What Your Leaders Can Do To Lead Recognition

Senior leaders are a powerful force for driving recognition giving across the organization. Their attitudes and, hopefully, exemplary practices, become a beacon and benchmark for others to follow–whether good or bad.

Here are three ideas to explore with your leaders to help you elevate recognition in the eyes of all employees.

1. Think Outside of the Box

You can ask your leaders to help you with thinking outside of the box with recognition practices and programs in your company. David Ulrich, professor of business at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, recommends that leaders need to think outside of the box by thinking from the “outside-in”. He suggests successful leaders become conversant in translating what’s going on outside of the company, the external business trends, and then bringing those insights into the company to improve the internal decision-making and actions needed.

What are the implications for employee recognition with an outside-in thinking process?

What’s Missing?

Leaders can tell you what is missing with current recognition programs based on the latest technological, social, and other business trends.

The Leader’s Role

You should have a champion from the leadership team on your recognition strategy team. They can keep you and team members informed on the company’s strategic priorities. They will probably request collaboration on how you can leverage your recognition programs to move the bar on specific performance markers.

Ulrich also states that leaders must align company strategic objectives and operational goals with meeting customer needs and expectations. How do your customers view existing recognition practices and programs? In what ways are your recognition programs helping to improve customer services?

2. Make Recognition Easier to Give

Today, HR technology has become easier and simpler and much more intuitive in design and with the whole user experience. Think about smartphones today that comes with no instruction manual and yet we use them with little difficulty.

Leaders see the big picture. They deal with many Requests for Proposals, attend vendor meetings, and frequently view on-site technology demonstrations. They can draw upon their knowledge and observations to recommend how the recognition experience can become easier to give and more meaningful for employees to receive.

The implications for making recognition easier and better is that you will have more eyes and hands-on experience from leaders to make solid recommendations.

Gap Analysis

Leaders can review with you the latest and greatest human resource technology they’ve seen. Have them sharehow features of these offerings integrate with other systems and programs. Now, determine where your company stacks up against other organizations.

The Leader’s Role                                         

They can bring you the views and insights from the entire leadership team on your employee recognition programs. Let them share with the design thinking they’ve observed with other programs. How can you revolutionize current recognition programs consistent with other HR technology they’ve seen? Are there ways to make the recognition programs more intuitive and make it easier to give recognition to staff? Should you disrupt or innovate the programs from your vendor or with your in-house Information Technology team?

3. Learning and Development Must Be Leader-Driven

Learning and development of recognition practices needs the full commitment of your leaders if they want skills, like effective recognition giving, to become a leadership competency.

You want your leaders to agree to planning, funding, resources, and teaching, of all complimentary communication skills, if you want to create sustainable learning. Your leaders can also act as mentors and assist you with building business networks of exemplary communicators and recognizers, especially for emerging leaders programs.

Leaders can reinforce that one-size learning and development does not fit all learners’ needs. They will know Generation-Z employees, for example, who are technology skill-rich but poor on social skills. Learner-centered education and training will provide training clips from your corporate YouTube channel, a learning corner on one of the office floors for planned and spontaneous learning presentations, and even corporate MOOC’s (massive online open courses) for people to take online and your leaders can facilitate.

For learning and development, the implications of leader involvement is a commitment to ongoing evolution of learning and using all available mediums to teach effective recognition skills.

On the Edge

Learning in today’s fast-pace, changing world, requires keeping up with a Netflix, Google-driven, algorithmic prescribed next thing to do and learn. Your leaders can help you know strategically how learning must coordinate with the strategic initiatives of the company.

The Leader’s Role

Your leaders can help you align learning and development plans so that training is a differentiator for your company. This can help with talent acquisition and employee retention. Your leaders will show how important valuing people and their contributions is, by making teaching and training of giving positive feedback and recognition skills a priority.

The bottom-line is to create a positive relationship with the executive leader you report to so you can have these kinds of conversations. They’ll generate alternative ideas for you to think about and investigate. But they will be a strong ally for you as you involve them and collaborate on your recognition strategy and plans.

Recognition Reflection: Are you drawing sufficiently upon your senior leaders to help improve employee recognition in your organization?

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