Building In Accountability With Learning How To Give Recognition

No matter whether you deliver your recognition education and training online or in-person, how do you hold the participants accountable for using what they’ve learned? 

Very little planning goes into building accountability for what people learn.

This needs to change if we want more people to practice recognition giving the right way. Where do you begin? How do you get people to apply what they learn?

Before They Do Any Recognition Training

Setting expectations for the outcome of what people learn starts before they ever attend or take part in learning about recognition. Ask the potential learner to identify “what’s in it for them?” (WIIFM). What do they hope to gain from the course? Why did they want to sign up for it? 

An action that you can do beforehand is to have the manager sit down with the employee and establish a learner contract. The employee can lay out what they hope to gain from the learning session. And the manager can also offer ideas, and then mutually decide what they see the employee coming back with. 

We can all do a better job of developing trainee readiness. Perhaps they can receive a self-assessment of their recognition skills, and a post-assessment once they have completed the course. Managers can invite the trainer to send learners preparatory resource reading. Some have even sent the learning guide ahead of time.

One expectation is for the learner to return and present what they learned to the team. This should increase the level of attention and participation during the program.

A fatal thing that some training programs have instilled into learning participants is the idea of receiving a certificate of completion at the end of the course. Unfortunately, getting this certificate does not equate with putting what you learned into practice. All it really says is that they sat in the class and hopefully participated.

At least one benefit from online programs is the need to achieve at least 80 percent correct responses to knowledge-based quizzes or situational learning questions before getting a certificate. But it still doesn’t assure that people will use what they learned back on the job.

After the Recognition Training

Other ideas for you to consider include having each one teach one. Every participant has the assignment to teach another person two or three principles or skills they learned from the course. Explain how to give recognition better and why the behaviors or thoughts stood out for them personally. Ask the recipient of the instruction to share their impressions and which idea they will put into practice. 

A manager might require the learner to give a summary presentation of what they learned to their immediate team or to the department. This might be a lunch and learn session or part of a staff meeting. The manager can allocate the time given to the learner to deliver their presentation. Thereafter, the employee becomes the resident expert on the topic for staff having further questions or needs.

During the learning program, the trainer can assign tasks for them to apply and transfer the skills back into the job. They can set up fellow learners into teams and agree on a mutual goal of how they will give better recognition at work. It should be something they do once a week for 4 weeks or one larger goal achieved during a 30-day time period. After 30-days the trainer can follow up with everyone on the level of success in completing the goal. Follow-up questions might ask what they learned from doing the exercise and what questions about employee recognition remain for them.

The trainer can then compile a report from all attendees’ responses and submit this to the manager(s).

When an employee has completed their learning program, they should meet again with their manager to review the goals they set prior to the training. Now it is time to set new goals with their manager on how they will further implement the recognition skills they learned. 

The key is setting the expectation and providing the opportunity to practice recognition giving. See what you can do to have the learners create a plan for application. Ask your employees what they will do with what they have learned. 

Rarely do attendees of learning sessions get back together again. Provide the chance for them to create cooperative learning groups where they model the practices they learned and give one another feedback. Let them share success stories of giving recognition and where they felt stuck or uncomfortable. Each employee can speak from their newfound experience as a learner and in trying to make it happen back at work. 

And don’t forget using evaluation surveys 30- and 6-days post the learning course to see how employees are doing in applying what they learned.


Incorporating accountability with learning of recognition skills and putting them into practice requires careful planning ahead of time and follow up after the training.

  1. What can you do with potential learners or the trainer beforehand to enhance the carryover of learned skills back on the job?
  2. How can you comfortably manage the follow-up required to see what learners have done with what they learned?
  3. Make an accountability plan with each learner to ensure there is better application of knowledge and skills learned when they return.

Recognition Reflection: How well does your organization do with putting accountability in place for learning knowledge and skills?

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.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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