How To Get Your Values to Drive Recognition

Values are a big deal when it comes to employee recognition.

After all, values are the way organizations, or the people that work there, do things. And when people do the right things the right way they deserve to be acknowledged for demonstrating those values.

Real recognition is about appreciating people for they are and recognizing them for what they do.

Catching people doing the right things can easily be done through offline recognition practices or online recognition programs.

Your values are key to getting recognition happening well.

Knowing Your Values

Corporate values are positive beliefs and actions that employees should subscribe to that guide everyone in achieving the purpose or vision of the organization.

Typically organizational values are written out first as single value words like, “respect”, “teamwork”, or “communication”, etc.

These identified value words are usually followed by simple definitions so everyone can nod their head to knowing what they mean. A few statements that give behavioral examples of the value may also accompany the word and definition statement.

However, the challenge many organizations face is getting their values off of the poster on the wall and making them come alive in the daily actions needed to succeed each day.

A great test is to walk around your company and stop any employee and ask them what your corporate values are. Here I am just talking about the value words. If your people don’t know more than 60 percent of them you’re in trouble.

When they know the value words well then you can then ask what they mean. They don’t have to know the definitions word perfect that are associated with your values but at least the gist of what they mean.

Creating a Values Focus

The first strategy to getting your values driving recognition practices and programs is sharpening the values knowledge and capacity to live them throughout your organization.

Start any meeting with acknowledging someone for a positive action and associate it with one of your values.

Solicit stories of accounts where people have clearly demonstrated living the values.

Share these stories of employee actions during pre-shift meetings, in your newsletters, on your LCD screens throughout the company, and on your main Intranet web page.

Create employee teams for each one of your values and have them be the cheerleaders for each value. They can encourage and promote how leaders, managers and employees can do better at making the values come alive.

Have communications department develop a communication editorial calendar for cascading values messaging through different mediums such as tent cards in the cafeteria, regular email blasts, posters, and in town hall meetings.

Learning and development should have online and face-to-face learning sessions – even lunch and learn pointers – help to reinforce and teach what it means to be values centered in our work lives and personal lives.

Propose that decisions in meetings or workday situations be approached from what would our values have us do.

Make the Recognition Connection

Design and create printed note cards with graphics or photos on the front associated with each of your respective values.

I have seen where employees were involved in submitting photographs or graphic images as a companywide competition. All employees would use online voting systems to choose the best ones.

Make sure you use a few of these images and don’t be bound by sticking with just one photo per value. People like variety and the ability to choose from different cards they can use.

Naturally, these same images will be used for your online recognition program eCards or social recognition programs.

When someone does something outstanding or above and beyond and you see how that epitomizes one of your values, send them a card (offline or online) with your well-crafted words and thanks.

Your recognition programs allow you to know exactly what is going on with employees acting on your values.

Data from your programs will track which of your values are being highlighted through recognition and which are not.

Maybe one or more of your values is not getting much attention. This is a chance to find out why. You might need to conduct some focus groups or surveys to ask employees what can be done to better live a specific underutilized value.

Some organizations have created formal recognition programs where employees are nominated on an annual basis for being exemplary in living a value.

Others use their informal recognition programs where all employees can nominate a peer and with manager endorsement the employee receives an award, sometimes with points or a certificate on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Suddenly You Have Values Driven Recognition

Bersin and Associates in their 2012 analysis on employee recognition found organizations in the top quartile of the Business Performance Index scores consistently recognized employees for three main accomplishments, namely:

  • Reaching goals on a special project
  • Achieving company goals, and
  • Demonstrating company values

I have long observed that an organization’s culture, its values and ways of doing things, will drive and propel recognition activities and experiences.

In turn, once people get accustomed to recognizing one another for living your values, your recognition practices and programs end up reinforcing your values.

It becomes an exciting atmosphere when you can get your values synched with your recognition strategy.

Question: How are your values doing in driving your recognition practices and programs?

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