Don’t Expect Rewards Just Because I Recognized You

A common problem, and misperception, of some recognized employees, is they believe that afterward, rewards must come their way. Or, perhaps they automatically assume that the recognition received, will guarantee a promotion or a raise at their next performance review. Employees think, “You recognized me so where’s my reward?”

Sometimes it’s the managers and supervisors who hold this attitude. If they think employees have this reward expectation, they often hold back from acknowledging their employees’ work and contributions.

We need to stop this idea that giving people praise and recognition sets employees up for expecting more rewards.

Here are ways for dealing with this employee recognition and rewards dilemma.

Overcoming Rewards Expectation 

Call a spade a spade when this situation is present within a company. Change your people’s incorrect attitudes about recognition and rewards, whether employee or manager. Why does it even happen? It often comes about from relying too much on rewards. Accompanying this is a lack of everyday recognition for employees. So when there is little or no recognition happening then employees will demand rewards.

What to do?

  1. Create a written recognition strategy for your company. Spell out what your company means by recognition and rewards. Declare how you want all employees to use recognition and rewards. Separate out a recognition strategy from a total rewards strategy.
  2. Communicate with your employees about recognition and rewards. Regularly communicate and educate all of your employees about the purpose and meaning of well-given recognition and rewards. Check out employees understanding afterward to know if you did a good job or not.
  3. Define what recognition is and when it occurs. It’s amazing how many people equate recognition and rewards as being one and the same thing. Tell people that they can acknowledge and praise positive effort, behaviors, and contributions, without having to give a reward.
  4. Define what rewards are for people and when they are given. Rewards are only given for consistent positive actions, above and beyond performance, or achieving specific results. They are mostly tangible, monetary, or experiential in nature.
  5. Explain clearly the differences between recognition and rewards. Harvard Business School professor of business, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, stated that “rewards are a right”. This is where you get the philosophy of, “if you do X, then you get Y” – it’s your right to be rewarded if performed as stated. This is a common mantra for rewards and incentives. Moss Kanter also said that recognition is a gift. Note that she did not say recognition is a right. Recognition is freely given to people from the heart and not from the pocketbook.
  6. Set and communicate clear expectations for everyone to give recognition. You express and give recognition to staff for any positive effort and behaviors you observe or that have been reported to you. Encourage all employees to recognize one another for help given and excellent work carried out.
  7. Also, set the expectation for managers to fairly reward employees. Rewards are given for achieving positive results. Supply immediate supervisors and managers with the business rules, criteria, and parameters for all available rewards in their various currency formats. If managers know the criteria for using which rewards for what kind of results – then they will use them judiciously. It is when rewards – like gift cards, points, or tangible gifts – are given willy-nilly and treated as recognition that confusion begins. Provide them with appropriate access to rewards online or designated gift cards for which they are held accountable.
  8. Educate all staff on the benefits of recognition rewards. Teach your employees how to effectively use recognition and rewards through in-class sessions, lunch-and-learn meetings, or through online microlearning. There is too little education on this topic that should make this a priority. Both recognition and rewards are powerful tools when properly understood and used effectively.

It is critical to put recognition ahead of rewards. Recognition comes first as positive things are observed. Rewards happen second when the performance successfully fulfills the reward criteria.

Recognition Reflection: When people expect rewards whenever they’ve been recognized, do you see little or no recognition happening in general?

Set clear goals with your employees.

Work with your employees to set behavioral and performance-based expectations so you’ll have short-term performance targets to shoot for. Creating goals gives you an automatic gauge to evaluate performance by and to know what to recognize people for. Always tie your recognition to your Mission, Vision, and Values. This is a key way to drive a successful recognition strategy. Remember, that creating short-term goals, which helps focus people on achieving your Mission, Vision, and Values, can make it easier to catch the everyday behaviors which merit spontaneous recognition.

What Would You Like To Be Recognized For?

It’s easy to forget that the people we work with do not necessarily need the same amount or type of recognition as the person next to them does.

Recognition is not a cookie cutter formula. How you like to be recognized will not be the same for me, for example. You should make time to find out what each of your colleagues and employees likes, and dislikes, around their desired recognition preference.

Which also begs the question to discover what everyone likes to be recognized for.

Some people have a greater need for validation of their individual worth and their job performance than others do. You will find this is often the case for new and younger employees. The need for recognition will typically reduce as one matures and is longer in a company.

But perhaps you’ve fallen into the default mode of recognizing absolutely everyone whenever they put forth an extra effort or achieve something significant. Were your attempts at giving recognition really valued and appreciated by each individual? (more…)

Interesting Insights on The Cash versus Tangible Rewards Debate

In reading Khim Kelly’s, Associate Professor of Accounting, from the University of Florida, and her team’s research on The Effects of Tangible Rewards versus Cash Rewards in Consecutive Sales Tournaments: A Field Experiment, I learned some fascinating insights.

It piqued my interest because it was a field study and not one of those in the university lab experiments. The setting was selling rugs in retail stores and incentivizing sales people with either cash or tangible rewards (gift cards from a choice of vendors) for achieving high-performance results over two consecutive sales campaigns, each of three months in length. The study was conducted in a Canadian retail store chain. The Incentive Research Federation has shown that companies are relying more heavily on tangible rewards these days over cash, as a reward vehicle with their various incentive and reward campaigns.

Does one work better than another? That is the question I was curious about. (more…)

How to Recognize Offline Employees When You Have Recognition Programs

You are grateful that your company has these great, online recognition programs, to send important and worthy messages of recognition to people.

