The Importance and Challenges of Recognition for Global Teams

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In early 2014, I established two global teams; lead management, and database marketing (DBM) in best cost centers located in Bangalore and Penang. We were excited to onboard our new colleagues and their enthusiasm and engagement was sky high.

As time went on the teams grew more skilled and their productivity improved, however their engagement began to fall. We realized that that kinds of encouragement and recognition that come naturally when you are working side by side in the same office, were missing in our new globally distributed team. We needed to take a deliberate and systematic approach to recognition.

Since recognition is an important part of individual and team morale, our first challenge was to find a way to recognize the successes and accomplishments of the colleagues. At first, we focused primarily on metrics using measurable data: number of leads processed, number of marketing qualified leads generated for sales, lists built for marketers, and so on. While these metrics are very important and we want to celebrate them, we also felt it was essential to recognize colleagues who exhibited our company’s core values.

The second challenge was the remote nature of our team. Someone may jump in to help a colleague through a difficult project, or exhibit great partnership or innovation, but we might not always be aware of it. To help overcome this challenge, we created a new section of our Weekly Alignment Notes (WAN) specifically for recognition. It became everyone’s responsibility to submit recognition opportunities to their on-site leaders who then funnel it up through the WAN. We encourage recognition within the team as well as for all of the individuals and teams we work with every day.

Having created a way to collect recognition information, we needed a mechanism for actually publishing it. We tried making recognition announcements in team meetings, sending e-mails to the individuals themselves and sending broadcast e-mails. Each method had its merits, but we really didn’t hit our stride until we leveraged the functionality on our company intranet called The Source.

The Source combines several benefits for recognition. We had already set up groups by topic and built up a respectable audience that followed each group. We benefited from the notification of the @mention feature for those colleagues who followed each of the group sites. These groups are open, so occasional visitors were able to see it. The groups also provided a way for other team members and colleagues to participate through comments. These methods helped us build a sense of support within the community.

Most successes involve teamwork and collaboration. Whenever possible, we like to recognize this attribute. For example, with our database marketing team, building a highly targeted list requires excellent collaboration with the program marketer, so we recognize both the DBM team member and the marketer together. In another example, we thank the sales colleagues who convert our tele-qualified inquiries into revenue for the company.

In addition to the recognition strategy above, I also learned from a former leader the benefits of an annual “Wall of Fame” session. She dedicated one departmental meeting a year to reading out loud the external praise and recognition for the teams. This session is always great for team morale and makes a great way to wrap up a successful year. It is even better to do this right before annual reviews!

Bruce Lehman

Hidden Forge

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