SPARKS Blog Image-1


Get inspiration and ideas delivered right to your inbox!

This is the 2nd in a series of 4 blog posts about how Disney leaders go from good to great.

Our last blog post The Disney Leadership Difference: Listen took on the power of Listening. This week we’ll explore another one of the 4 good to great leadership attributes. Now, we take on how great Disney Leaders Reward & Recognize.

I’m often asked about the Disney difference as it relates to leadership; what is it that takes Disney leaders from good to great? While at Disney, we did something that few organizations take the time or trouble to do... we ASKED.  Yep, we went out and simply talked to cast members and asked them, very specifically,

"What do great Disney leaders do that good Disney leaders don’t do?"  

Cast members were happy to tell us.  As a matter of fact, the simple act of asking our cast members was a bonus leadership win, and what they told us correlated beautifully with the simple act of asking.  

This is what they told us... 

One thing we know about reward and recognition is:  when we reward performance, talk about it and celebrate it, we get more of it. We get more of the good stuff. At it’s core, reward and recognition simply lets our front line employees know that we have noticed their performance and it is worthy of celebration; further validating and encouraging the desired observable behavior.

Here are 4 Key Components to successful reward and recognition programs:

  1. Avoid the FIZZLE. Sadly, I see well intentioned and organized reward and recognition programs kick off, have a good life span, and then slowly fizzle away. This “fizzle” process takes the excitement and accomplishments of a program and tamps them down into an aging process that few use. To avoid the fizzle, make sure to have a defined kick off, middle and end. NASA does a good job of this, closing out the Apollo, Mercury and Shuttle programs with a celebration and a move to the next big thing. Wrap up your program in a bow, celebrate it and close it out! Then move on to your next program.
  2. Everything Speaks. Brand your program with a logo, look, and feel that creates excitement at launch. At Disney, we always said, “Everything Speaks” If that’s true, your professional, well laid out interesting program speaks to leaderships commitment to reward and recognize their frontline people.
  3. Customer Facing. Your customers should know that there is a reward and recognition program in place. This might look like a different color name tag as award winners (like Disney does) a trophy displayed, or a certificate framed. These icons communicate to  your customers that the organization cares about the service they are providing.
  4. Leverage Senior Leadership. There’s something about having the CEO involved with your reward program. Use your CEO to add a measure of weight to the presentation of awards. They can leave voice mails, send emails of congratulations, and jump into pictures of certificate presentations. This is a perfect role for senior leadership for which most every senior leader will make time.

When considering a reward and recognition program, don't let the above scare you.  Rather, use it as a guideliine to build your program; perhaps adding one component at a time.  In the end your co-workers, leaders, customers, those rewarded and those yet hired will all benefit from the positive recognition!

Stay tuned  next week where we’ll discuss the how great leaders Involve.  In the mean time, check out these additional leadership resources:

effective leadership exercise

Leave a Comment:

Related posts

Planning a Change? Prep Your Communication Strategy First

Mike Donnelly | March 8, 2023

What makes a visitor experience great?

If you polled your visitors and employees, their answers might include things like...

Related posts

Cultural Property Protection and the Customer Experience: Can They Coexist?

Mike Donnelly | February 2, 2023

Recently, I attended the Smithsonian's National Conference on Cultural Property Protection.

The Smithsonian dedicates an...

Mike Donnelly

Posted by:- Mike Donnelly

Unlock the Magic!

Unlock the Magic_3D book image L-3

Donnelly Effect In Action


Recent Articles

Popular Articles