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How Appreciation In The Workplace Will Help You Drive Business Results


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If you are a manager, your job is all about the people you work with. It’s about having your teams do thFe job and making sure that they know what they have to do, that they trust you, and that they are motivated to work towards a shared mission. Appreciation in the workplace plays a major role in achieving business results, and that is something that Rick King understood early on in his career.

Rick King 2 1600555512023Rick King can be best described as an innovation strategist who has in-depth experience in cybersecurity, digital transformation, corporate IT integrations, and corporate leadership. He worked at Thomson Reuters for over two decades in roles including Chief Technology Officer, Chief Information Officer, COO, and Managing Director, along with overseeing the digital growth and transformation of the Canadian multinational media conglomerate that is Thomson Reuters. Rick is still active on several boards, including Huntington Bank and American Public Media. More recently, Rick was tasked with taking on the role of chair during the Minneapolis St. Paul international Airports $1.6 billion overhaul.

Despite all his technology roles, Rick realized that you could look at business through the people and through recognizing the work they do. Far from being a fluffly concept, appreciation addresses people’s hunger for personal recognition and accomplishment. It increases self-worth and significance and drives the organization towards your mission.

Appreciation In The Workplace

As part of our HR Culture Month, we talked with Rick King about appreciation in the workplace. We invite you to listen to this episode packed with gems and actionable tips you can start implementing in your organization. These are our favorite takeaways.

State a clear mission

One of your most important tasks as a senior manager is to set out what your teams need to do. What is your mission? Once you have a clear mission, make sure that all your line managers and everyone between you and your employees know the same mission.

Everyone in your organization needs to be fully on board with the mission –the rest of the board, your line managers, your employees, and everyone in between.

Employees need to hear from you directly

As organizations grow, communication gets more complicated. When you add different channels of communication, you end up playing a telephone game where the message gets distorted. Your job is to make sure that your mission gets through.

Rick’s strategy is to use the line managers to communicate through the chain of command, as they are the ones giving the direction. You are the one giving the mission. Don’t rely solely on passing the message down –but don’t skip that step either. He calls it communication disintermediation, where employees get to hear the message directly from you. Use face-to-face conversations, small group discussions, videos… Adapt the resources to your teams dynamics and capabilities so that everyone has the opportunity to hear from you directly.

Make a personal connection with employees

Speaking on stage in front of hundreds or thousands of people is good, but it’s not enough. “When I go on site visits, I want to get to as many people face to face as I can on that trip”, Rick says. “I want to engage them personally find out a little bit about them”.

Walk up to your employees’ desks, say hello, and find out about them. Get to know a bit about what they do, try to bond with them and find some common ground. Listen to them and accept their feedback and advice, never try to patronize them. Your purpose in talking to them is a personal connection more than getting anything out of them.

When you create this personal connection, you are no longer a stranger that doesn’t care about them. You become a bit more human, they were real, we connected, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Understand your job priorities as a manager

A common question Rick received when he talked about creating all these personal connections considering the seniority of his role was: “How do you have time to do that?” His answer? “That is my job”.

Leaders are often driven by objectives, but they sometimes forget that the way to go is less about focusing on outcomes and more about empowering people to do their job.

It is very clear to Rick that part of his job is about laying out the objectives with the executive team, fighting for the right resources, and making sure the objectives tie in. “The other part of the job is having the team to do the job, period. That’s the most important thing. So what else would I do? Go into my office and look at spreadsheets? No way. It’s it’s about the people that are working there, making sure they know what they got to do, making sure they know who you are, and they trust you a little bit more than they did before. And they may end up thinking… You know what, I’m gonna just do it because I think that person is okay”.

If you set goals and outcomes right, people will find a way to complete your mission.  “They’ll be in the right place at the right time to do those jobs”.

Recognize employees in a timely manner

Celebrate your employees’ success. Hold appreciation events, give quarterly awards, and recognize project completions. Scatter those event throughout the year, either in person or virtually.

It is important to honor group success is important, but it is equally important to recognize employees in a timely manner. Appreciate an achievement while it’s still in everybody’s head –within the teachable moment. Don’t wait for the annual performance review or the quarterly team event. If you wait too long, you miss the moment.

Crowdsource opportunities for appreciation

How do you find out about what to appreciate from employees when you are a senior leader? “You crowdsource good things among your own employees”.

This was the basis of ‘Tell me something good’, one of the successful programs Rick implemented at Thomson Reuters, inspired by Tom Mendoza, Chairman of NetApp and public speaker. “I wrote to employees, and I said, I’m going to start this program, I’d like you to send me an email with a phone number and employee name. Tell me a little bit about what they did [great]. Doesn’t have to be a big thing. Just tell me. Literally, over a couple of years, I got thousands of emails on that. The first time I picked up the phone and called them, I got their voicemail. And I’m like, befuddled by the voicemail, so I called Tom Mendoza back and I said, ‘Tom, what do you do when you get voicemail?’ ‘Rick, it’s the greatest thing! Just leave him a long message. They’ll play it for everybody. They’ll play it for their mother. It’ll be fantastic.’ So that’s what I did. When I got a voicemail, I left a message. And and, interestingly, after I leave the message, I get a call right back from that person. ‘How come you didn’t pick up the phone?’ ‘Well, we didn’t think it was you. We thought somebody was spoofing your number. And why would you call us? Wouldn’t it be bad? versus good? Why should we answer right? After I heard the message, I knew it was good”.

