and your recognition of your own ability! There is simply nothing better!

On a recent broadcast of the Jim Rome Show, Bill Romanowski explained it in terms that related to that which was documented above. Football players in this day and age make 10 figure incomes. They also risk their life every day. Put it in perspective: you are walking into a gun fight....a knife won't do!

Houses, Cars, and Attractive Women are elements of fame. They cannot make up for that moment when the coach brings you in front of the team to recognize YOUR effort! It is humbling and gratifying all at once. It is the place we all strive to get back to regardless of our income or status.

There is not a person on Earth who would not be humbled and gratified by a coach calling him/her in front of their team to get a sticker to put on their helmet. The sticker goes on the helmet and the recognition of your personal ability is never forgotten. You cannot assign a fiscal value to trying your hardest and knowing it made a difference.

Coach Williams did not encourage grown men to hurt their union mates. He wanted them to remember what it was like to try, succeed, and to be validated.

Value Is Interpretive
I once won a sales contest and our Vice President gave me a gift card. I bought diapers for my kids. Only they gave a shit! It was amazingly easy for our VP to ask her assistant to send me the card in the mail. There was no human life's dedication had become a commodity. As I sharpened up my resume, my boss called me into a room, all of my teammates were there. They applauded for me. I had no idea what I had done. Without my knowing, everyone on my team had nominated me for an award that was globally recognized. I was the only sales professional to be given the reward. I stayed with the company for an additional 5 years because I didn't want my team to have to live with our Vice President.

Lance Armstrong said it best, "it's not about the bike". His life's dedication was to beat cancer and to inspire other people to do the same. To look a death sentence in the eye and win is far more important than any professional achievement.

Think about it....the best gift you have ever received did not cost more than any other. Someone took enough time to get to know you, they took time to find something that meant more to you than money, and they presented it to you in a fashion that made you remember what LIFE is all about!

We all need a sticker for our helmet. None of us would injure another to get it.

Don't Forget to Remember!


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