3 Things To Be Mindful of When Teaching Recognition Skills

Serious african business man working on project at modern loft office, thinking about financial troubles

The times they are definitely a changing.

And if you want to help leaders and staff learn how to give better recognition to one another, you just might have to change with those times. Especially when this comes to learning recognition skills.

According to a Quantum Workplace survey conducted in June 2021, there were 30 percent of employees who considered themselves hybrid employees—working from home and sometimes in the workplace. From this same survey, 35 percent of respondents reported working remotely.

How do these workplace challenges impact how to teach recognition skills? What should you be mindful of in these changing times?

Irony of In-Class Learning

You would think that organizations would eradicate instructor following the past two years’ experience with mostly virtual instruction happening during the pandemic. However, when you look at classroom-based training, even if conducted in a hybrid fashion, it is probably here to stay.

Why is that? 

First off, you actually get higher participation rates because employees know they cannot avoid attendance. There are also far fewer distractions with in-class learning than when you conduct online learning. Consider the typical instructor’s requests to turn off your phone or put it on vibrate mode. You need a lot more self-discipline when taking microlearning and other digitally delivered training. Instructor-led learning engages people, facilitates interaction with peers, and can lead to excellent transfer of learning back in the workplace.

Companies can also get double duty out of an instructor-led learning session by video recording the session live. This allows L&D professionals to repurpose the content in various formats to support many employees’ learning needs.

Some of the best “aha” moments that people have learned how to give recognition in the right way are when they practice giving and receiving recognition in person. Nothing can replicate the challenging of beliefs and the gaining of confidence, than when they recognize peers one-on-one in the classroom.

Virtual Learning Opportunities 

Looking at the evolution of corporate learning. Josh Bersin shows how the format of learning in the workplace has changed over the past twenty-years. He shows how in the late end of the 90s to the early 2000s that we had e-learning and blended learning with in-class instructors, and that organizations offered a course catalogue and learning management systems with courses.

In the beginning and early 2000s, we saw the movement from a talent management approach with learning plans and developed career paths, moving to more digital learning with videos, self-authored material, and use of mobile accessibility, as well as using YouTube. 

At the end of 2018, we heard reference to learning in the flow of work where you could access microlearning when you needed it, access real time video showing you what to do in response to a question, and the availability of a plethora of courses. 

Now, L&D teams can draw upon AI technology to develop learning content that is personalized and adapted to a learner’s profile and previous skills assessments taken. Using AI technology can now provide recommended learning paths for staff to explore and benefit from. 

Bersin, in his HR Predictions for 2022 Report, states there are three huge issues for L&D leaders to examine and address in the years ahead: 

1. Building capability academies (end-to-end learning strategies led by the business). 

Bersin describes capability academies as the next wave of self-directed learning. He’s not talking about a library of learning content. Rather, he feels capability academies should be a place to go to advance an employee’s job-related capabilities. And this learning should be available in the flow of an employee’s work, or just-in-time learning.

He further defines a capability as the combination of skills, knowledge, and experiences that employees need to succeed in their work. These capabilities are unique, exclusive, and often proprietary to your organization. So, what skills are missing in your organization? How are you prepared to address those needs? 

The greatest area of need in organizations are skill sets Bersin refers to as “PowerSkills.” These essential skills comprise “teaching people how to lead, work in teams, collaborate, communicate, tell stories, and think strategically.” I would also put the ability to give meaningful and effective recognition as one of these skills.

So, consider where learning to give feedback and positive recognition fall in the needed list of skill sets. Other difficult to learn but needed skills he identifies are empathy, forgiveness, humility, and awe as the most powerful and sustainable skills in business. Interestingly, he feels these “softer skills” were not widely discussed prior to the pandemic. However, now they are viewed as essential skill sets to success. 

2. Cleaning up and integrating all L&D technologies and tools. 

You likely have various learning vendors you contract with to provide your employees with learning content. There is a lot of merging and consolidation going on in the L&D industry. Some of the leading providers are developing more creative tools to assist organizations and their employees.

The key, though, is not having a dozen different platforms that don’t integrate well with one another. And the core focus of all your learning resources should be to support your overall business strategy.

How is recognition taught in your organization? Do you have learning platforms with skills training that never get used?

Make sure that your leadership development curriculum includes learning opportunities to gain recognition giving skills. You may also need online coaching offerings to assist and nudge people with developing their recognition skills on the job.

3. Working with the rest of HR to implement a skills taxonomy for the future.

According to Bersin, this whole imperative of classifying and categorizing skills needed for each job is picking up speed as the push for talent increases. Executives realize they need to provide training for missing skill sets in their own organization in order to be successful.

HR must classify the various skills an organization needs, and the associated capabilities employees need training on. From there, they develop career pathways for the future demands of jobs or skills.

The term career pathway, versus career path, is now coming to the forefront. In contrast, a career pathway is the developmental steps and roles needed to be taken to reach a specific position which is in higher demand within the organization. 

This may require specializing in distinct skills that fit a certain role. And the need for interpersonal skills in order to effectively lead and motivate others to perform well, too. Make sure your assessment tools evaluate the strengths and needed skills required to give memorable and motivational recognition.

I think the biggest demand right now is how you integrate your learning options within your organization. How can you raise the urgency of learning and leveraging recognition skills as a practice to lift employees and enhance performance? 

There are certainly lots of things to be mindful of when teaching recognition skills. I hope this gives you some thoughts to reflect on.

Recognition Reflection: How is learning and development changing in your organization to support the teaching of recognition skills?

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