The success of this initiative was proven after Rick received thousands of calls from employees telling him great things that their colleagues had accomplished. 

Authenticity and personalization are key

“Any kind of appreciation that doesn’t have authenticity associated with it is going to go wrong”. People are really good at detecting whether someone, or something, is authentic or not. Don’t try to fake it.

When it comes to appreciation and recognition, personalization goes a long way. Being an effective communicator is really being an effective listener, so listen to what your employees have to say.

“Funky programs that you know, give meaningless things to people and automatically get awarded because it’s the time in the quarter to award them don’t mean as much to people as a personal approach, whether that personal approach is from their peers, from their manager, or from the executive team. But it should be personal and it should be authentic”.

Set high goals

Another effective ways of appreciating your employees is by setting high goals. According to Tom Mendoza, you are better off failing to meet some high expectations but still praising people for that than giving them a slam dunk one to complete so they can get 100% recognition for it. 

It’s important to make people feel they can accomplish and complete tasks, but “people know then it’s a stretch, and they really appreciate it”, say Rick.


It’s the small things that matter. Prioritize making a meaningful, authentic connections with people at work. Listen to people and focus on what brings you together at a personal level. Say thank you often, and always remember that your job is all about empowering your people to do their jobs.

HR Culture Month

This article works as supporting material for our podcast episode 46. You can read the transcript below. Make sure you check out all our other Talaera Talks episodes and subscribe to get new episode alerts.

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If you enjoyed this article, keep reading:

Talaera Talks – Episode 47

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Welcome to Talaera Talks, the business English communication podcast for non-native professionals. My name is Paola and I am co-hosting this show with Simon. In this podcast, we’re going to be covering communication advice and tips to help express yourself with confidence in English in professional settings. So we hope you enjoy the show!

Simon Kennell 0:24
All right, welcome back to another episode of Talaera Talks. My name is Simon. And as always, wherever you are, I hope you’re having a great day. I’m joined as always, again by Paola. Paola, how are you doing today?

Paola Pascual 0:38
I’m doing great. Thanks. How are you today?

Simon Kennell 0:41
I’m doing really well. We have another great guest today. And, Rick, we’d love to hear a little bit about yourself from yourself. But first, I’ll kind of give a small introduction. I think I cover some of the important parts, but there’s always so much more. So. Rick King, I guess can perhaps be best described as an innovation strategist who has very deep experience when it comes to cybersecurity digital transformation. Corporate IT integrations and corporate leadership, including most notably, two decades at Thomson Reuters in roles including Chief Technology Officer, Chief Information Officer, COO and Managing Director, along with overseeing the digital growth and transformation of the Canadian multinational media conglomerate that is Thomson Reuters. Rick has and still is, I believe, active on several boards, including *Huntington Bank* and American Public Media. More recently, Rick was tasked with taking on the role of chair during the Minneapolis St. Paul international airports. $1.6 billion overhaul. So this was a huge project, one that I think we’d be interested to hear about, as well. Rick earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Vermont, and a certificate in cybersecurity oversight from the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. So I thought, there’s just so much here and so much in your experience, Rick, I mean, there’s so many places to start. But really, I would love to start just to kind of hear a little bit about yourself. And if I’m not mistaken, you started off as a math teacher and coach, and then, you know, I guess one thing led to the other, and you ended up as the managing director at Thomson Reuters. So if I mean, was that always an idea on your path of what you saw for your future?

Rick King 2:49
Well, good morning, Simon and, Paola, great to be with you today. No, I have to say, No, my my, my career objective, when I started as a young person out of college was to be, you know, a teacher, a coach, a school principal, and then what we call in the in the States a superintendent, the person responsible for the school district. For some reason, I thought that I could run a better school district than whoever was doing it at the time. I don’t know what possessed me to have those thoughts. But I went through all of that. But I think the important part of the beginning was a focus on teaching and coaching, which came back later on. And frankly, then I’ll get to the latter part of the career probably 10 years in at Thomson Reuters. So certainly toward the end, I finally realized that it was almost like a full circle connection. That made me realize that you could look at a business through the people and coaching. And that would be a unique way to approach things. Now, granted, you mentioned all the technology roles that I had, which would predominantly what I did, but what I found that typical technologists look at the business through technology, typical marketing, people look at it through social media or campaigns, typical finance, people look at it through spreadsheets. Nobody, including HR people actually looked at it through a lens of people. That struck me kind of strangely, at the time, and I said, Why didn’t HR people look at it that way? Well, I think HR people were struggling to be at the big table and talk with everybody. And they needed to show their business prowess, so they typically didn’t espouse the employees as much as they should. And I kind of thought I could bring together my expertise and my interest in people and coaching and do it through technology. Do it as an executive at a business and you know that sort of, in the exercise, vernacular of your watch that closed loop for me on on one of those career things.

