by Glenn Elliott
I first met Gregg Lederman in September 2017. I’d recently stood down as CEO at Reward Gateway but I was still a major shareholder and had a new non-exec role as “Founder” where I helped on strategic projects. Doug Butler, the new CEO, asked me to meet the leaders of a company he’d found called Brand Integrity. They were in the employee recognition space and were based in Rochester, New York. Doug was curious to see if there was a fit between our two companies and wondered if acquiring them could move our US ambitions forward.
I’ve been on dozens of calls like this over the years and most times they lead to a dead end. There are a hundred hurdles to get out of the way before deals like this happen and even if everyone likes each other, often the timing is wrong for one or other party. I agreed, naturally, but it wasn’t the most exciting thing in my week.
But we did the call, got on well, and saw a number of synergies between the companies. We were bigger and had lots of products, they were smaller but had gone deeper on employee recognition with had an interesting soft-consultancy product wrapped around it. We were dominant in the UK and Australia they had an interesting foot-hold in America. Both companies had great customer advocacy and what seemed like strong and, dare we dream, compatible cultures. We even had almost identical mission statements – ours was “Let’s make the world a better place to work”, there’s was “Let’s make the world an even better place to work.” Maybe fate was bringing us together?
Most interestingly they seemed to have found a way of genuinely helping clients to implement and execute values and behaviours programmes, without turning themselves into an expensive management consultant. That was something that was intriguing and could be attractive to bring to the rest of the world.
In the meetings that followed its became clear that the engine behind that practical, pragmatic and science-led approach was Gregg Lederman.
Gregg founded Brand Integrity 16 years ago. It was clear that he’d spent those years thinking deeply about why people come to work, what motivates them and what people need, or “crave”, in order to perform at their best. Nearly two thirds of his clients are on the best places to work lists and they get engagement score increases averaging 70% after his intervention. Big on the US conference circuit, and finding time to teach on the local MBA programme, he was a real engagement-pro and a pleasure to be around.
We bought Brand Integrity, and their 25?? people joined us, becoming the Reward Gateway Rochester office. In the months that followed, I started to work more closely with Gregg assessing how his thinking on engagement, and his two previously published books, could connect with my own work on The Engagement Bridge and Build It, the book Debra Corey and I published last year.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little apprehensive. I’d been used to being the thought-leader-in-chief at Reward Gateway and here was the new guy, a potential rival to think about. What if our work clashed? What if he thought the Bridge was rubbish, or wrong, or incomplete? What if his work was just a lot better than mine? How would that feel?
But when I started to read his work, watch his talks and really get to know him, I found something quite amazing. Talk about a real meeting of minds!
I devoured his previous book ENGAGE in just a weekend. Within a few hours my advance preview copy of CRAVE was full of coloured index flags. Each one highlighted a place where we had common ground, an area when Gregg’s understanding added to and expanded on my own or an “aha moment” where he answered a question that I’d been stuck with.
We both use Gallup data and we both highlight the fact that in 18 years of work the number of engaged people has not increased. We both reference Dan Pink heavily and both of us highlight that decades of social science research tells us the limitations of extrinsic reward, yet in companies worldwide we can’t shake our addiction to them.
Where I went broad with Build It, Gregg has gone deep on employee recognition showing how it can be used strategically as a key leadership tool. It’s an incredible How-to guide, something that our clients and readers have been looking for.
Gregg’s experience of over 16 years as a consultant rings through every page of CRAVE. He’s been there in so many organisations, helping create new company values then helping to embed them through rock solid, employee recognition programmes that work.
But aside the common ground there are many differences. Gregg has gone further and far deeper than I ever have in developing his understanding and practice of how to practically embed corporate values and how to persuade and enable managers and leaders to execute on employee recognition.
The data on employee recognition is stark. 70% of employees say they want more. 83% of leaders think the could do more themselves. 79% of employees say they would work harder if they were noticed and a similar number who quit their jobs give “lack of appreciation” as a key reason for leaving. The response from business is to write bigger cheques – Gregg’s analysts shows that spending on employee engagement technology has more than doubled in the 5 years to 2017. But in the same period the percentage of the workforce engaged has barely shifted.
But if business is applying the money? Why isn’t it working? Why do so many employee engagement programmes fail? Some people buy the wrong products, many buy trinkets and “glitter around the edges” without fundamentally looking at how the treat staff on a daily basis. And when it comes to employee recognition most leaders exhaust themselves on the technology selection and implementation and fall flat on the manager and leader training and execution.
And that, for me, is where CRAVE excels most.
In 260 punchy pages, CRAVE is the business case for employee engagement and the answer to where and how to start. In his “10 minutes by Friday” programme, Gregg shows us how employee recognition doesn’t have to take a lot of time. He explains why we should recognise, what we should recognise and most importantly, how we should recognise. His 3 steps for strategic recognition methodology is inspired. Easy to explain, rewarding to do it completes the missing part in so many employee recognition programmes – actually explaining to managers and leaders how to make these programmes work
It’s been a real honour to work with Gregg bringing this UK edition of CRAVE to market. I hope you enjoy it and can get copies into the hands of as many of your managers and leaders as possible.
London. June 2018