Ever been mesmerized watching the rinse cycle on your washing machine? Okay, so it has been a long time for me when I was in a laundromat in Belgium. You already know the rinse cycle is that quick automatic cycle that rinses your clothes with clean water and then spins them as dry as possible.
I feel there is an important cycle you have to repeatedly spin your recognition through to make it as strategic as possible with your business. Once you have a Recognition Development Cycle created it will automatically drives recognition and helps you with achieving your business goals.
- Begin With A Recognition Purpose
You have to answer the “why recognition” question for everyone first. Figure out your organization’s “why”, or purpose, for giving recognition.
You can facilitate your recognition purpose statement with your executive and business unit leaders. You need to ask them what your purpose is, or should be, for giving recognition. Answer the following questions: Why are we giving recognition to our employees? Why are we doing recognition for the company?
It can sound corny, but until everyone is on the same page you will not have a unified recognition strategy. Once you have a common purpose statement drafted, and approved, it will drive managerial and peer recognition practices throughout the organization.
Your recognition purpose focuses more on your people internally and the customer contribution recognition makes externally.
- Agreed Upon Recognition Philosophy
You also need to align everyone’s beliefs for giving recognition – and then you can craft your recognition philosophy.
A recognition philosophy statement puts in writing what everyone in your leadership team believes recognition means and what it should look like for the entire organization, your employees as well as your customers.
The recognition philosophy focuses on how recognition creates strong people fulfillment for your employees. Recognition should also demonstrate a strong contribution to the business and society as a whole.
Facilitating a recognition philosophy statement requires you to ask leaders what their beliefs about employee recognition are. It may be the first time they’ve ever thought about recognition this way. Find out why recognition should be important to your company. Discuss together how recognition could make a difference to your business and the community – locally or globally.
- Understand the Power of Recognition Principles
You need to understand some of psychological and human principles that guide positive behaviors for giving meaningful, memorable and motivational feedback and positive reinforcement.
Some of these guiding principles that shape how we give recognition the right way, consist of accepted ways like:
- The Principle of Specificity
- The Principle of Individuality
- The Principle of Surprise
- The Principle of Authenticity, etc.
And there are many other principles that govern the way effective recognition is perceived as genuine, positive and validating of people’s contributions.
These recognition principles will help you, and everyone you work with, to know how to practice giving recognition.
- Define and Develop Your Recognition Practices
Prepared with your recognition purpose, philosophy and principles, you are prepared now to address the right practices that make recognition happen.
What are recognition practices? They are the regular, personal and habitual behaviors people do to express appreciation to others. Recognition practices can also be the cultural and customary ways an organization has of showing people they and their contributions are valued.
Some organizations go so far as to institute certain behaviors that are driven by their values and culture as established recognition actions, like Hewlett-Packard’s Golden Banana award, or the KFC president giving deserving employees a signed and numbered rubber chicken along with a $100 spot bonus.
- Consider Appropriate Recognition Programs
I have found that if you do a word association exercise with people and you gave the word “recognition” as your stimulus, the most typical response you’ll receive back is the word “programs”.
From understanding the Recognition Development Cycle you will see that “programs” is the last element to be considered.
Recognition programs should be tools to simplify and help managers and employees “practice” giving recognition to one another.
If people are not properly giving recognition the right way to begin with – the practices – no amount of recognition programs will ever be perceived as being effective and meaningful.
Recognition programs are the informal or formal organizational procedures and online administered programs that provide scheduled individual or team acknowledgment, awards, incentives or rewards, for achieving whatever strategic, behavioral or performance based criteria you establish.
As you can see, recognition is a lot more than just programs.
It is a whole cycle.
It starts with why, in articulating beliefs, knowing accepted ways of doing recognition, to actually recognizing people the right way, to using tools that supplement the recognition you typically do face-to-face.
That is what the Recognition Development Cycle (See Figure 1) is all about.
Question: Where has your organization become stuck in the Recognition Development Cycle?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.
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