I say that for a few reasons.
- Survey after survey after survey show that employees want and desire recognition (I’d say validation but why pick nits) – and most companies are doing a poor job at it
- Recognition is THE thing that affects retention, engagement and motivation (again – being lazy and not linking out – just google it – the data is there)
- When facebook does it, it must be true. I used to say, “if it’s on google it must be true – but I think facebook has become the new bellweather for truthiness – and they are instituting feature after feature that allow individuals to like, connect and recognize what others on facebook are doing.
- When Ze Frank creates a social service called Star.me then recognition has either arrived or jumped the shark (sort of a Schrödinger’s Cat paradox me thinks.)
Star.me is a new startup by Ze Frank – an internet celebrity from a few years back (some would say still but for me not so much.) He climbed the internet celebrity ladder with his blog “The Show with Ze Frank” – which I used to connect to regularly. He is a “performance artist.” He has no training or experience in the recognition and reward space and yet he is leading a new start up called Star.me – which is all about recognition. Go figure.
Star.me is a new social network driven by the giving and receiving of “stars.” Prompted by the stars he remembers teachers giving out in his childhood Ze Frank believe we all need more stars. And his new startup is a way to give and get them. Star.me is in private beta (I don’t have credentials yet – and is built as a social network leveraging just about all the “gamification” (jeez to I hate that term) elements available to keep you engaged with the site.
The site isn’t for companies – it’s designed for the general public. Below is a video embed from Techcrunch where Ze Frank talks about his new start up. (Email and RSS subscribers may have to click through to the post to see video.)
More comments after the video.
My first impression of the interview, other than the hair fail, is that Ze Frank had no clue why recognition is good – just that it is, that it is needed and he wanted to find a way to monetize it and collect some Benjamin’s. He was pretty vague about the value of recognition and why people want stars other than some memory of getting them in school.
But...buried in the interview was this key (and I think hugely important comment)
“Recognition lubricates social interaction.”
Silos and Crossing Them
Silos are ubiquitous in most companies. Silos are also kryptonite to innovation and collaboration. When companies have big, established silos, most employees won’t reach out and connect across silos for fear of reprisals and retribution. Unfortunately, crossing silos is like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters - you don't do it.
But recognition may be the one thing that makes crossing silos acceptable.
Like Ze Frank said – recognition is the lubricant for social interaction. Making sure your employees have ways and methods of connecting and recognizing each other within and between organizational silos lubricates the interactions that must happen in order for innovation, engagement, and collaboration to occur. It is very difficult to refuse a meeting or a conversation with someone who just recognized your work or highlighted how great you are in the company program or on the company intranet. You can’t refuse a meeting if the person requesting it just gave you a big thumbs up in the Peer-2-Peer recognition program.
Cross the streams – provide the lubricant needed for social interaction in your company and watch as silos melt away – and overall company performance increases.