What, you may be wondering, is this? Just a letter of recognition from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to one of her employees’ mothers. Yes, to her parents. No big deal.
Dear Mrs. Jones,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the gift of your daughter, Jenn Jones, who is doing excellent work in our research and development division at PepsiCo. She is doing an outstanding job and we truly couldn’t do what we do without her.
Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo
Talk about taking recognition to the next level, right?
An unorthodox approach
After taking the CEO position in 2006 (she retired in August 2018), Indra traveled home to India where her mother paraded her in front of every known relative, friend and acquaintance to show off her daughter’s success.
And she couldn’t help but notice the pomp and circumstance wasn’t for her.
What her mother really wanted to do was show everyone what a great job she had done raising such a successful daughter. And Indra wasn’t bothered by it. In fact, she was happy to experience her mother’s pride.
She did, however, have an idea.
When she got home, she set to work on personally writing all 35 of her direct reports’ parents. She wanted her employees to feel the same recognition she got from her mother. A bit unorthodox, but she had a good feeling.
The response was incredible.
Employees were pleasantly surprised, and some parents even wrote her back. And Indra saw the benefit in the new lines of communication between her employees and their families. So she didn’t stop there.
An annual tradition
Every year, she asked her team to find the top 200 up-and-coming staff in the PepsiCo organization. For several days, Indra spent time sitting down with each one, learning about them on a personal level and getting a better understanding of who they are. After each meeting, she wrote a personal letter to their parents.
Can this success be attributed to her emphasis on recognition? Not exactly. But it’s fair to say her approach played a major role in her employees’ willingness and ability to perform at a high level.
And that certainly impacted the company’s overall growth.
Indra knew good managers reward and recognize their team. In a world full of gold stars and pats on the back, she wanted to do something different. She wanted to be great.
Knowing how to recognize and reward your team is the hallmark of a great leader. Because studies show time and again people are more motivated by recognition than money.
So what are you doing to recognize your team?