Paola Pascual 5:12
I love to hear that. And it’s so great to have you here, Rick today, especially for this topic. So today, we’re mainly talking about appreciation, and we’d love to hear your thoughts. And when people talk about appreciation these days, I feel that it’s sometimes come from more like the HR realm. But talking to you being you know, having so much experience in technology and cybersecurity and having, you know, being a senior executive, I love how you’ve been able to combine those worlds. And it just feels so so important, relevant.

Rick King 5:48
Yeah, I do want to emphasize my greatest partners in this whole journey were my HR team. But I don’t think I don’t think they had the juice to lead it, nor should they by themselves. That’s the key. And I think they would say they should lead it by themselves, most of them. Some of them have the juice, some of them don’t, but you need to get the line executives involved in this. And I think that’s something that made a difference for me and my career, both in terms of the way I felt and what I wanted to do. But more importantly, all these people that were working in our organization, not just mine, but in the total company. And, you know, you asked about the you know, the significance, I think of appreciation. And I think it’s always interesting to start out people, sometimes on the negative side, they think all this is just the fluffy stuff, you know, you can serve a good cake without the icing, you know, what’s all this about? And I gotta tell you how important appreciation is it’s not just appreciation. But if you’ve if you’ve read anything about thematic approaches to living and how people are innately interested in things, what you find is that the heart and the mind are the seat of a strong set of passions, and that there’s a hunger by people for personal recognition and accomplishment. That’s part of their, their self worth, and their significance. So if you look at the motivations of somebody in the world, and that’s the basis of what people think, appreciation becomes one of the most important aspects of trying to accomplish the mission that you set out to do.

Simon Kennell 7:42
Yeah, yeah. And so I think you’ve made so many good points in there. And the first one, from an HR perspective, I think, is so interesting about the kind of transformation that HR has been under over the past 20-30 years of this role of just being an administrative role, you know, and then you want to get a seat at the table. So you need to make more business analytical decisions, as opposed to this, right where you would call it fluffy, right, which isn’t really that it’s, you know, focusing on the people as your internal customer, and what are their needs, right? And how did you see a shift in this? Or did you see a shift in this over over these 20 years at Thomson Reuters, where it was going from more administrative kind of business focus to more people focused, more people centric, did you see this kind of shift happen? And if so, how did that happen?

Rick King 8:39
Well, I do I do think over that, over that 20 year period, I saw significant movement happening. And I think the satisfaction of the HR professionals to be able to have more contribute to the overall business that way became important, and I think ebbed and flowed a little bit during the times when, you know, employment levels or being able to get in employees was an employer game. Employers sort of could call the shots. And I don’t think that until they realized that they weren’t getting the full commitment of the people that that they sort of started to morph and say, well, we’ve got these great people, how do we enroll them more fully? And now, in the last few years, it’s gotten even more significant. So the people that were pre positioned as thinking about it being more in employee oriented scenario versus employers are better situated today. During this time of difficulty with both retention and recruitment of good people. People pretty much can call their shots career wise, including going on to the sidelines and those companies and I think Thomson Reuters was one in general, who did the right things with people along the way. They did the right things in a variety of areas, including expanding things like parental leave, and stuff like that, that are important to people. Listened to the people and did that. And then when when these kinds of situations come, like we’re faced today, with all of the resignations, and people staying on the sidelines, it’s the companies that do the things that the employees really were advocating for, that are doing better than the other ones, you know, and, frankly, not just these programs, like I just mentioned, but the idea of appreciation and understanding and having ways to recognize people for their good work. Part of it is the idea that you have career progression. Part of it is certainly based on compensation, and part of it is just simple. I see you doing good work.

Simon Kennell 11:03
Right. And we we, you know, we talked about this previously, and one of our webinars around employee engagement, and like you said, this whole, you know, the, the Great Resignation, and all of this concept that’s happening now, where people can call the shots. And one of the things that we really boiled down to, and a lot of the people that we spoke with was, it really comes down to and you mentioned this about line managers, and that that individual relationship that employees have with their managers, and so much of that is recognition and appreciation for the things that they’re doing. Could you touch a little bit just on with your experience, kind of going through your your career progression, what was that? Like? Was that something that you all like you had to develop a skill you had to develop as a manager? And then an executive? Or was this something that were the principles of this that you took away from from the coaching and the teaching that you mentioned at the beginning?

