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Friday, November 19, 2010

Lean Quote: Team Recognition is about We's not I's

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"The ratio of 'We's' to 'I's' is the best indicator of the development of a team." — Lewis D Eigen, Executive Vice President, University Research

Few issues in business today are as challenging and critical as knowing how best to recognize teams.  The task of recognizing teams differs in many respects from individual recognition, and this presents a dilemma.  In recognizing a team en masse, a manager runs the risk of alienating the team members who contributed most to the team's work, while reinforcing the slack behavior of team members who contributed little or nothing to the team's efforts. 

Because there are more factors to consider, planning team recognition can be a little more involved than planning individual recognition.  The key is simply to get started; don't make team recognition more complicated than it needs to be.  Here are 10 ways to praise and recognize teams:

1.  Have a manager pop in at a project team's first meeting to express appreciation for the members' involvement.
2.  Open the floor for team members to praise anyone at the beginning or end of a meeting.
3.  When a group member presents an idea or suggestion, encourage other team members to thank the person for his or her contributed.
4.  Create symbols of a team's work, such as T-shirts or coffee cups with a team or company motto or logo printed on them.
5.  Hold a "praise barrage," where team members write down and share things they like about another member of the team.
6.  Assign one member of the team the job of creating and presenting an award for another member of the team.
7.  Alternate the responsibility for team recognition among different team members each week or at each meeting.
8.  Host a refreshments gathering, a potluck, or a special breakfast or lunch to celebrate interim or final results.
9.  Ask an upper manager to attend a "bragging session" with the team, during which the group shares its achievements, and team members are thanked for their specific contributions.
10.  Write letters to every team member at the conclusion of a project thanking them for their contribution, and include a copy in their personnel file.

Team recognition works when it is immediate, sincere, specific, based on performance, and comes from employees' immediate manager or from other highly regarded people in the workplace.

"It's amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit." - Sign in Boston College locker room

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