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3 Forms of Genuine Care that Make All the Difference

September 10, 2013 by Bruce Jones, Programming Director, Disney Institute

Imagine your team has a number of challenging projects underway with deadlines fast approaching. You walk by an employees desk just prior to lunch time and its apparent that they are going to work through their lunch hour to meet their goal. As a gesture of appreciation, you buy the employees favorite coffee drink from the local coffee shop.

Will your gesture actually be appreciated? Will it help generate the extra effort you know is required? Will it increase commitment from your team member?

It depends on whether or not your gesture is perceived as sincere. If you rarely recognize people for their efforts, your well-intended gesture could easily be perceived as an effort at "productivity manipulation." If your team thinks that all you care about is hitting the deadline, any effort at recognizing or thanking them might easily be dismissed and could do more harm than good.

At Disney, we have learned that sincere recognition and appreciation is an indispensable tool for creating employee engagement and it comes from three primary sources:

  1. The Organization: Recognition programs are a major part of an organizations culture. One example at the Disney parks occurred in 2004, when central Florida experienced 3 hurricanes in the same month. Ride-out crews were assigned to stay on property during hurricanes to take care of guests and fellow cast members, and to assess and get operations back to normal as quickly as possible. To recognize the increased effort on multiple-ride out crews, a special pin was created and distributed to those who participated (pictured right).
  2. The Leader: On a daily basis, leaders have various tools they can use to personally thank cast members for their efforts. Simply writing a personal note of thanks takes little or no time, and still goes a long way to demonstrating your commitment to your people.
  3. Peers: Research shows that peer-to-peer recognition is a powerful catalyst for increased engagement. Imagine your team members grabbing each other that cup of coffee, or writing personal notes of appreciation to each other. When that happens, youve succeed in moving beyond "work teams" to having created a community that truly supports and enables each other to accomplish great things together.

Is there a payoff for your efforts? You bet. One thing we know at Disney is that the extent to which you GENUINELY care for your people is the extent to which they will care for your customers – and each other.

And thats a powerful formula for success in any business.



Posted in Selection, Training, Engagement | Tagged Employee Engagement, Employee Engagement Ideas, Employee Recognition, Employee Turnover, Motivating Employees, Bruce Jones | 4 Comments


4 Responses to 3 Forms of Genuine Care that Make All the Difference

  • Nicholas says:

    on September 11, 2013

    Nice! Where can we find the cards pictured? Link? Are there any Disney 'professional-looking' that are available? If so, where? Thanks for the great blog too! - Nick (Visalia, CA)


  • Bruce says:

    on September 11, 2013

    Hi Nick - those cards are a lot of fun! Sorry, but they are only available to Disney Cast Members, and I'm not aware of any like them on the market. They are actually fold-over cards, so there is more room to write inside once opened. My recommendation is to work with your team to design a unique card for your organization and then work with a local printer....share the first cards with the team that creates them!


  • Dana says:

    on October 15, 2013

    Nick, Vista Print is a great website that will design cards very similar and even with your company logo. Hope this helps.


  • Elizabeth says:

    on February 22, 2014

    I worked for an organization in which peer recognition was imbedded into our end-of-year performance reviews. Members of a team would rate each other on different categories that were based on our organization's "core values." Based on these scores, we were then able to select a matching cash bonus for our co-workers. There were, of course, defined parameters and a set amount we were able to dole out. Although this was all done anonymously, we were given a listing of our scores with attached peer comments.


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