Here’s something everyone already knows, but no one does enough of.

In August of 2009, the mountain rescue team I volunteer for was called to recover the body of a man who died on the summit of a 14,000 foot peak.  The mission was remarkable because of the heroic attempts of the hikers who were on the peak at the time to save the man’s life after he had an apparent heart attack; they performed CPR for 45 minutes, working together as a team.   (If you’re interested in hearing more about it, here’s a previous blog entry on the subject)

We made a big deal out of it; we sent commendations to the hikers from the county Sheriff, we wrote an article about it for the local newspaper, and we posted the story on our blog and social media sites.

Then, three months later, this past December, we were called to rescue an injured paraglider on the same peak.  Once again, he was near the summit, making for a long, tough evacuation.  Seven hikers who happened to be up there when the accident happened went out of their way to help; they stabilized the patient and kept him warm, made the 911 call, helped shuttle medical gear when some of my teammates arrived by helicopter, and then helped us carry the patient for the first 1000 feet down the mountain.  You might think that this is something any average Good Samaritan might do.  But we’re talking about hours and hours of assistance, that lasted well after dark, in sub-zero temperatures.  One of the hikers even separated from the friends he was hiking with to stay and help.  It was extraordinary. 

As I chatted with the hikers on the way down the mountain, it was clear to me from various references they made that they had read about the previous group of Good Samaritans, back in August.  How much did that influence them?  We can’t know for sure, but it’s a great reminder of how important it is to publicly recognize and reward the behavior you want from people.

If we could have an impact like that on the general public, just think what you can do with your captive audience of employees when you really focus on it:

  • Have discussions with your leadership team about what specific kinds of performance you are looking to reinforce; be strategic in your outlook.
  • Go out of your way to find examples of extraordinary performance in your organization; don’t just recognize it when it comes your way, go looking for it.
  • Then find every available avenue to publicize that performance; use your company intranet, social media sites, internal memos, announcements in meetings, recognition programs, even public (e.g. local newspaper) announcements if the performance achievement is big enough to warrant it. 

What are some other ways you’ve found to let the outstanding performance of some employees inspire others to reach higher?

Comments are closed.