What do you see or notice about your peers, or direct reports that merits acknowledgment and recognition? Are you even aware of what your colleague works on right now that makes them proud? Why are they excited to come to work each day?
To learn the answers to these questions, you need to have excellent observation skills. You need to become an amazing observer of people and the great things going on all around you.
Check out a few of the ways you can use to develop amazing observation abilities.
Periodically, I will post classic articles that have helped individuals and are often requested or searched for. This is one that was very timely when written and still needs to be reflected upon.
As an industry we’ve created a semantic conundrum for ourselves. We interchange the usage of rewards and recognition as if they were identical twins. Ironically, in order to understand them both and use them better, we must decouple them and tease out their differences and learn the benefits each brings to the table. Learn from this Top 10 list and apply the insights you gain from it.
1. Rewards are tangible; Recognition is intangible. Whether tangible or monetary, rewards are always something you can touch and of a specific amount. Recognition is often invisible in nature and yet priceless in value. You can give recognition without giving a reward. You should never give a reward without giving recognition.
2. Rewards will always be transactional;Recognition should always be relational. Rewards are always if you do “X” then you’ll get “Y” in return. Recognition is so much more a relational exchange between people. Rewards are great for attracting people to an organization and recognition is perfect for keeping them.
3. Rewards are simply consumed;Recognition is mostly experienced. When you receive money or a gift it is usually spent, used up or somehow consumed until it ends. In contrast, recognition is a total immersion experience and a personal encounter of the best kind which can last forever. Carefully using both will help address the unique differences within all of us.
4. Rewards are transferable; Recognition is non-transferable.Rewards can be passed off from one person to another and are temporary in nature. Recognition cannot be removed from the person given to or exchanged and is quite permanent. Focus on achieving that kind of permanence through recognition while using the momentary impact possible through a tangible reward.
5. Rewards are certainly conditional;Recognition happens to be unconditional. Rewards are very dependent consequences based on certain terms or conditions. Recognition, however, tends to be more independent and not a fixed result of specific actions. It is blending rigidity with flexibility or at least knowing when to use one over the other.
6. Rewards are expected; Recognition is a surprise. It seems with rewards we go into a situation knowing that if we perform well we deserve the reward. With recognition, on the other hand, you totally have no idea until you unexpectedly receive it. Never let anyone down by not giving them a merited reward and learn to be spontaneous with appreciating and celebrating people every day.
7. Rewards are economical; Recognition is emotional. Rewards are a prudent use of resources in the whole economy of production, distribution and income. Recognition contrasts as a psychological and emotional event, a felt phenomenon. Remember that performance may reign but feelings rule!
8. Rewards are outcome driven; Recognition is focused on behaviors. Rewards are used to reinforce the occurrence of achieved results. Recognition can happen anytime someone notices positive behaviors of another. People want to know how they are doing before the end result is achieved.
9. Rewards are fixed; Recognition is flowing. Rewards are fixed and determined based on desired performance and the expected returns. Recognition is free flowing from one person to another and expanded upon as shared by others. Know when each has their place and use each of them wisely.
10. Rewards are impersonal; Recognition is personal. Rewards have little human dimension based on their tangible, contractual arrangement, even when given to someone. Recognition differs because it’s purely human connection celebrating people for who they are and what they do. This is where the giving of rewards can be made much more personable by giving recognition too.
Previously published by the author in Incentive Magazine as well as in this blog.
Having facilitated many recognition strategies and plans for organizations around the world, I have gained a lot of insight into what makes them work well.
I will share with you four things that must be in place to be successful in creating a written recognition strategy and plan. While many other factors may be needed for you, when these foundational steps are in place, everything works out wonderfully. And when they are not, it is like pulling teeth to get a recognition strategy done right.
One of my most exciting accomplishments has been working with Dr. Charles Scherbaum from Baruch College, SUNY. Together, we examined the various behaviors and attitudes associated with giving meaningful and effective recognition. Then we conducted the content validity research for our Recognition Skills Assessment® and we found out some very interesting results.
We enlisted recognition subject matter experts to score the level of importance for each behavior and attitude on a Likert scale. They did the same action for scoring the level of impact they felt these behaviors and attitudes had on people and performance.
The outcome of our studies showed very different perspectives for giving effective recognition than I had imagined. From what we learned, I can give you the top five essential actions and attitudes needed for giving effective recognition.
Like the fall of the Galactic Empire in the Star Wars saga, sometimes you have to bring your formal award and recognition programs back to the light side. When any of your formal award programs fall apart, you need to step in quickly and turn things right around.
Following are a few ways to consider with preventing the downfall of your formal recognition programs.
Many social recognition programs available from vendors operate very similar to Meta/Facebook. You have a social newsfeed where you can add status updates. And you can send themed specific ecards or social badges to celebrate achievements, thank people for their help, reward performance goals reached, and acknowledge colleagues’ birthdays and milestone celebrations.
And there is something else that each of us can do. As we go on to our recognition and reward programs, there is the special opportunity to like the various recognition messages sent and to even add our personal comments.
Does liking and commenting make a difference to people? Is one better than the other?
Let’s explore some research and see if we can extrapolate anything that we can apply in our social recognition programs.
If there is one major thing that will help propel recognition forward, it’s having your senior leaders aligned with your recognition strategy.
As a manager and leader of recognition in your organization, your role is to help get your executive sponsor to agree to your recognition strategy and plans, and then assist you with how best to execute it.
These are some thoughts and practical steps you can take to get your recognition champion aligned on recognition.