Culture LEAN

A Little Thanks Goes A Long Way

One of the things I saw when I was in Japan was a great example of how a simple behaviour of recognising the efforts of your co-workers had on boosting employee satisfaction.

The organization we were visiting, Aeon Malls, had a system whereby every employee could raise and give a business card sized thank you card to a co-worker.

Front of card

On the back of the card is a tick list of some of their core values and behaviours and space to write a personal note of thanks. The trick here is to align these with the types of behaviours you are encouraging your team to bring to life.

Rear of card

I was told that “this can all be done electronically” but it isn’t as powerful as phsyically handing the card in acknowledgement to your co-worker. It’s like Birthday cards, yes you can do them electronically, but it’s not the same.

Leader Board

The leader board shows visually each team and their progress, although the team decide whether to post the card or not.

By creating a “pride of place” location for all to see, generates a motivation to give and receive recognition for adding value to the customer or fellow employee. This example was in the public walkway behind the scenes of the retail area.

Pride of Place- Showing two teams

In addition to the individual recognition, there are formal company monthly awards:

There are two employee of the month awards to recognise:

The individual who GAVE the most cards The individual who RECEIVED the most cards

It’s important to understand that the quality of the nominations are policed by the whole team. If one is raised, it’s discussed at their morning meeting and has to pass the quality test.

There is an annualised award from each Aeon Mall and the winners get to go to a 2 day, all expenses paid conference in Tokyo. Bear in mind there are 500,000 employees across all of Asia, this is a big event. The theme for the event is around company values and how everyone’s contribution counts and doing the right thing!

It seems simple and also a chore, so why waste time with this recgnition system? well it underlines the Shingo Principle of “Respect for Every Individual” and drives employee engagement.

If anyone is interested in hearing more on this story or the Shingo Model for Excellence, please contact me on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: