What Makes Your Recognition Program A Success?

As a judge for Recognition Professionals International (RPI) Best Practices Award I have had the opportunity to evaluate with my colleagues 72 individual company nominations.

Each nomination requires companies to prove to the judges how they have effectively demonstrated each of RPI’s seven best practice standards, i.e.

  1. Recognition Strategy
  2. Management Responsibility
  3. Program Measurement
  4. Communication Plan
  5. Recognition Training
  6. Recognition Events and Celebrations
  7. Program Change and Flexibility

We score each submission on these standards and provide collective feedback for the owners of the programs to consider and incorporate into their programs and possibly future nominations.

With this perspective in mind let me address what makes a recognition program a success.

1. Successful recognition programs go beyond having a written recognition strategy. The key factor for going beyond a strategy is having a detailed plan with strategic goals on how to integrate recognition into everything and then implementing this plan. A strategy without implementation is just wasted ink on paper.

I love it when I see great, measurable goals set that company leaders have shown they have achieved or come close to doing so. It is wonderful when there is a team of people who take action on objectives and make recognition a part of the organization.

2. Successful recognition programs have executive ownership and leadership commitment. Great recognition programs are where there is support from the top and personal commitment from leaders in living recognition practices and exemplary usage of the recognition programs.

You need leadership commitment. When recognition starts at the top then everyone can take responsibility for their part in recognizing everyone around them on a daily basis with or without programs.

3. Successful recognition programs use program data to analyze what is happening and why. The programs that are making a mark for themselves are generating analytic information to help predict human performance, prevent problems and encourage ongoing development and progress.

Generating reports alone no longer adds much weight. Effective recognition programs have the ability to drill down on results. They use analytics on the data to help predict and prescribe what needs to happen to move the dial on metrics.

4. Successful recognition programs thrive on the ongoing connection between practices and programs. Companies that get recognition right make sure recognition giving is a way of life before expecting anyone to use programs.

Recognition practices are 3x more likely to elevate scores on engagement and retention than programs do. Practices come first and programs are second.

Recognition programs are only tools to help people practice better recognition giving. Never neglect the everyday respect, appreciation and acknowledgment that should already be happening.

5. Successful recognition programs require constant reinforcement to use them consistently and appropriately. Never miss out on the need to create positive triggers and communication reminders to use programs well. Educate everyone on the benefits and methods of proper recognition program usage.

For recognition to happen well and use programs right too you requires creating a recognition communications calendar to broadcast recognition messaging. You also need to continually teach people how to give effective recognition online or offline.

6. Successful recognition programs incorporate online systems with offline celebration opportunities. Remember formal recognition programs are an effective mix of online tools, systems and processes to make nominations easier to handle. The end objective is to honor people and celebrate their contributions.

Take time out to celebrate people and team’s successes in addition to recognizing them through your recognition programs. Keep in mind to blend high touch along with high tech with your programs.

7. Successful recognition programs have owners who are never satisfied with their programs and continuously seek improvements. Solicit employee feedback on their recognition moments from the programs. Get all users experience on giving and receiving recognition. Be willing to break what isn’t broken in order to make things better.

Meet regularly to discover and assess areas in your recognition programs that need to be improved. Seek quality improvement and the best user experience possible that you can craft.

What all owners of recognition programs want is quite simple.

They want people using the recognition system to recognize one another frequently and positively and to make people feel good by doing so.

They want people using the programs to recognize people for exceptional performance so they can move the dial on performance results because of it.

They also want people using the recognition programs to acknowledge people just for who they are independent of any performance.

The bottom line for all successful recognition programs is having everyone feel valued for the contributions they make in their jobs.

Question: How do you get your people using your recognition programs the best way possible?

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