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The remarkable power of the right recognition

Nov 10, 2014

Written by: Mark Hirschfeld
(View Author Bio)

Our global research into the elements of highly engaged employees is called The New Rules of EngagementSM.  One of the twelve rules that drives higher employee engagement is to “magnify the success” of our employees, where we recognize and celebrate when our associates have made meaningful contributions to the success of our organization.

People applauding colleague on recognition BI WORLDWIDE Latin America.


At BI WORLDWIDE, we use the principles of behavioral economics to create the best engagement strategies on the planet. We work with expert academics who advise us on the latest research on human behavior, engagement and decision-making. We use non-cash rewards and recognition to engage and motivate employees and sales teams. Check out our case study library to see how our customized and results-driven solutions have helped clients all over the world.

The great basketball coach John Wooden, who holds the record for winning the most NCAA championships, was known for his meticulous approach to teaching every element of the game, even seemingly minor tasks.

At the beginning of each season, Coach Wooden showed his players how to properly put on their socks and shoes. Now, his players had been putting on socks and shoes to play basketball long before they came to college and surely they knew how to perform this simple chore. But along with showing them the proper way (and there is a proper way) he also told them why it was important. In this case, Coach Wooden told them the proper method would keep their feet healthy and free of blisters and that was important because players couldn’t perform at their best if their feet hurt. Finally, Coach Wooden’s training accentuated the behavior he was looking for by a phrase his players heard frequently:

“Like this,” he would say.

Coach Wooden’s approach to building a successful basketball team was to reinforce the behaviors he wanted and then tell them why those behaviors led to success – in this case, winning championships.

What impact can Coach Wooden’s approach to success have in the world of business? Specifically, does recognizing behaviors the organization views as important have a bottom-line impact?

Is “like this” a competitive differentiator?

We recently conducted a novel study with a global retailer. For several years the retailer has offered opportunities for managers and peers to post recognitions on an online portal hosted by BI WORLDWIDE. To conduct our study, we analyzed the results of recognitions from two different regions of the chain for which we had business results, specifically store sales and customer service ratings.

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Mark Hirschfeld

Mark Hirschfeld

Vice President of Sales Engagement Strategy

Mark Hirschfeld is Vice President of Sales Engagement Strategy at BI WORLDWIDE. He’s passionate about helping companies develop more engaged, productive places to work. Mark is the co-author of "Re-Engage: How America’s Best Places to Work Inspire Extra Effort In Extraordinary Times", published by McGraw-Hill.