What Do You Want Your Recognition Strategy To Look Like?

Each organization, large or small, should have a written recognition strategy to position recognition at the forefront in their organization.

Michael Porter, in his classic Harvard Business Review article, “What Is Strategy?” states that “strategic positioning attempts to achieve sustainable competitive advantage by preserving what is distinctive about a company. It means performing different activities from rivals or performing similar activities in different ways.”

Naturally, Porter is speaking about a traditional business strategy and not about a recognition strategy.

But what can you learn from the wisdom of Michael Porter? Are there principles you can apply to crafting a recognition strategy? Let’s look carefully at his work.

What Is a Recognition Strategy?

Borrowing from Porter’s words, a recognition strategy should position what recognition is, why it is important, and how it will distinctly align recognition with both your organization’s business strategy and your culture. Your recognition strategy will be uniquely different from that of every other organization. When you look at it, you will nod your head and say, this is ours and nobody else’s.

You may have the same types of recognition practices and recognition programs as other organizations. But, your goal is to create a strategy that shows all employees how to live recognition, and give recognition, in different ways from everyone else––you’ll do recognition your way!

Look at three of Porter’s strategy principles and we’ll see how to apply them to creating or revising your recognition strategy.

Porter’s Strategic Positioning Principles

Remember, Porter’s principles focus on business strategy development. However, since they are principles, we should be able to use them for your recognition strategy.

  1. Strategy is the creation of a unique and valuable positioning, involving a different set of activities.
  2. Strategy requires you to make trade-offs in competing–to choose what not to do.
  3. Strategy involves creating “fit” among a company’s activities.

Using these in the creation of a written recognition strategy could look something like the following:

  1. A Recognition Strategy is the creation of a unique and valuable positioning for all of your recognition practices and recognition programming, involving a different set of activities from other organizations and which must align with your organizational strategy and culture.
  2. A Recognition Strategy will require you to make trade-offs, not competitively as with a business strategy, but with choosing what recognition practices and programs you can do and what you will not do.
  3. A Recognition Strategy involves creating “fit” between your recognition practices and programs and how they interact and reinforce your current organization’s programs, objectives, and strategic initiatives.

Examine your present recognition strategy, if you have one, through the lens of these principles and evaluate how your document stacks up. If you still need to create one, then use them in your facilitating others in the writing of your recognition strategy or for your own cue points.

What I see from Porter’s work is the need for your recognition strategy to include:

  • A positioning statement for recognition practices and programs.
  • Indication of alignment of recognition with your organization’s strategy and culture.
  • What you can do and will not do with employee recognition, and
  • How recognition is integrated throughout the organization and used as a reinforcement tool.

Recognition Reflection: How strategic is your organization’s recognition strategy?

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