Fostering a Culture of Recognition

The power of recognizing someone is often undermined. We all cannot help but to get caught up in our busy lives and pass on meaningless ‘pleases’ and ‘thank yous”, inevitably trying to be polite, but we have things to do! However, an important aspect of what we are missing is that someone quite literally did something for us. Recognizing someone is powerful. I first realized this when I left my home state of Iowa for the first time and gave a passing car within the city the good ole’ ‘farmer wave’ and let’s just say, I did NOT receive the same gesture back. Which if you are unfamiliar with the coined Iowa term ‘farmer wave’ it’s simply two fingers being lifted on the 10 o’clock hour of your steering wheel and this gesture is made to anyone and everyone who drives by you. Why? I believe to make the other driver feel seen. Other areas may do this as well, but to me, this is how us Iowan’s recognize each other. It is part of our culture.

Likewise, to the Iowa farmer wave, here at DISTek, we have our own ways of embracing a culture of recognition and it’s something that I value incredibly. It all starts right on your first day joining DISTek. Each new team member receives a document titled “Getting to Know You” which goes through a series of questions, but, perhaps most importantly, the last section asks how you prefer to be recognized. It’s important to note that not everyone likes a huge shout out at company-wide meetings, but some may. The next person may appreciate one-on-one recognition, while others will be satisfied with an email. We all have our quirks and our culture jives with that.

DISTek has shown that if you want folks to recognize one another, there must be multiples spaces that allow for individuals to do as such. Many of our internal communications are via Microsoft Teams, and we have an entire channel dedicated to giving each other shout outs and appreciation for each other’s work. Not only does this help build community, but also gives great insight into what people are working on all around the organization. In addition, we have access to virtual and physical greeting cards to give each other personal shout outs of praise. Did I also mention that periodically we receive postings within our main channels of communication simply encouraging, “Have you recognized or appreciated someone today?” This simple nudge out of the hustle and bustle of our workdays, provides a reminder to take a moment to recognize one another for showing up and being there for each other.

As a testament to our culture, DISTek has also gone as far as establishing a recognition philosophy; “In simple terms, recognition is about what people do; appreciation is about who they are. At DISTek, our approach centers around both.” Not only do we see the value of recognizing someone for the work they do, but also see that sincerely appreciating the individual for who they are and what they are doing is really the icing on the cake. I would have never thought after achieving my degree that I would be so fortunate as I am to be part of an organization that makes me feel so seen. It can be as simple as the farmer wave or receiving a sincere thank you letter from one of my colleagues, being recognized makes an impact on me. It makes me want to stay part of that culture and help spread the philosophy even outside of work.  DISTek deserves its own acknowledgement for providing a space where all of us are empowered to recognize and appreciate one another for our worth, not only as a colleague but also as a human being.