Rick King 11:57
Yeah, so I think I think as I look back at some of the background that I had, and teaching and coaching certainly helped. So innately, I think you would develop those things, perhaps faster and realize the strength of them in terms of what you’re trying to do. I mean, after all, if you equate it to a sport, you put the best players into certain positions, you have a game plan, you practice. And then you you execute, and you adjust as things go on. And you work with individuals to perfect their skills, and you work with a team to perfect its collective skill. And then, you know, there’s all kinds of opportunities for for recognition in there. How parallel is that to what you would do in a, in a, in a good functioning company? It’s, it’s exactly the same only rather than maybe dealing with high school kids or college kids. You’re dealing with some strata of professionals from beginning professional to people along in, in their in their journey. But the the idea that no matter what age they are, whether you’re a little might in a in a sport, or you’re up to somebody who’s close to retirement, you appreciate being recognized for the work that you do. And I would say that he you’re right, all of the surveys on employee engagement, show that the employee’s manager, their direct supervisor is the one that they feel has the most credibility. And then as you go up the management ranks, the credibility tends to decline. It doesn’t always have to, but the people they trust the most, are the people that are closest to them that they see the most often. So that’s important. That means as a leader, you’re one of those ones up there, I want my, you know, my confidence level to be the same as that line manager, and how do you do that? That’s the key. One thing that you have to do is, as a leader, you need to set out what it is you’re, you want everybody to do, what’s the mission here. And up, you’ve got to make sure that all those line managers and all the people between you and the employees know the same mission, they know what you’re trying to do. They know how you’re accomplishing it. They know that you’ll go to battle for the resources that are required. And then if that’s communicated down through all of the ranks, that you’ll you’ll have increasing increasing confidence. I think that one of the issues there is always one of you know, the telephone game, where if you pass along things through multiple channels, it gets a little muddled each time and you muddle upon muddle, gives you double muddle. And sometimes your message doesn’t get through. So my, my strategy was sort of the same as coaching. But my strategy was this, always use the line managers communicate through the chain of command, the line managers are the ones that are going to give the direction, you are the one giving the mission. But in a separate form of communication disintermediate all of the people in between, and get your message, right to the employee level. Don’t rely solely on this pass down. But don’t skip that. Do something in addition, so I call it disintermediation of all the middle. And you can do that by making sure that when you are giving direction, if you have a global group, and you don’t see them all the time, you use forms that include video where you can where people can watch it, see it, you can have it translated as required, depending on what’s what, what groups are being shared with, and make sure that people have the opportunity to hear from you directly. And then of course, there’s all the site visits that you do and and what you do, when you go visit a location is really important, especially if you’re only going to be there maybe once a year, to see that group of whatever it is a couple 100, a couple 1000, whatever the number happens to be. My approach was when I go there, I want to be with small groups of employees, the managers will have a separate meeting, we’ll talk to them, I want to get to as many people face to face as I can on that trip. And it’s not just on a stage in front of everybody, we do that. But that’s not good enough, you know, I want to engage them personally find out a little bit about them, and so forth. And most often what I tried to do, one year, I said, I’m going to walk by everybody’s desk, no matter where you work. So it involves planning trips to each location. And then when they’re just walking up to their desk, and saying hello, and it was you know, it was less than usually a minute, it could be two minutes. But it was at the place where they work. And you know, you see their family pictures in there, or their little tchotchkes or whatever they got, and you can engage in a conversation. And I’m telling you in that kind of thing, and knowing a little bit about what some of them do. There’s some kind of connection that’s formed, that helps you when you say, here’s what we got to do, we’ve got this big huge thing we want to do. And they go, you know, that person, they were pretty human, they were kind of real. They came by, they said they like donuts, I like them too. You know, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Paola Pascual 17:58
I love that. Yeah, it’s so it’s so important to be able to, to show that human aspect because when I feel when people are on stage, they can be great, great speakers, but it’s so hard to be an actual human that you can, you know, relate to. So by having that face to face, even if it’s just a minute or two, as you said, it really, really helps build that that trust that you were saying. So yeah, I’m totally with you, and having that at least small groups or one to one.

Rick King 18:30
Yeah, the other part that you mentioned there, embedded in that was really critical. And you know, this is communication prose. It’s two way communication versus one way communication. I mean, that’s, that’s where you get engagement. So it’s good to maybe speak in front of the whole group, because that, that’s, that’s good. But if that’s what your mission is to go there and do, you’re missing it. That’s just a small piece.

Simon Kennell 18:56
And that kind of touches on this one point, which I think is so interesting, because there is this, this kind of cliche of the executive who’s out of touch and just doesn’t know what all of us down here at the, you know, the floor doing, and there is that kind of cliche of that person being removed. But when you’re going and then you’re meeting with a handful of employees, like what does that what does that conversation look like? I mean, what are those questions that you’re asking? Because I think, you know, it could be that you’re just mean just to kind of get to know them? Or are you trying to dig deeper about their problems? Or how does that look?

