Excerpt from The Power of Thanks by Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine.

The Globoforce Fall 2012 Workforce Mood Tracker™ Survey found that 83 percent of employees departing a company rate culture as important in looking for a new job; only 45 percent of departing employees feel their old company had a positive culture.

At a company like JetBlue, senior executives demonstrate and model their cultural values. In the early years of JetBlue, founder and CEO David Neeleman occasionally took the job of a cabin crewman, serving customers to demonstrate they came first, even before the CEO.

When we talk to HR leaders at companies that really want to manage their cultures, they tell us, “Our CEO isn’t giving this lip service. He (or she) has outright demanded this happen; this is the way we will behave at the company. We are moving ahead with improving and
managing our culture, and everybody is paying attention.”

The CEO and HR set the task and the tone, but just as culture is what people do when nobody’s watching (or at least when the boss isn’t watching), how can culture permeate the beliefs and behaviors of every person in an organization? There are several ways, but only one of them is sustainable.

  1. The CEO and HR can dedicate every moment of their working lives to promoting company culture.
  2. The company can find and hire only people who already completely understand the right culture and will instinctively follow it with no prompting.
  3. The company can adopt the practice we call a culture of recognition, in which every single employee is responsible for saying “Thanks!”— recognizing, celebrating, appreciating, and promoting the desired cultural values.

We have spent more than a decade studying and crafting a set of practices, beliefs, and values that enable culture to thrive. You might call it an operating system for company culture—an enabling technology for proactive culture management. It is a culture of recognition, which is a set of beliefs, habits, and values that affirm and drive all other values, actions, and results of a company.

  • Do you want more teamwork?—Then recognize it!
  • Do you need innovation?—Then celebrate it!
  • Do you want employees to give extra effort (engagement)?—Then acknowledge it!
  • Do you believe every expression of a company value is important?— Then appreciate it!

A culture of recognition engages, energizes, and empowers employees; it can mean the difference between failure and success for companies in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace. A culture of recognition propels your organization’s unique culture ahead. By doing so, it also drives performance and profits.

Senior executives in the C-suite and HR are too busy for Option 1, and Option 2 is almost impossible. That leaves Option 3, and that’s what The Power of Thanks is about.