Recognize Associates during Customer Service Week

by Diane Berenbaum and Brian Cole Miller

Surprise your team by going beyond the usual balloons, buttons and other promotional items. Get them engaged in a simple but powerful activity that will boost morale and build team spirit. It's a great way for associates to recognize and appreciate each other during Customer Service Week or any week of the year. Brian Cole Miller, of Working Solutions, shared this exercise from his book, Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers, published by American Management Association.

Here's how it works:

  • All you need is a box or two of Kudos ® granola bars (depending on the size of the team).
  • Show a box of Kudos® granola bars to the group and make sure everyone knows what the word “kudos” means” (“Praise given for achievement” according to Merriam Webster). 
  • Explain that they will use the bars to recognize each other for things they have achieved and to show their appreciation for one another. Emphasize that this activity is about peer recognition.  The manager will not be giving the “kudos.”

Share the guidelines for the activity

  • Anyone can give anyone else a bar. They can even give more than one, if they feel it is appropriate.
  • When you hand a bar to someone, you must give a brief and specific explanation for why you chose to award him/her a bar.
  • Do not go around the room in an orderly fashion. And, do not require everyone to give a bar. Let it flow naturally and let it be entirely voluntary. Each award will have more meaning if you do so.
  • You go first, just to demonstrate. Give a Kudos® bar to an associate and explain what that person did to receive the bar. For example, “Kudos to Leslie for partnering with me and helping me resolve a client complaint last Tuesday. She found the information I needed to explain what happened and provide alternative solutions. I was able to help the customer more quickly and provide a thorough and accurate response thanks to you, Leslie.”
  • Encourage the group to applaud and recognize each recipient after each award.
  • Tell the group to follow your lead. Note that it is now someone else's turn to give a Kudos® bar to someone. The recipient is not expected to give one to someone else. Let whoever wants to give a candy bar go next.
  • Continue until the enthusiasm dies down or you run out of bars!

Debrief the activity

Get the group thinking and sharing by asking some open questions:

  • How difficult (or easy) was it to give each other recognition. Why?
  • How does recognition from your peers differ from recognition from your manager?
  • What do you think would happen if you gave this kind of feedback to other customers, partners or suppliers (internal or external)?
You can use this activity any time you want to celebrate successes or encourage team building and bonding. It can also help to raise spirits and increase the team's confidence after a tough period. The focus is always on the positive—what is going right between them.

If you want to include everyone, you can start by giving everyone a bar and have each person give it to someone else. But note that this is not about fairness and everyone getting a bar. You can continue to use this activity during the year. It might just encourage associates to change their behavior in the interest of getting a bar in the future!
Diane Berenbaum is a long-time contributor and former editor of the MAGIC Service Newsletter. She has more than twenty-five years of experience as a consultant, coach, and facilitator. Diane is the co-author of How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC® .

Brian Cole Miller is the principal and founder of Working Solutions, a company dedicated to helping front line managers be more competent and confident in their jobs. He is also the author of several books for busy managers. His book, Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers, is available online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


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