Rick King 19:38
Yeah, I mean, keep in mind, one of the things sometimes my my leadership team or the managers get a little nervous because you’re going to talk to people and I don’t exclude them from coming, but they end up excluding themselves because of what I say it’s about the employees. I’m not gonna give them work direction. So that’s a promise, but I Am I you know, if they tell me something that’s going on, and I’m concerned about it, I certainly will highlight it. But that’s not my purpose, my purposes and probing about what’s going wrong or something like that. But I’m open to that my purpose is to make a connection with them. So I do, I’m interested in what they do. What I usually say something like, tell me a little bit about your daily work, and then tell me what you do when you’re out of work. What’s your favorite thing? And if that’s when we’re in a small group, and if we go to their, to their desk, location, their cube, whatever it happens to be, I, we don’t script anything, I just see what I can tell in their cube, I always come up with something to ask them about. There’s some, there’s always some tip, there’s a certificate frame, there’s a little tchotchke, there’s a picture of somebody, there’s a pet picture, who knows, there’s an I asked them about that. Now, if they want to offer to me some advice about something that’s not going right, I’m all yours and write it down. And we’ll definitely follow up. And they will hear about that back from their from their team when I just pass it on to their boss and say, look into this and let you know, and then let the employee know. Sometimes it alright, the employee back if they suggest something and say thank you. But my purpose in talking to them is a personal connection more than getting something like that out of them. So that’s the.. And people say, Oh, how do you have time to do that? They say, that is my job. I mean, what do I do? I lay out the objectives with the executive team, I fight for the right resources and make sure the objective objectives tie in, that’s a different part of the job. The other part of the job is having the team to do the job, period. That’s the most important thing. So what else would I do? Go into my office and look at spreadsheets? No way. It’s it’s about the people that are working there, making sure they know what they got to do, making sure they know who you are, and they trust you a little bit more than they did before. And they’ll go they may… You know what, I’m gonna just do it because I think that person is okay. Yeah.

Paola Pascual 22:18
I love how it’s such a priority for you. And that I guess that’s exactly what what makes a difference later.

Rick King 22:27
I think I think so. And I’ll tell you, I think many would maybe say that, I might take this to an extreme, but I think it is my focus, and we got all our work done. We have over achieved objectives, even difficult ones. So I just say I rest my case on results and outcomes. And I’m more concerned with outcomes than I am with, you know, butts in seats, as they say. So, you know, I, I, if we set goals right, and we set outcomes right, doesn’t really matter where people are to complete those missions. They’ll be in the right place at the right time to do those jobs. And to me that unknowingly translated perfectly to the pandemic, you know, we can just go on about our work. It’s the places that had ill defined outcomes that had the most difficulty in terms of completing the tasks. But I think I was gonna mention that, a couple of things around recognition that you asked about that, I think relate to this. When we go to those sites, I’d always do, we’d always do recognition events, people that did things we tried to do employee to employee program, so allow an employee to nominate employee a lot of places do that. And then do quarterly awards, and also recognize project completion, success, and those columns scattered throughout the year, of course, and then whether you can do that in person or whether you do it virtually. I think it’s really important. And if you wait too long, you missed the moment. So I think it’s more like you know, you’ve got to do it. It’s there’s a teachable moment it ends you, you successfully celebrate it, and then you go on. I love the comment that Michael Dell made one time and he said, you can always have time for a nanosecond of celebration. And it really kind of brought to me the mindset that you know, you should be doing this right when it’s really in everybody’s head if you wait a month, a quarter or whatever, you know, people are on two different projects and you’ve lost, you’ve lost the moment. So I think the group’s success is important.

Simon Kennell 25:02
Yeah. And did you? Did you ever have a manager that you or someone that was above you that you felt did that really well with you? And that kind of helped you strive and push a little bit further?

Rick King 25:18
Yeah, I have quite a few, you know, I would call them the leaders you work for the mentors that you had over the years. The lot of times some of those people, they, they always did certain things, and you kind of cobbled them into your own style. And some of them you never even worked for. I’ll give you an example. There’s a gentleman by the name of Tom Mendoza. Tom was chairman of a company called NetApp, when it was created a storage company and so forth. And he did quite well with that. Very dynamic speaker, motivator and focusing on people to great success. And I, I learned a lot from him. One time, he told me something that well, he’s told me a lot of things. But one of the things he told me was he said, You know, I, I’ve put out in my, in my company, the fact that if, if an employee sees another employee do something phenomenal, they should call me or write. And I will call that employee who did that great thing and say, Thank you. And he talked to me about the calls he’s made and all that kind of stuff. And it was it was phenomenal. And Tom, Tom had a voice like this, I’ll try to voice Tom. So like, Rick is phenomenal. When you’re talking to these people, I listen to them. So I’m like, okay, Tom. And I said to myself, I’m going to do that, I’m going to do that. In fact, I’m going to throw a little branding around it and a little music with it, I’m going to call it “Tell me something good”. And you all remember that little music piece that goes with it. Let’s not think about what it’s about at the moment. But you know, and I wrote to employees, and I said, I’m going to start this program, I’d like you to send me an email with a phone number and employee name. Tell me a little bit about what they did. Doesn’t have to be a big thing. Just tell me. Literally, over a couple of years, I got 1000s of emails on that. So here’s what would happen. Pick up the phone and call them. The first time I did, I got their voicemail. And I’m like, befuddled by the voicemail. Right. So I called Tom Mendoza back. And I said, Tom, what do you do when you get voicemail? Rick, it’s the greatest thing! Just leave him a long message. They’ll play it for everybody. They’ll play it for their mother. It’ll be fantastic. Like, okay, all right. So that’s what I did. When I got a voicemail, I left a message. And and, interestingly, after I leave the message, I get a call right back from that person. You know, I didn’t say how come you didn’t pick up the phone? Well, we didn’t think it was you. We thought somebody was spoofing your number, blah, blah, blah, why and why would you call us? Wouldn’t it be bad? versus good? Why should we answer right? After I heard the message, I knew it was good. Anyway, that broke down after a while too. And but you talk to these people and say, Hey, Bill, just really glad that, you know, Roxanne told me that you did this in this project. And that was really wonderful really helped the customer. Thank you. And they’re just like, stuck. Yeah. And 1000s of calls like that. And I started getting calls from people that didn’t work in my organization. I would get this email and say, you know, XYZ did this. And I’m like, I don’t think she works. Where does she work? Oh, she’s a salesperson in Asia. She did something great for customer during, you know, the SARS thing or whatever. So I call her up and I’m not even sure they know who I am. I just call them up. Say, Hey, I heard he did this great thing. Thank you. They’re like stunned. It’s the most amazing thing. And talk about recognition – How do you find out? You crowdsource good things with your own employees. And then they tell you and then you call the people. Yeah, it’s amazing.

