4 Strategies to Identify and Recognize Invisible Wins

At the core of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)‘s mission is an unrelenting commitment to helping entrepreneurs learn and grow in every stage of business. Adopting an attitude of gratitude in recognizing employee wins is a critical component of success. We asked Tom Turner, CEO of BitSight, about the importance of uncovering and recognizing invisible wins. Here’s what he shared:

Building a strong company culture is fundamental to success. When employees are happy, engaged and enjoy coming to work every day, they work harder and care more about your company. A key element in creating that environment is celebrating your employees’ successes.

I’ve always believed that building a company is a team sport, and just like in any game, you should celebrate the wins. It’s easy to cheer for what you see, like leading a new product development initiative or converting a new customer. What is equally important, however, are the things you don’t see: the team member who fixed a laptop glitch moments before a pivotal demo, or the one who went the extra mile to onboard a new employee.

In every company, people are working hard behind the scenes, creating a collection of little victories that shape a company and drive it forward; and they should enjoy equal credit for their wins as those who visibly score. These small, “invisible wins” drive big results.

What is an invisible win?

Recently, our company moved its headquarters from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. The move entailed an incredible amount of work, much of which was never seen by employees. In celebrating the move, the most obvious (and admittedly highly warranted) person to thank was our facilities coordinator, who developed the layout, thoughtfully designed the space and purchased state-of-the-art furniture. This is a visible win.

But what could be overlooked was the work done by our VP of Finance, who coordinated the early-build stages of the office, ensured permitting was correct, accepted furniture deliveries and corralled the crew into action. This is an invisible win.

Our company made sure we celebrated both. Neither of the two possesses the skills of the other or owned the same responsibilities throughout the process, but without both of them, we would not have the beautiful new office we sit in today.

Four ways to identify and recognize invisible wins

It’s often not easy to identify invisible wins and the team members behind them. Doing so involves a combination of listening, engagement and setting up processes specifically designed to find and celebrate the range of wins in your company.

Here are four strategies to help you uncover more invisible wins:

  1. Ask questions. Finding invisible wins involves asking the right questions and listening for anecdotes. Ask managers how their teams are performing and who is impressing them lately―challenge them to consider the small, day-to-day victories that would otherwise go unnoticed.
  2. Be engaged. You won’t see the small wins unless you’re present and paying attention. I’ve learned from our chairman to walk around the office and drop in to different meetings, which enables me to gain a sense of the various teams and what they’re working on, both big and small.
  3. Encourage recognition. Create processes that allow everyone in the company to acknowledge wins of all types. When we get a new customer, for example, we ask the sales team to write a win report to recognize those who contributed. We also encourage people to write anonymous note cards recognizing others who have recently helped them.
  4. Acknowledge publicly. Wins big and small deserve to be recognized beyond one-on-one meetings and within individual teams―whether that’s in a company-wide email or at your regular all-hands meeting. During each of our company meetings, we choose someone to read employee acknowledgment note cards and the names of the people who received them. These note cards have become a point of pride for employees, who often showcase them on their desks–transforming the invisible into the visible.

As you work to improve the ways you appreciate and motivate employees, you will no doubt continually learn new things about the people you employ and the recognition that drives them. Of course, compensation and benefits are significant and always will be. But recognizing wins–both the obvious and the more subtle–should become an essential part of any company culture.

My Aha! moment along this journey was the realization that it’s the peer-group recognition that genuinely makes employees proud, excited to work hard, and continuously motivated to make our company grow into the best it can be.

When to declare cloud application migration failure

One of the hip terms that you hear a great deal in Silicon Valley is “fail fast.” This means to find out what does not work so you can move on to what does. It’s solid advice, for the most part.

However, failing in some enterprises’ IT shops may get you put out of the organization, so many IT pros avoid failure at any cost—or at least never declare failure, even if it means spending millions of dollars in dealing with ineffective systems that are costly to run or even hurt the business.

For the cloud, you need to know when to declare a “fail,” when to hit the reset button and start from the beginning when doing migrations.

I bet if you look at your cloud migration projects now around the company, at lwast 20 percent are in big trouble. While the reasons for running into trouble that can lead to outright failure vary, these are the big three that I’m seeing:

  • Lift-and-shift is not working.
  • Data integration is an afterthought.
  • Compliance or security issues have not been addressed.

The biggest issue with migration of applications is the false belief that if it runs on premises on platform A (say, on Linux with four cores), provisioning virtual platform A on a public cloud using the same configuration means the application should work there as well. Umm, often no.

The result of such assumptions is that IT organizations run into issues around communications with systems that have not moved to the public cloud yet, or that their cloud bills are 300 percent higher than expected.

The reason: These lifted-and-shifted applications aren’t optimized for the cloud platform, either for functionality or costs. They don’t use native cloud features, so the value of moving to the cloud has gone out the window; indeed, it may cost you much more.

When that happens, there is nothing you can do other than declare failure and go back to the migration drawing board, this time refactoring to use cloud-native systems, as well as optimize it for the target cloud platform.

The other two issues—data integration, and compliance and security—are less frequent causes of outright failures, but they are still big issues.

Not considering the data integration needs before migration means that you’re not going to find the issue before you can do anything to fix it quickly. In many instances, the latency between on-premises systems and the cloud can’t be corrected. In such cases, you need to move back to the data center—after declaring failure.

Compliance and security issues often require systemic changes to the applications and databases in the cloud, and so need a lot of upfront planning. In a worst case, you end up with compliance or security failures so grave that you must start over.

It’s important to understand that failure is a part of cloud migration; after all, most organizations are still learning. So expect mistakes and build the fact of failure into the migration efforts. But do more than that: Also make sure you learn from the failures and thus continuously improve your practices, tools, and skills.