Teach Your Leaders How To Be Exemplary Recognizers

Recognition does not come naturally to everyone.

Leaders at the top of your organization should show the leadership competency skills that they expect from their direct reports. Leaders should help others to lead.

But that isn’t always the case.

Your goal for each organizational leader is to get them to inspire and value the contributions of one additional person every day.

How do you teach your leaders to be amazing recognizers of your staff?

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How To Hold People Accountable for Giving Better Recognition

Holding people accountable for giving effective and meaningful recognition brings together something good—recognition—with something uncomfortable, like, accountability.

It takes courage to deal with the conflict of holding people accountable. And courage is exactly what good management requires.

Follow these accountability steps to move the dial on recognition giving.

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How To Make Your Recognition Education Short and Sweet

People seem to want things smaller these days. We went from desktops to laptops. We moved from tablets to smartphones. Now we want smart wearables.

The same goes for education and learning. People moved from bite-size things you eat to bite-size things you view or read. We now apply this principle of “short and sweet,” to online learning and other resources for teaching people how to give meaningful and effective recognition.

This became clear to me when one of our clients wanted short and sweet content. Their communications team was engaged in providing managerial resources for learning and applying recognition practices and how to effectively use their online recognition programs.

I want to show you some short and sweet factors that were used to support this client’s initiatives along with some additional ideas.

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What About Levels of Skill In Giving Recognition?

Each of us has varying levels of confidence and proficiency with being able to recognize those you live with and especially those you work with.

For some, they had upbeat and positive parents, teachers, and coaches, who inspired them to grow and be successful. They regularly received words of encouragement, appropriate praise, and recognition for their accomplishments.

Others had life situations where they always needed to overcome negativity, received put downs at school, and a lack of sincere concern for the welfare of others. Even where they worked had toxic bosses and a lack of appreciation for their contributions.

No matter the route you took in life, or the role models you had in your life, they now expect you appropriately praise and recognize your employees.

But we all have different abilities and attitudes around giving meaningful and effective recognition.

What can we do?

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How To Give More Consistent Recognition

One of the four criteria for the different levels on our Recognition Maturity Model is the variable of consistency.

If there is one thing, I hear all the time from recognition managers and program administrators; they hope to have more people consistently recognizing employees. And they also speak of wanting greater consistency of recognition across all areas of the organization, be that by departments or geographic locations.

Consistency is so important that is even one criterion on our Recognition Maturity Model, which you can learn more about here.

But what do we mean by giving consistent recognition? How can you make this happen across your organization?

Dive in to learn more about consistency.

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Beware of the Hidden Biases Around Employee Recognition

When was the last time you reviewed your recognition and reward program data to see if there is any tendency toward hidden biases?

A hidden—or implicit—bias is defined as a preference for, or against, a person, thing, or group, which is held at an unconscious level. This means you and I don’t even know our minds are holding onto this bias. In contrast, an overt—or explicit—bias is an attitude or prejudice which is very much endorsed at a conscious level.

For example, what is the proportion of recognition or reward recipients who are male versus female, with respect to your employee gender ratio? Are rewards given more often to one gender over another? Is there any general ratio between white and non-white employees? Do disabled staff equally merit and receive recognition and rewards for exemplary work?

Perhaps we all need to ask these kinds of question when identifying whether hidden biases exist in our recognition and reward practices and programs.

If there are certain principles that keep recognition and rewards open it is fairness and equity.

How well is your organization doing in this area?

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Top 10 Ways to Get Managers Giving Recognition

If there is one concern that most organizations have, and that is getting their managers to regularly and consistently recognize their employees. Developing the mindset of the importance of appreciating and recognizing staff for their positive behaviors and personal effort, requires several steps to make this happen. Start using this month’s Top 10 Ways to Get Managers Giving Recognition to guide you on what to do next. 

1. Set clear expectations from senior leadership team for managers to become better at appreciating people for who they are and recognizing them for what they do. Have leaders set the pattern and personal example for recognizing staff contributions.

2. Show managers the truth about the impact their giving or lack of recognition has on people. Capture video testimonials from employees and open-ended survey results that show the positive and negative feelings people have about recognition.

3. Provide managers with insight on their department’s employee engagement survey scores and drill down on how the recognition specific questions scored for them. Any score below 65 percent is a sign that everyday recognition is missing in action.

4. Debunk the myth they don’t have time to give recognition. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and giving good quality recognition takes less than 30-seconds to do. Suggest managers at a minimum start and end their day with recognition giving.

5. Hold regular one-on-one feedback meetings with managers to find out how they feel they’re doing with recognizing staff. Get their input on challenges, frustrations, or problems they have with giving recognition and coach them to succeed.

6. Provide managers with all the resources they need to gain knowledge and insights on how to give better and more meaningful recognition to people. Be this through written articles or an archive of video tutorial content that is broadcast out to them.

7. Give managers in-class and online education opportunities to show them how to give effective recognition to people. You can also do this through lunch and learn sessions, management briefing sessions, or delivering webinars by other managers.

8. Don’t forget to set goals with managers on how they intend to improve the frequency and quality of the recognition they give people. Remember to stay on top of their commitments and hold managers accountable for recognizing staff.