Paola Pascual 29:50
I love this on so many angles. For for the exact reasons that you mentioned, but also because you know how you were just saying about that that time where you Call them they didn’t pick up. And I went to the voicemail because they were expecting something bad. And I think that’s something that happens all too frequently, that when we get a call from our manager, we just expect something bad. But opening up that line of communication and trust, it’s so powerful. And it really allows you to get to know other people to hear the feedback that they they have, but they may not be perhaps they don’t, they don’t feel like they’re, they’re able to speak up. So I just love it on some in so many ways.

Rick King 30:33
It was a phenomenal program. I tell people about it, because it’s so simple. And I’ll go back to another question. I’m sorry, Simon, I didn’t. You know, people say to me, how do you have time to do all this? And I keep reminding them, this is my job. This is my job. My job, I don’t produce widgets, I don’t write code. I don’t do any of that stuff. I need to get people here who do the work, keep them here. Get them motivated, keep them focusing on our goals and objectives and deliver our outcomes. That’s my job. And that’s where that circle came to me, you know, where you just realize you are doing coaching and teaching. That’s what you’re here doing. You’re just doing it in a different environment than where you actually started your career. And, you know, going back to this, this “Tell me something good”. So you’re talking one on one to employee anywhere in the world about their accomplishments, you’re doing. Appreciation, but you’re also, you know, I let the managers know that this is happening most often the employee tells the manager they got a call. And they’re like, what? That’s amazing. You know, it wasn’t the manager who generally nominated the people, it was a fellow employee. But the whole idea just builds this thing where you’re, you know, what’s going on, you know, what they do you appreciate what they do. Even though you only have a speck look at it, you really don’t have a full look. And you don’t claim you do but they they get the feeling that you’re on top of it.

Paola Pascual 32:08
Yeah, you’ve shared so many, so many gems and great pieces of advice. Like we’ve talked about group success, and crowdsourcing all these great opportunities for appreciation. You talked about this “Tell me something good” with one on ones. You also even mentioned the the in the psychology of motivation, we talk about delayed gratification, and how it’s much better to do it at the right time. So all those are great, great tips. But do you in your experience, is there an ineffective way to to appreciate people?

Rick King 32:46
I think so this is where you get to some of the leadership traits, I think that are that are pretty important. So if you think about that, if you think about one of the leadership traits that’s important is being very authentic. And you know, if I’m in front of people, I mean, most people will know two things about me if they’re an employee base, and I can, I can tell you how they know that. Because I also wrote a blog, and my blog was not about business at all. And I can tell you how I got to that journey. But authenticity is a key word so people can fish through when you’re in authentic. So any kind of appreciation that doesn’t have authenticity associated with it is going to go wrong. And you can’t be, you know, people say, Well, how do you know that person did what they said there? They were doing? Well, I’m getting that from one of their employees from one of their colleagues, I’m just going to trust that it went on, you know, I don’t need to validate it and inspect it. So I think I think authenticity is one of those things, I think the other thing that you have to do to be effective at this is marry the idea that you know, you’re a much better listener than anything else. The golden ratio of two years to one mouth is critically important, if we focus that way. So being an effective communicator is really being an effective listener. And, and, you know, I think when you think them, listen to what they have to say, and when you talk to them, listen to what they have to say. I think that funky programs that you know, give meaningless things to people and automatically get awarded because it’s the time in the quarter to award them don’t mean as much to people as a personal approach, whether that personal approach is from their peers, from their manager, from the executive over there group should be personal should be authentic. And then I think, you know, I think that people appreciate that. I think that’s where you go right. And not go wrong.

Simon Kennell 35:11
Rick, do you feel like because you have obviously had so much experience in different organizations being a board member, do you see a common thread of this being, you know, employee appreciation, employee engagement as being a common thread for like winning organizations for successful organizations? And, you know, on the other side of that, do you see that that the do you see that being a thing that’s lacking in organizations that maybe aren’t performing as well as they should be?