Now you can send branded eCards to one another when someone is seen living your corporate values or achieving a strategic priority. You can even send messages of appreciation and recognition via a social newsfeed on your social recognition program. Peers can like these comments about their colleagues and add their own words of commendation and praise. And, your managers, can nominate employees for an award or actually reward them with points for going above and beyond.

That is, as long as employees have an email address, a computer or an electronic device, and can receive notifications from any of the above vehicles of recognition.

But, if many of your employees are offline and have no company email address, and also no electronic device on the job, how do you get frontline supervisors and managers to embrace online recognition programs? (more…)

Top 10 Ways to Select the Right Incentive or Recognition Award

Make sure the awards you give excite recipients and represent your company well.

Choosing the right awards for your various incentive and recognition programs is never an easy task. You want to show employees that their contributions are valued and appreciated. Awards should match your program’s goals and celebrate employee achievements. Today’s employees want more than the traditional award items. Check out the Top 10 Ways to Select the Right Incentive or Recognition Award to help you decide.

1. Clearly spell out your program’s purpose. Is this award for a sales campaign? Are you wanting to get people enlisted in your health and wellness platform? Or is this a prestigious award for the president’s excellence program? Awards must always fit the program purpose and desired performance level.

2. Have employees involved and ask them. Use an employee survey to get the big picture view and employee input. Ask them to prioritize on criteria such as the meaningfulness and perception of various award options. Draw upon focus groups, too, so you can dig deeper. Solicit the why behind each employee idea.

3. Focus on the meaningfulness factor. Employees are very clear on whether an award item is meaningful or not. Always add on to the award presentation. For example, who’s presenting the award? How have you orchestrated the total award celebration experience? What elements can you make even better?

4. Inspire and excite award recipients. Does the incentive or recognition award inspire the recipient to do, and be, better? As you explore award items – whether tangible gifts or symbolic awards – find out how excited employees are to receive them. Evaluate the emotional appeal of the awards you’re thinking about.

5. Provide choice wherever you can. Giving people exciting options to decide from is a great way to create motivation. Whether the awards are a lifestyle item, health and fitness, electronics, outdoor, or experiential items, charitable donations, or gift cards. Think choice! This factor can be especially critical with incentives.

6. Always use quality, name brand products. It can be a real let down when an award gift breaks or stops functioning shortly after receiving it. Stick with brand name items that are top quality. Ensure your award vendor is reputable and has a great exchange and replacement policy. Your award speaks for you.

7. Put symbolic awards on a pedestal. Trophies and medals must be totally representative of your organization. Look at Olympic medals and the Oscars® for what they mean to recipients. Whatever symbolic award the design must be an extension of the company and your brand. They will become a treasured prize.

8. Think outside of the box for novel ideas. No need to stay with the tried and true award selections. Dabble in creativity such as a customized portrait painting from a family photo of a recipient. Provide an opportunity to learn something new from an expert that the employee has mentioned such as painting or in music.

9. Move from tangible to experiential. Corporate volunteer trips to destinations around the world appeal to younger generation employees. They can build schools or set up wells with water access. This is a fully immersive cultural and teambuilding experience that leaves a legacy associated with your company.

10. Choose your own adventure. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman made famous the idea of doing things before you “kick the bucket”. Have employees choose experiences that bring joy. It could be skydiving, an amazing destination experience like whale watching in Patagonia, or cooking with a chef in Paris.

 

A version of this post first appeared in Incentive Magazine.

Why Your Recognition Training Is Likely Failing

Have you tried to train your people on how to give better recognition and it didn’t work? Were you able to measure the transfer of learning back to the job? What was the business impact of the recognition education delivered? Have employees reported improved recognition?

There are many reasons why educating and training managers and employees on recognition giving can fail. Authors and education experts, Tim Mooney and Robert O. Brinkerhoff, suggest bold actions for achieving business results in their book, Courageous Training. They provide a useful list of eleven possible causes for training failure.

I will unpack each one of these causes and then discuss how it relates specifically to employee recognition training. I want you to overcome the typical problems associated with training people effective recognition skills. (more…)

How Good Is Your Recognition Program Anyway?

Lots of companies think their recognition programs are the very best. Many that I have seen are truly pretty amazing and exemplary. A few think of themselves a little better than they really are. But at least they’re trying.

Since judging the best practices nominations submitted to Recognition Professionals International for the past 11-years, I have seen the overview of nearly a hundred or so recognition programs. Based on the criteria that I had a hand in developing, the other judges and I score each nomination, and also provide helpful, written feedback on their programs.

Often, those who submit their nomination the first time receive a best in class award covering a few of the seven best practice standards. They usually act on the judges’ feedback and resubmit the following year. If companies carry out the recommendations that judges suggested they typically raise the bar and can merit earning the best practices overall award.

How good do you think your recognition programs are? If you submitted a best practices award nomination for your company, would you measure up?

Take a look at RPI’s seven best practice standards below and assess where you think you would stack up on a seven or 10 point scale. (more…)

Why You Should Strategize Your Recognition Practices First!

Whenever leaders and owners of organizational recognition programs think about creating a recognition strategy they tend to think solely on their programs. However, for your recognition programs to be most effective, you need to focus first on getting recognition practices right.

Why should you strategize your recognition practices first and not your programs? How does this approach benefit your recognition programs? What are the short-term and long-term outcomes by taking this route?

Let’s take a look at recognition practices more closely and I will answer these questions and give my rationale for going in this direction. (more…)

Sure Fire Ways To Get Leaders On Board with Recognition

Some leaders get it and some don’t. There are those who have strong people skills and understand the value of giving recognition well. Then are the others who question the purpose of recognition and the expense associated with it.

How can you guarantee getting leadership support and their personal commitment to making recognition happen?

Think about the following ten steps before heading into a meeting with a leader or your senior leadership team. (more…)