Last week, my colleague Victoria and I attended a conference where we listened to several inspirational speakers on various HR issues. One of the speakers was David Novak, Executive Chairman of YUM! Brands, one of the world’s largest restaurant corporations. Novak has been named “2012 CEO of the Year” by Chief Executive magazine and one of the “100 Best Performing CEOs in the World” by the Harvard Business Review.
The first question that Novak asks us in the audience is “How many here believe that you can achieve great things on your own?” No one dared to raise their hand; obviously we need to be more than one to accomplish great things. Novak talks about the importance of a leadership where you get people with you. In 2012 he published the book “Taking People with You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen”.
One of Novak’s most important success factors is to recognize and celebrate behaviors that lead to success – The Power of recognition! He emphasizes that recognition doesn’t have to be about expensive things – it’s all about the symbolic value. During his time at Kentucky Fried Chicken he rewarded employees with a rubber chicken and during his time at Pizza Hut it was a cheese shaped hat. These symbolic trophies recognized the employees and made them feel valued and valuable. Through actively working with recognition Novak created a culture where everyone wanted to be involved and contribute to the “Big Things” that happened!
We know that lack of appreciation is a common reason why people choose to quit their jobs, and recognition is closely linked to engagement. What we can all learn from Novak is that it doesn’t have to be difficult to do something about it – all it takes is a little ingenuity in terms of the symbols you use and leadership that is present enough to notice what and when employees are doing the right things!