Rick King 35:43
I would say yes to both. I believe that the potential that the people in the organization bring to the business can be fully developed and capitalized on when the people in the business know what the objectives are, and that completing them, they will be appreciated in multiple forms. And, you know, you can’t always like pay somebody 1000s of dollars of bonus for something that’s, that’s probably not expected, but you got to pay fairly, give them the right equipment to work with, give them the right teams to work with root out things that are good for those teams, let’s say. And then I think, set high goals. And that’s one of the things one of the other things that Tom Mendoza mentioned, to me just said in his leadership, one of the things that he felt a lot of people fell short with was how high in unlimited expectations and that you’re much better off failing to meet some but still praising people for that. They’re giving such a giving a slam dunk one to complete so that they can be 100% recognition around that is really important if you want people to feel like they completed things, but people know when it’s a stretch, and they really appreciate it. So a reasonable stretch is a good thing. And he called out hi unlimited expectations, which I think is another way, I don’t think you can do that in an organization where you’re not appreciating people or you’re not recognizing people properly. And if it’s a mechanical thing, it won’t work, it’s got to be really intrinsic in the value proposition that that company is offering the employees. And I do think the companies that do that will have better outcomes than the companies that don’t. And I think the companies that are behind in that are trying to catch up, because right now, it’s, you know, you can’t get away with it any longer. And you know, whether this isn’t probably going to last for ever, it will flip it like it always does. But let’s hope that more and more companies adopt these kinds of things, and then really see the improvement in the outcomes going forward and don’t win when it becomes an employer market, again, dump some of these really important things.

Simon Kennell 38:21
Yeah, absolutely. And if you see, like you said, the proof is there, you know, you rest your case on organizations being more effective, obviously, retention, and you know, how much money that saves the organization, and then how effective the, the organization becomes when you have these types of employee engagement programs. And that actually work right. And it will be very interesting to see what happens in the next two to three years, you know, you see certain companies and and the the big topic is always around working remotely versus in the office, right? And whether employees can can do the hybrid thing, or do they have to be forced to come back into the office. And people are saying, well, look at Google first, it’s hybrid, and then they’re gonna bring everybody back into the office. And then you know, that’s how it goes. Just as a last kind of topic here touching on that. I mean, what are your thoughts on what you think will happen going into the next two or three years around employee engagement and how working remotely versus working in the office plays into that? Do you think are you glad that that’s something you didn’t have to necessarily deal with when you’re COO at Thomson? Reuters?

Rick King 39:36
No, I’m not glad I didn’t have to deal with it actually, that I think it’s a it’s an interesting opportunity. And what I what I really like, is that we’ve got the technology to be remote to do that. So I think I would come I would say my view is that we’re working on different forms of hybrid is where we need to be. The question, the question that I have is just how often do we need to get together as a team physically? And how do we accomplish that in an organized pattern, and, you know, we had, we had groups in Thomson Reuters, that were totally remote. And what we did was, you know, once a month or once a quarter, that group would, would have a face to face meeting, and they’d spend the day together. And that works, okay. You know, the geography caused a lot of us to have to be remote from our teams and, and get together once in a while, but not all the time. So I think it’s all doable. I think the one area that I worry about, and I think we’re gonna have to create some kind of new new employee Mentor Program is when new people come in, I think they, they need more than just, you know, here’s your equipment and go to your home office, and we’ll see you every month for a meeting or something, we need to, we need to attach a more rigorous orientation, there might need to be more time in the office more meeting with people just to get going but not as as, as a as a full time piece. Before I for I left, I mentioned before doing a blog. And that was another way that I was looking to directly link up with employees, we talked a lot about the hybrid model, because we were, you know, we were in the pandemic for about a year before I retired. So we still dealt with that a lot. And there was a lot of a lot of wondering, you know, we thought we’re going to be back in three months or something like that, and look what it turned out to be. But the fact is that the technology enabled everybody to do, by and large, what they needed to do remotely, we had some that had to come in still. And I think that’s the way of the future is be here, when you need to be here, which all of a sudden opens a whole different opportunity for recruiting, you know, you’re not saying hey, you got to move to Minneapolis, or you got to move to Warsaw or wherever you wherever your location is, you can you can work remotely and people that don’t have at least the hybrid option, are probably going to lose out on some great, great talent.

Simon Kennell 42:30
Yeah. Yeah, it is a it’s an interesting, interesting point, you know, definitely in HR but for organizations as a whole, right? And how do we, how do we navigate that? And then how do we, while doing this, touching back on the point, how do we appreciate our employees, you know, that are remote and doing that in a way that isn’t just a platitude or a quick message, but something that actually, you know, stands out to people and makes them feel engaged? Right. That’s a, that’s a very interesting question. And one that I think, you know, there’ll be a lot of interesting research on in the next couple of years. So, indeed. And, you know, for me, I think probably the big takeaway, which I thought was really interesting today, that you mentioned was the kind of the trickle down approach of, you know, communicating down through line managers, but then also yourself going through, and kind of making touch points. And following along. I think that’s just a really interesting way of, of making sure that communication is, is flowing throughout different levels in the organization. And I really appreciate you, you know, staying on today and, and all of your all of your tips and experience, I think is going to be very helpful, not only from a communication standpoint, but also just in general for all of our listeners out there. So yeah, definitely. Thank you very much.

