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.

Combining Versus Letting Your Recognition Strategy Drive Things

One person recently asked me whether in my experience I had seen the combining of a recognition strategy with other initiatives such as mindfulness or recruitment.

Every time you combine one people practice with another you can’t help but dilute both at the same time. 

However, what you can do with your recognition strategy is to have focus points drive the various strategic initiatives your organization has. One of your focus points might be to have recognition drive mindfulness.

For example, in our own company we have a wellness app that rewards small teams of four employees for eating well, drinking enough water, exercising each day, completing deep breathing and mindfulness breaks. In this scenario mindfulness is not a strategy focus but the recognition strategy drives mindfulness.

You would not combine a recruitment strategy with a recognition strategy because it would weaken both. Instead, have a solid recruitment strategy in place and let your recognition strategy help reinforce recruitment initiatives if that is the direction your organization wants.

In one healthcare organization I worked with the area of safety was not only one of their values it was also a strategic initiative. They wanted to be the number one healthcare organization in safety in their healthcare region.

They made safety one of the focus areas their recognition strategy would drive. They developed goals and plans on how the various recognition communications, education and learning, and recognition practices and programs could achieve their safety goal. 

While at the one hospital I saw a senior leader stop when they saw a coffee spill on the floor and get a wet floor safety cone to put over the spill before they called environmental services to come and clean it up. Safety was top of mind and people were being recognized for safe practices.

Notice safety was not combined with the recognition strategy. They used the recognition strategy to focus on elevating safety practices.

Separating Out Recognition from Total Rewards

Another concern I have observed with recognition strategy development is when they are too much aligned or combined with total rewards strategies.

WorldatWork has not helped the recognition cause well with their Total Rewards Model. Under this model they list compensation, benefits, work-life effectiveness, performance management, talent management, and I am placing recognition in last position for emphasis. Recognition should not be in a total rewards strategy.

I believe they should separate recognition out from the rest of the Total Rewards list because:

  • Recognition differs greatly from rewards. But when you attach it too much to rewards, then people see them both being the same thing semantically and then in practical usage.
  • The whole issue of focus and dilution. Few companies are doing recognition excellently so we need to give special emphasis to recognition. Recognition needs to be one of many people strategy focus areas. Don’t weaken and diminish it.
  • A recognition strategy can contain a lot of focus areas and action plans all by itself. Consider what you need to do to improve everyday, informal, and formal recognition where you work. What about communications, learning and development, marketing, branding, recognition practices apart from recognition programs? That’s enough to work on.
  • Articulating a clear organizational statement of the purpose of recognition and what your organization’s philosophical beliefs are around recognition practices and programs is a powerful exercise to go through.

There is so much you can put under a recognition strategy that there is no need and no room for anything else.

Recognition Reflection: Is your recognition strategy a stand-alone document and organizational tool or is it combined with other Human Resources initiatives?

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