Find Out How People Want To Be Recognized

Has your manager ever recognized you in a way you really didn’t appreciate?

While not by my manager, I can recall twice where people recognized me in not the best way.

Each of these poor recognition events proved the person responsible for recognizing me had done no homework. In addition, it might well have been the individual transferring their own preference on to how they recognized me. And, I also think one was a cheap, quick and easy way out.

The bottom-line is I did not feel properly recognized.

Have you seen employees disappointed or feeling a lack of respect with how they’re acknowledged and recognized?

We will discover ways for finding out how people want to be recognized.

Remember, I alluded to two occasions where I received depersonalized recognition that meant nothing to me? Let me share those experiences with you so we can learn from them.

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How To Better Understand Your Leader’s Point of View

It is important to create a persona or profile of the leader or leaders you report to for when you need to present to them or gain approval on a proposal. Leaders think differently than rank-and-file employees. It’s these qualities that set them apart.

Read past talks they have given and check out the latest annual reports to gain insights about them. 

Talk to people who know them the best like their assistants and other managers who have had dealings with them.

Gather details about their background and where they have worked along with the job positions they have held.

Know their motivations and pain points that will help you understand their priorities and how they make decisions.

What do you know about their personal life, significant others in their life, family and so forth? What are their hobbies and interest than might give a human connection for you to relate to?

How will understanding your leader’s point of view help you with your recognition strategy and planning?

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4 Important Reasons Why Recognition Comes Before Rewards

When you think strategically about recognition and rewards or with trying to implement them, do you have a logical order in how you think about them or practice them?

Yes, I have a bias in that I am foremost a recognition strategist before thinking about rewards. But I completely understand the place for rewards and know the value they play in both recognition and reward strategies.

However, I think there is a psychological and practical reason for prioritizing recognition before rewards.

Consider the following reasons.

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Here’s How To Evolve Your Recognition Programs

Recognition is a relatively new experience in the workplace and especially using technology driven recognition programs. Rewards were always recognition’s historical predecessor.

The question then is how do you evolve your current recognition programs to be ready for the ongoing future developments of the future?

As you look at the past, awards and rewards, especially using money to reward employees—were viewed as the only potential motivator to increase performance results.

The attitude was if you want employees to work more and better, then you had to pay them with monetary rewards when they performed at the desired level. Rewards were totally a top-down approach from managers to employees because the whole purpose was business focused. Manager’s focus was on paying or rewarding employees for higher performance and then the company will get better business results and improved profits.

In some organizations today, there is still a perception that rewards are so much easier to give than to be bothered with the extra care and effort required to recognize someone.

A reward in isolation of employee recognition, especially monetary rewards, only serves to create an entitlement mentality that relies solely on extrinsic motivation.

Is your organization fixated by rewards and just transacting with employees?

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If You Want To Give More Recognition, First Figure Out Why

I have seen where after a poor performance on the recognition measures of a recent employee engagement survey that the CEO tells all the leaders and managers to go out there and give more recognition to people.

You can probably guess why the senior leader asked them to do that. The reason was to improve the recognition scores on the next engagement survey.

This mandate from on high doesn’t work.

Giving more recognition to the people you work with for the sake of the numbers is not why you want to recognize others more.

It is not about numbers and measuring the occurrence of recognition. It is about giving recognition more purposefully.

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How To Give Recognition to Teams the Right Way

It’s just as important to acknowledge the teams you work with, as it is to give individuals the recognition they deserve.

But, somehow, because of human nature, and sometimes a lack of proper management, you can end up with team dynamics that impede feeling good about team recognition.

For example, team members often ask the questions, “What if one team member doesn’t pull their weight on a work project and yet their included in the team recognition?”

It seems many issues crop up with team-based recognition. What are you supposed to do? How can you give people on teams proper recognition?

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What Should You Do If Your Recognition Education Fails?

Most corporate training and education programs work very well. But now and then you get an educational program, whether in-class, online, blended, or via one of the many learning delivery methods, that ends up being a failure.

If you were following the Kirkpatrick Model and the levels of training evaluation, you might do a Level 3 evaluation to examine participant’s behaviors after the training. You want to find out the degree participants are now actively applying what they learned in the training sessions back on the job. 

You conduct a survey to find out what learning participants are doing or not doing with giving employee recognition. Now you find out that a majority of the learners are not doing much with the skills and principles they were taught.

What can you do to correct this problem? How would you handle the fact that your recognition education failed?

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Top 10 Ways To Drive Recognition Through Your Culture

Effective use of recognition programs and exemplary recognition practices are always driven by your company’s organizational culture. Your culture must stimulate the positive actions you want to see happening to get more people recognizing others more frequently. Look at these Top 10 Ways to Drive Recognition Through Your Culture to spark greater engagement.

  1. Leaders need to own developing company culture. They are the ones who can see the big picture and the corporate vision. Leaders must not only drive organizational culture but also align it with the company business strategy, people strategy, and even your recognition strategy.
  2. How leaders act and what they focus on determines your culture. Leaders must visibly demonstrate daily actions of recognition expressions and celebrating achievements. What employees see their leaders positively doing they will strive to emulate. It is much easier to follow good examples.
  3. Establish a strategic recognition team/committee. Draw upon a diverse and inclusive representation of leaders and employees to steer the integration of recognition into all facets of work life practices. Have them flag any discrepancies with positively living the company culture from top to bottom.
  4. Frame the value of recognition giving and start a movement. Encourage a small number of leaders and employees to become ambassadors of recognition giving. Commit them to passionately appreciate people for the great things being done. Show them how to effectively use your programs.
  5. Expand recognition through company networks. There will be leaders and different departments whose people are better at recognition giving than others. Provide them the chance to share through email broadcast, printed articles, and video interviews how, and why, they are such good recognizers.
  6. Evaluate your stated organizational values and beliefs. People leave and change and so do the way things are done. Your company values may need to be evaluated and revised to fit better. Staff must then identify whether their personal beliefs still mesh with the company’s values and direction.
  7. Create unifying symbols of recognition for everyone. Ensure symbols of recognition are reinforced through branding and meaningful program names. Consider using social badges on your recognition website. Have branded tangible gift items available to acknowledge your employees achievements.
  8. Set simple goals to achieve quick wins. Invite people to set realistic goals for how often they will give better and more effective recognition. Use forum pages or online social collaboration tools to share progress. Or post successes and what you’ve learned through your social recognition program.
  9. Influence your culture through learning. Do what you can to create continuous learning opportunities to develop your culture and recognition giving skills. Get your learning development experts to utilize every available informal and formal learning method to enhance culture and recognition.
  10. Call out the cultural expectations for recognition giving. Use all available communication channels to invite everyone to be true to your culture. Ask staff to gently remind colleagues when they’re not doing or saying things consistent with what your company believes. Recognize those who live it!

Previously published by the author in Incentive Magazine