Rick King 43:57
Sure. Simon, there’s two things that following that point that you might listeners might be interested in. I mentioned the blog. So I just want to talk about the transition. When I started writing the blog. I wrote three blogs internally a week, that was my goal. And I thought, okay, every, I’ll do a business topic. Couple times, and I’ll do a personal sort of topic and the readership of the business topics was much lower than the personal ones. What I began to realize is that in the interaction, the comments, the dialogue back, people feel like they’re on an uneven platform when you’re talking business strategy or something with an Executive leader, they, it’s harder to engage. I stopped writing anything about the business, by the way, very quickly, and I started writing more personally and it fell right into that engagement of one on one through people all over the place. And so I’m a pie baker. So I wrote a lot about pies. And I also like cheeseburgers. So I wrote a lot about cheeseburgers. And so food is always a big topic that when you talk about food, everybody’s equal, everybody has an opinion, everybody’s engaged. And here’s what happened. It’s interesting. So people read, they respond. And there I wrote 1000s of blogs and tons of feedback on on the blogs. One time I was in one of our office locations, and not in the States, somewhere in Europe, I got a an elevator, and somebody who I’d never met before, turns around and says, there’s a good cheeseburger place here in town. And I’m like, Oh, well, who…? You know, I’m ready. Yeah, I know who you are. And so who are you? And they tell me and they were. So this happened multiple times. Wow. And it is the engagement of something that they’re interested in that, you know, personally, it’s a personality piece, putting it out there. And it really struck me, if you can walk through the hallway, incidentally, on that, tell me something good thing, I have actually heard my voice in the hallway coming out of a person’s voicemail where they were playing it for their colleagues, that they got a message. So Tom Mendoza, he was right. Those little things of engagement are important. The last one I’ll mention to you was really kind of funny. This was not at Thomson Reuters, it was at a company before that. We were having a communications, discussion, and sort of, we had this. I call it pre AI thing, looking at our calendars, and our mailboxes and telling us, you know, where are we spending more time in meetings, and this and that, and the other thing, and they came into this executive session, and they said, you know, your, your group looks pretty normal, except for one person. One person had twice as many emails, as the as the rest. And the executive team. I knew it was me, by the way, the executive team was just talking about how you could be stuck in your office, you’re doing all these emails, this person, obviously was insane with emails, and maybe doing them all the time. And I said, Well, that was me. And I know why. And they looked at me like, What do you mean? And I said, when an employee sends me something, I say, thank you. So I automatically doubled the number of emails that I get. So I said, do you say thank you to people when they do something, or they tell you something? Everybody looked around the table and said, No, I said, I rest my case, I think saying thank you is better. And it doesn’t really add to a lot of my email time.

Paola Pascual 48:06
One of those small steps that can make a difference in the long run.

Simon Kennell 48:12
Absolutely. Yeah.

Paola Pascual 48:15
Yeah, this is this, there’s so many things that I would love to keep talking with, with you for hours and hours. But I feel like with everything that you’ve shared today, our listeners will have so much to take on. And I really, really appreciate. And this is a really honest, thank you for for taking the time and sharing all of this with us.

Rick King 48:35
Happy to and if you know if if people feel like this was useful, and you want to do something again, I’m always happy to do that. With you. I think for the listeners, hopefully, you just take one or two of these ideas and implement them in your own way. In your workplace, I promise you, you will get better outcomes.

Simon Kennell 49:00
Perfect. Yeah. And there’s already one of those that I wanted to start doing right away. And yeah, I don’t know, my phone bill may go up a little bit, but I think it’ll be worth it. I’ll definitely, definitely check into this so, thank you very much, Rick. So I think we’re gonna end it there for everybody listening. Definitely check out Rick, people can follow you on LinkedIn. And they can reach out if any questions and as well. Yeah, you know, we’d love to hear any thoughts that any of the listeners out there have. But I just want to say one last time again, thank you so much for taking the time today. I know you’re very busy man. So I appreciate that. And I think all of our listeners definitely do. So thank you very much, Rick. Paola, any last comments, questions? Anything like that before we wrap up today?

Paola Pascual 49:49
No, this was such a great discussion. Rick. I don’t know if there’s anything else that you would like to mention before we wrap it up. Wrap it up for today?

Rick King 49:57
No, I think I think that’ll do it. I just appreciate the fact that the two of you invited me and we could share some things. And hopefully it is useful for folks. And I’m glad you are focusing on this on on your podcast because I think it is a really important thing. And it’s if if if people are having trouble keeping employees or bringing employees back or all of the issues of having the best people working at your place of business. This is critical.

Simon Kennell 50:27
There you go. There you go said from the man himself. Absolutely. Well, thank you again, Rick. And thank you, Paola, and to all of our listeners out there, as always, keep learning.

Outro 50:40
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