What Should You Do If Your Recognition Education Fails?

Most corporate training and education programs work very well. But now and then you get an educational program, whether in-class, online, blended, or via one of the many learning delivery methods, that ends up being a failure.

If you were following the Kirkpatrick Model and the levels of training evaluation, you might do a Level 3 evaluation to examine participant’s behaviors after the training. You want to find out the degree participants are now actively applying what they learned in the training sessions back on the job. 

You conduct a survey to find out what learning participants are doing or not doing with giving employee recognition. Now you find out that a majority of the learners are not doing much with the skills and principles they were taught.

What can you do to correct this problem? How would you handle the fact that your recognition education failed?

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Top 10 Ways To Drive Recognition Through Your Culture

Effective use of recognition programs and exemplary recognition practices are always driven by your company’s organizational culture. Your culture must stimulate the positive actions you want to see happening to get more people recognizing others more frequently. Look at these Top 10 Ways to Drive Recognition Through Your Culture to spark greater engagement.

  1. Leaders need to own developing company culture. They are the ones who can see the big picture and the corporate vision. Leaders must not only drive organizational culture but also align it with the company business strategy, people strategy, and even your recognition strategy.
  2. How leaders act and what they focus on determines your culture. Leaders must visibly demonstrate daily actions of recognition expressions and celebrating achievements. What employees see their leaders positively doing they will strive to emulate. It is much easier to follow good examples.
  3. Establish a strategic recognition team/committee. Draw upon a diverse and inclusive representation of leaders and employees to steer the integration of recognition into all facets of work life practices. Have them flag any discrepancies with positively living the company culture from top to bottom.
  4. Frame the value of recognition giving and start a movement. Encourage a small number of leaders and employees to become ambassadors of recognition giving. Commit them to passionately appreciate people for the great things being done. Show them how to effectively use your programs.
  5. Expand recognition through company networks. There will be leaders and different departments whose people are better at recognition giving than others. Provide them the chance to share through email broadcast, printed articles, and video interviews how, and why, they are such good recognizers.
  6. Evaluate your stated organizational values and beliefs. People leave and change and so do the way things are done. Your company values may need to be evaluated and revised to fit better. Staff must then identify whether their personal beliefs still mesh with the company’s values and direction.
  7. Create unifying symbols of recognition for everyone. Ensure symbols of recognition are reinforced through branding and meaningful program names. Consider using social badges on your recognition website. Have branded tangible gift items available to acknowledge your employees achievements.
  8. Set simple goals to achieve quick wins. Invite people to set realistic goals for how often they will give better and more effective recognition. Use forum pages or online social collaboration tools to share progress. Or post successes and what you’ve learned through your social recognition program.
  9. Influence your culture through learning. Do what you can to create continuous learning opportunities to develop your culture and recognition giving skills. Get your learning development experts to utilize every available informal and formal learning method to enhance culture and recognition.
  10. Call out the cultural expectations for recognition giving. Use all available communication channels to invite everyone to be true to your culture. Ask staff to gently remind colleagues when they’re not doing or saying things consistent with what your company believes. Recognize those who live it!

Previously published by the author in Incentive Magazine

Should Care and Concern Fall Under Recognition?

Is showing care and concern for our fellow employees an act of recognition or something completely different?

From my point of view, I have defined recognition as mostly an intangible expression of acknowledgement and valuing of an individual or team, for their positive behaviours, their personal effort, or contributions they have made.

By this definition, recognition occurs because:

(1)  Some positive action or specific positive behaviors have occurred by an employee on the job. 

(2)  You feel their actions merit you acknowledging and valuing them for who they are or what they do.

(3)  And, unlike rewards, you are not expecting the employee to do something in return just because you’ve recognized them.

So now, in response to a recent question asked of me, do you give recognition to people because they’ve experienced a positive life event or perhaps they’ve had some serious challenges?

Let’s examine this carefully.

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Get More Video Happening In Your Recognition Programs

Isn’t it about time you incorporated video into your recognition programs? After all, everybody else seems to be doing so.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg implied this when he said, “Video is a critical part of the future. It’s what our community wants, and as long as we can make it social, I think it will end up being a large part of our business as well.”