9. Use positive reinforcement and recognize managers when they stop to recognize their employees. Making time to recognize the recognizers is something that often gets neglected in our desire to see more recognition happen from management.

10. Invite managers to share in management meetings about the successes they have experienced when they stopped and made time to recognize their employees. Let their peers know of the intrinsic reward that their recognition had in lifting people up.

How to Deal with Managers Who Don’t See a Need to Change

We’ve all seen them in action. Some of us even report to one.

These are the managers who don’t seem to want to change their behavior. In our recognition scenario, these are the managers who don’t recognize their direct reports, let alone anyone else working around them.

How are you supposed to get a manager like this to change? 

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Top 10 Recognition Posts for 2019

Here we are with another New Year and I want to share with you the Top 10 Posts for 2019.

I will reflect along with you on why perhaps you and many other readers read these more than other posts that didn’t quite make the top rankings.

In tenth position was the post How to Help a Leader Who’s Not a Good Recognizer. Obviously, this leadership focused article resonated with many of you who need some ideas and help with coaching the challenged leader to become a better recognizer of peers and staff. 

Leaders are not always in their position for their people skills—although they certainly help—and for that reason they often have more left-brain, executive functioning and logical skills. Some, not all, need a helping hand to get the people skills down and realize how important recognition is to the people that work for them.

The topic in ninth position is How to Increase the Impact of Your Formal Award Programs, which I know many of you want desperately to improve and stand out. There are some basic steps you can follow, and I hope you can make them come alive in 2020.

Most organizations have some formal award programs going on. But few organizations set objectives for what they want to achieve from conducting nomination submissions and planning awards events.

I didn’t expect this post to rank as high as it did. It seems many of you wanted to learn how they select Oscar awards winners so How Oscar Awards Nominations Are Selected came in at number eight. Recognition professionals are always looking to benchmark against best practices, so I hope you gain some insights from this post.

The Oscars always share the public limelight on what people think an awards ceremony should look like. Understanding how the award winners are selected might help you raise or lower your own expectations on how you should determine your award recipients.

In seventh position we have a leadership focus again and this time it’s on feedback. What Makes Giving Feedback So Difficult for Leaders? provides you with some perspective and actions you can take to assist those having difficulty with this area.

I think we’re hitting on soft skills here and how they are not as easy as they seem. Giving meaningful feedback is something all of us can become better at.

For those of you who haven’t created a written recognition strategy document yet, our sixth ranked post of A Quick and Easy Recognition Strategy to Get You Going should help you out. It is better to have a basic document in place to guide you along than not having a strategy at all.

Make sure you become more intentional and strategic with your recognition practices and programs. This post’s ranking probably reflects the need for an easy way to write up a recognition strategy.

It seems some of us need pointers on overcoming our discomfort with giving recognition. In fact, our fifth post on Why Are We So Uncomfortable Giving Recognition to People? gives great reminders for why some of us find recognition giving an awkward experience.

The reality of this post’s ranking is the human tendency that expressing emotions and validating the great things people around us do is more difficult than we think.

There are probably many organizations that would enjoy our fourth ranked post on How to Get Employees to Use Your Recognition Programs. It takes constant effort to communicate, educate, and exemplify great program usage to have employees follow in our footsteps.

The whole preparation and planning required to make recognition programs successful is not something a lot of organizations do well. Everyone wants to get more employees using their programs more frequently.

I am so glad my post on Why Being Specific Increases the Value of Recognition made it to third place. It validates for me that many of you see the importance and need for recognition specificity. Put this into practice and teach others to do the same and recognition will go a long way to becoming improved.

Recognition specificity is one of my favorite topics around recognition giving. Intuitively, many of you know it is important but just want to know how to do it better.

Second on the ranking list was the post on What Your Leaders Can Do to Lead Recognition. It tires many of you to fight the recognition battles alone. You need leaders to step up to the plate and make a strategic pitch for the cause of employee recognition.

A bit of a surprise for me was seeing this post in number two position. But it paints a picture that we desperately need leadership around employee recognition.

And the top-ranked post for 2019 was… How To Improve Recognition With A Great Learning Curriculum. This shows the need from many of you to have ongoing learning and development on recognition practices and using programs properly.

Be constantly learning the essential recognition skills and behaviors to give meaningful recognition. Understand the importance of your recognition programs and humanize your interaction with the programs to better connect with and value your employees.

Happy New Year to everyone. Become a better real recognition giver this year.

Recognition Reflection: What insights can you gain from the usage of your recognition programs over the past year?

How To Develop Emerging Recognition Leaders in Your Organization

A few years ago, some managers at a particular company reached out to a Rideau colleague of mine and me to have a telephone meeting with them. These were young leaders in the making and were part of this company’s emerging leaders’ program. They wanted to learn more about employee recognition and specifically about our recognition programs at Rideau.

Later, we were invited to attend an on-site meeting at the company head office. There we connected with these managers and their peers from across North America, both face-to-face and virtually.

While they were from various departments and held a variety of positions within the company, it was fascinating seeing the light go on for them, and their asking thought-provoking questions about employee recognition.

Their emerging leader program project required them to seek insights on best practices, creating a recognition strategy, and what programs would work best for their managers and employees.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every organization desired to develop their managers through an emerging recognition leaders’ program?

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