There are various stages you pass through when using our recognition strategy approach. First, is crafting of a fitting recognition purpose and philosophy statement that is just right for your organization.
Then comes the identifying of the areas you have to focus on following a recognition assessment. All organizations have strengths and weaknesses. Know where to need to focus your energies to improve recognition practices and programs really helps.
But before you identify those focus points, there is one important thing you have to do. You need to declare what your overall guiding objective is to improve the quality of recognition for the year ahead.
Having articulated what this goal is will help your organizational leaders know what you should all be shooting for. And it helps you personally with an additional criterion point to use in making decisions.
Many in the recognition industry parlay about what people “said,” or what others have “seen,” on one survey or another, suggesting to the world that recognition improves employee engagement.
Some consultancy firms indicate where recognition “occurs,” whatever that means, that organizations have better employee engagement as well as improved key performance metrics. Recognition industry vendors indicate how many managers or employees “say” recognition made so many things totally awesome, such as employee engagement.
But what “people say” on a survey is not exactly sufficient proof.
Creating a written recognition strategy is not as easy as it seems to create. It should not simply repeat the organization’s vision and mission statements. Nor is it a set of aspirational goals that never amount to anything, let alone try to change things.
Richard Rumelt is the Harry and Elsa Kunin Emeritus Professor of Business & Society at the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management. And as you can guess, his focus is primarily on strategy. He knows a thing or two about strategy.
Let me share with you some insights I gained reading his book so far and then apply those ideas to crafting a good recognition strategy.
You’ve had an elite group of managers and leaders available to you to facilitate and help craft a recognition strategy and plan.
You randomly assigned this diverse and representative group to table groups or virtual teams to work on the recognition plan. You designated these seasoned and well-informed people to specific focus areas to create goals and action plans. There may, or may not be, experts on a team that know the subject of their focus area.
The result of a recognition strategy facilitation is having well-articulated statements of purpose and philosophy around recognition. Collectively everyone agrees on the overall, big-picture goal for the next year to help steer recognition activities. Even the focus areas for improving recognition are consistent with the prior gap analysis conducted.
You assigned each team a focus area that is most likely not in their expertise or specialty. Their skill sets are probably outside the domain you charged them with working on. As managers and leaders, they generated superb ideas and insights on the topic.
If there is anywhere where a problem might occur, it is with the goals, action plans, and outcome measures.
How do you refine these amazing ideas without offending the originators? What steps do you take to refine what you facilitated from them in the strategy session? How can you stay true to the process and honor the first contributors?
Okay, so you’ve written your recognition strategy. You have a vision and purpose statement for recognition practices and programs. You even have a plan drawn up with focus areas and objectives to see things implemented.
Do you just launch the thing and see your recognition strategy unfold? The details drawn up do not mean it will accomplish your strategy as is.
Life often has surprises in store for us. Even a recognition strategy can have surprises, too.
It seems not enough organizations hold their leaders and managers accountable for giving meaningful and effective recognition to their staff.
These same organizational leaders ask why responses to recognition questions on the last engagement survey did not turn out so well. It is as if it surprised them to see these low numbers. Surely, they would have expected these numbers if leaders regularly connected with their direct reports.
Their problem was they did not hold leaders and managers accountable for recognizing their employees.
You know how surprised I am that the percentage of organizations with a written recognition strategy has actually dropped from 55 percent back in 2017 down to 49 percent in 2019.
I guess the question remains to be answered why this is. And while WorldatWork never asked respondents to answer why they had a recognition strategy or not, the issue needs to be answered.
I won’t pretend to read people’s minds, but I can tell you from organizations I have subsequently worked with, why they didn’t have a recognition strategy before I worked with them. If you don’t have a recognition strategy, you just might relate with them.
Check out some reasons below that organizations might give for why they don’t have a recognition strategy.
One trend I am seeing with different clients over the last two years is the development of written recognition strategies.
Organizations are leveraging a tighter mandate on recognition, especially when coupled with rewards in their programs.
I’ve seen programs where lower-level reward amounts, whether point-based or gift cards, are opened up in global recognition and reward programs for employees to reward their peers. This can create problems when the cost of living is low in some countries and employees use the rewards more as a make up for lack of salary increases, rather than rewarding above and beyond actions. And some staff get into a tit-for-tat of “I’ll reward you if you’ll reward me” behaviors when controls or approvals are not present.
So, why should recognition be more strategic in your organization?