Check out these statistics:

  • In 2019, Wyzowl found that 63% of businesses were using video as a marketing tool. By the start of 2018, that had risen to 81%. Now, as we arrive in 2019, the number has increased again to 87%. (Wyzowl)
  • By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer Internet traffic—15 times higher than it was in 2017. (Cisco)
  • Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and image content combined. (G2 Crowd)
  • On average, people spend 2.6x more time on pages with video than without. (Wistia)
  • 83% of marketers would increase their reliance on video as a strategy if there were no obstacles like time, resources, and budget. (Buffer)

Using video in your online recognition programs is the next best thing to being there in person.

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It’s Exciting When Leaders Get On Board with Recognition

Whenever I visit an organization that has senior executives who are exemplary recognizers, it’s a whole different ball game. Leaders who know and understand the importance of recognition really drive the rest of the organization in making recognition happen.

Typically, these leaders have set an expectation that giving good recognition is part of the way their organization does things. They are visionary leaders who lead their organizational culture and acknowledge people who live the values. They are purpose driven. These leaders are present at as many recognition and award events as they possibly can. And if they cannot attend, they will assign another top recognizing leader.

Leaders who are on board with recognition see it as the right thing to do for their people. They have also seen the benefit that comes to the organization when you treat your people with respect and value them and their contributions.

Looking at their recognition strategy (note, they have one) you will find their C-suite leaders endorse it fully in word and deed. And that includes budgetary support, leadership actions and reinforcing management accountability on all strategic recognition initiatives through performance management and feedback. 

See if your leaders demonstrate any of the following attributes as recognition leaders.

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Show People How to Give Recognition the Right Way

Historically, recognition training was always a knee jerk reaction to low scores on recognition related questions on the latest employee engagement survey results when I first started speaking and training on recognition skills.

These days recognition training is much more planned and strategic as human resource leaders and organizational development specialist have grown in awareness of recognition’s role and realize a lot of us need skills training.

The good news is that giving meaningful, memorable, and motivational recognition can be learned.

However, learning how to give recognition has not always been at the forefront of most organizations’ learning curriculum.

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How To Implement a Recognition Strategy in Large Organizations

Over the years I have helped several large organizations in facilitating a team of their leaders in developing a written recognition strategy. The challenge I face after they have completed a recognition strategy session is leaving the owners of the strategy document with instructions on how to implement it and then see them make it happen.

Sometimes these recognition strategies become glorified documents that a manger or leader can now say they have a written recognition strategy whenever someone asks.

But if you don’t implement a strategy and plan then nothing ever changes.

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Never Mix Agendas With Your Recognition Strategy

Years ago when I was leading a church congregation I invited a member to meet with me to discuss a matter involving their publicly disciplining some of our youth. Ironically, this individual also wanted to meet with me to discuss a different subject.

We met that evening, and I allowed them to start with their subject first. Afterward I dealt with the more sensitive subject I had on my agenda. I can only tell you it didn’t go over very well. In fact, they didn’t talk to me for several weeks after.

However, I can tell you I learned a very important lesson from that experience. And that is, never mix agendas. 

If someone wants to see you about something, let that be the sole purpose for the meeting. Don’t add something you have on your mind to the meeting.

In a similar vein, never mix agendas with your employee recognition strategy either. Stay focused on creating a recognition strategy all by itself and add nothing else.

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Make Your Onboarding Recognition More Meaningful

There are a lot of ways where you can make onboarding of new employees an exciting time of welcome and recognition for them.

It doesn’t have to be a very expensive process. By making a committed attempt to acknowledge each new employee and celebrate their coming on board, you’ll be going a long way to engaging new employees and encouraging them to stay and be loyal to the people and organization.

Think about how you can make your employee welcome even more meaningful by integrating employee recognition practices and programs.

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How To Shift Organizational Cultures After a Merger

There are challenging things that people in corporations experience and one of those times is when there is a merger and acquisition with another company.

It affects people in so many ways and it can impact how you will proceed with recognition and rewards.

Consider that consulting firm McKinsey and Company found that “95 percent of executives describe cultural fit as critical to the success of integration following a merger. Yet 25 percent cite a lack of cultural cohesion and alignment as the primary reason integration efforts fail.”

Getting culture right is obviously critical after a merger.

William Bridges, author of one of my favorite books, Managing Transitions: Making the most of Change, wisely said, “It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions.”

What he’s referring to here is that change is situational, as in the case we’re discussing here with a merger. But transition is “the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation.” Thus change is external and transition is internal.

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