I ran across this video today and was immediately struck by how validation can serve in our internal organizational communications.
First, you have to watch the video (just click on the photo -- and yes, that's one of the guys from the TV series Bones). It's about 16 minutes long, but well worth your time -- at least it was worth mine. I loved it.
Now, without giving too much away, we've all gotten our parking vouchers validated so we can get free parking. Not only does this guy stamp your ticket, but he also validates you. He's not being silly, or even making backhanded compliments...he's just pointing out the best in each person he meets. And the end result is amazing.
It is a growing belief, backed by research, that investing in employee morale and culture results in higher profits. See the Employee-Customer Profit Chain article at HBSP for one such report. You can also listen to Rick Garlick of Martiz Research talk about this on my radio show. Even from the branding side there are many gurus out there today who are suggesting the strongest brands are generated, in part, by strong employee development.
What strikes me here is that in our organizational communications we can do a better job of not just highlighting the work of someone (e.g. "And special thanks to Joan for her work this month on getting volunteers for the community clean up.") but dive a bit deeper into the qualities that made Joan successful, (e.g. "Our community clean up this month was a result of Joan's strong organizational skills and her can-do attitude. She is really good at taking on big tasks and making them enjoyable for others to participate.") It's very different to have your work recognized versus having yourself validated. Not to mention, this type of validating recognition also identifies the behaviors that are important to an organization, and shoudl be modeled.
In external communications, I think our communities also want to hear these types of validating comments about staff or employees. Knowing the above validating statements about Joan makes me want to work with her when I call. It gives me an idea of the kind of experience I might have interacting with her. And that experience directly translates into positive brand associations.
As you plan out the next edition of your organization's newsletter or even awards section of your all-staff meeting, rather than just recognizing the people who did this or that, try validating them as individuals first. Let their actions speak for themselves.
-- David Kinard, PCM