by Leo Jakobson | May 02, 2018
The final day of the Recognition Professionals International (RPI) Annual Conference in Nashville on May 1 began on a high note with an energetic, plush carrot-tossing plenary session by Chester Elton (pictured), New York Times bestselling author of "The Carrot Principle" and more recently, "The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance."

Elton's talk focused on building high performing teams, and he noted that high performing work cultures are vital to success and that leaders who don't focus on creating their cultures will have one created for them. And it will probably not be the culture they want, Elton added.  

He pointed out that millennials believe teams accomplish more than individuals and that the most motivating work concepts for this rapidly growing segment of the workforce are impact, learning and family, while the least motivating are autonomy, ownership, and money.

Other sessions included a number of recognition program case studies by companies ranging from Dollar General and Tractor Supply Co. to MIT and Canada's RBC bank, winner of last year's overall Best Practice Award. Making recognition memorable by using music and the value and application of recognition in the healthcare industry were also among the topics covered.

A later session featured Dr. Paul White, a licensed psychologist, speaker, consultant, and president of Appreciation at Work. He looked at obstacles to creating the vibrant workplaces that not only make people happy, but make them productive, too. 

Three of the 10 most common obstacles, he said, are resistance and pushback from managers and supervisors, busyness, and confusing recognition and appreciation. Recognition, he noted, is about performance while appreciation is about the person. "Employees are people, not just producers," White said. "Yes, you need to get work done, but there is more to it than that. You've got to acknowledge they have lives. They want to be valued for who they are."

The conference ended on a high note with a trio of TED-style talks by consultant, speaker and author of the bestselling "1,501 Ways to Reward Employees" (expanded from the original 1,001) Dr. Bob Nelson; White; and a livestreamed session by Joanne Smith, executive vice president and chief human resources officer for Delta Air Lines.