Raising the level of your leadership

I'd Rather Have A Rubber Chicken

RubberChickenAfter 25 years, the traditional recognition award is a watch—recognition for long service (I got one). It says, well, “you have been here a long time.” Most employees would rather have received a rubber chicken about 20 years earlier.

That’s what they do at Yum Brands. CEO David Novak gives out rubber chickens as recognition for exemplary performance. Everyone wants a rubber chicken. It is proof that the company knows who is “bringing it” every day, or “saved the bacon” during an emergency. It is proof of being known and appreciated. Every employee wants to be known and appreciated—personally, not just as part of a group or team.

Now, rubber chicken awards may seem silly to you, but at YUM (KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell), they are a central part of a culture that says The Only Way To Make BIG Things Happen (the sub-title of Novak’s book) is by Taking People With You (the title of Novak’s book). Does it work? Oh, yeah. YUM has outperformed the S&P 500 by an average 12% per year since 1997. That means $1000 invested in the S&P 500 in 1997 would be worth about $1850 today; $1000 invested in YUM would be worth about $6500 today.

There is more to employee—or volunteer—morale and engagement than recognition alone, but it is a good starting place. What have you done lately to personally recognize employees (or volunteers) who “bring it” everyday, or have “saved the bacon” recently? It could be a personal note, a gift card for a car wash or lunch, a cup of coffee in your office, or a ______________________________. (You fill in the blank and let me know what has worked for you by sending a comment.)

If you are the leader, get started today. Right now, get up, go tell someone how much you appreciate her contribution to the organization. Better yet, give him a rubber chicken or _______________. Pick someone else and do it again tomorrow, and the day after, and….

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© Copyright 2013 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company

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