you think strategically about recognition and rewards or with trying to
implement them, do you have a logical order in how you think about them or
I have a bias in that I am foremost a recognition strategist before
thinking about rewards. But I completely understand the place for rewards and
know the value they play in both recognition and reward strategies.
I think there is a psychological and practical reason for prioritizing
recognition before rewards.
I have seen
where after a poor performance on the recognition measures of a recent employee
engagement survey that the CEO tells all the leaders and managers to go out
there and give more recognition to people.
You can probably
guess why the senior leader asked them to do that. The reason was to
improve the recognition scores on the next engagement survey.
from on high doesn’t work.
recognition to the people you work with for the sake of the numbers is not why
you want to recognize others more.
It is not about
numbers and measuring the occurrence of recognition. It is about giving
recognition more purposefully.
Effective use of
recognition programs and exemplary recognition practices are always driven by your
company’s organizational culture. Your culture must stimulate the positive
actions you want to see happening to get more people recognizing others more
frequently. Look at these Top 10 Ways to Drive Recognition Through Your Culture
to spark greater engagement.
Leaders need to own developing company culture. They are the ones who can see the big picture and the corporate vision. Leaders must not only drive organizational culture but also align it with the company business strategy, people strategy, and even your recognition strategy.
How leaders act and what they focus on determines your culture. Leaders must visibly demonstrate daily actions of recognition expressions and celebrating achievements. What employees see their leaders positively doing they will strive to emulate. It is much easier to follow good examples.
Establish a strategic recognition team/committee. Draw upon a diverse and inclusive representation of leaders and employees to steer the integration of recognition into all facets of work life practices. Have them flag any discrepancies with positively living the company culture from top to bottom.
Frame the value of recognition giving and start a movement. Encourage a small number of leaders and employees to become ambassadors of recognition giving. Commit them to passionately appreciate people for the great things being done. Show them how to effectively use your programs.
Expand recognition through company networks. There will be leaders and different departments whose people are better at recognition giving than others. Provide them the chance to share through email broadcast, printed articles, and video interviews how, and why, they are such good recognizers.
Evaluate your stated organizational values and beliefs. People leave and change and so do the way things are done. Your company values may need to be evaluated and revised to fit better. Staff must then identify whether their personal beliefs still mesh with the company’s values and direction.
Create unifying symbols of recognition for everyone. Ensure symbols of recognition are reinforced through branding and meaningful program names. Consider using social badges on your recognition website. Have branded tangible gift items available to acknowledge your employees achievements.
Set simple goals to achieve quick wins. Invite people to set realistic goals for how often they will give better and more effective recognition. Use forum pages or online social collaboration tools to share progress. Or post successes and what you’ve learned through your social recognition program.
Influence your culture through learning. Do what you can to create continuous learning opportunities to develop your culture and recognition giving skills. Get your learning development experts to utilize every available informal and formal learning method to enhance culture and recognition.
Call out the cultural expectations for recognition giving. Use all available communication channels to invite everyone to be true to your culture. Ask staff to gently remind colleagues when they’re not doing or saying things consistent with what your company believes. Recognize those who live it!
Previously published by the author in Incentive Magazine
Over the years I
have helped several large organizations in facilitating a team of their leaders
in developing a written recognition strategy. The challenge I face after they
have completed a recognition strategy session is leaving the owners of the
strategy document with instructions on how to implement it and then see them
make it happen.
recognition strategies become glorified documents that a manger or leader can
now say they have a written recognition strategy whenever someone asks.
But if you don’t
implement a strategy and plan then nothing ever changes.
Years ago when I
was leading a church congregation I invited a member to meet with me to discuss
a matter involving their publicly disciplining some of our youth. Ironically,
this individual also wanted to meet with me to discuss a different
We met that
evening, and I allowed them to start with their subject first. Afterward I
dealt with the more sensitive subject I had on my agenda. I can only tell
you it didn’t go over very well. In fact, they didn’t talk to me
for several weeks after.
However, I can
tell you I learned a very important lesson from that experience. And that
is, never mix agendas.
If someone wants
to see you about something, let that be the sole purpose for the meeting. Don’t
add something you have on your mind to the meeting.
In a similar
vein, never mix agendas with your employee recognition strategy either. Stay
focused on creating a recognition strategy all by itself and add nothing else.
are challenging things that people in corporations experience and one of
those times is when there is a merger and acquisition with another company.
affects people in so many ways and it can impact how you will proceed with
recognition and rewards.
that consulting firm McKinsey and Company found that “95 percent of
executives describe cultural fit as critical to the success of integration
following a merger. Yet 25 percent cite a lack of cultural cohesion and
alignment as the primary reason integration efforts fail.”
culture right is obviously critical after a merger.
he’s referring to here is that change is situational, as in the case we’re
discussing here with a merger. But transition is “the psychological process
people go through to come to terms with the new situation.” Thus change is
external and transition is internal.
There will always be horror stories around recognition programs if you don’t start off on the right foot.
And the irony of it all is the challenges most often come with the misnomer of calling these problematic programs “recognition programs”. Problems with errant programs usually lies when using rewards, be they tangible merchandise, cash, or near cash rewards.
So, get recognition programs right so there is equity and fairness with non-monetary and intangible recognition and tangible and monetary rewards accompanying these recognition programs.
There is also a need for authenticity and inclusiveness with the expressions of recognition given to people through your programs, whether this is by text, spoken word, or video. Recognition must be genuine and sincere in both intent and how it is communicated to a person. We should give regard to all employees who contribute day in and day out and not focus solely on the rising stars whose performance always exceeds the standards of most employees.
Recognition is for everyone.
You must make sure you get your recognition programs right.
Most organizations have a formal award programs that are their pinnacle of excellence for all their employees to aspire to.
You might have these kinds of formal programs where you work, too. They’re often called by a prestigious leadership position the company wants to associate with the award. You’ll hear awards named the President’s Award, Chairman’s or CEO’s Award. Or they may go for a more branded name appeal such as Bravo Award, Excellence Award, or Pinnacle Award.
Both position title or brand named awards, are usually appended with various award categories the company wants people to focus on. They attach qualities or values like Leadership, Innovation, Customer Service, or Citizenship, etc. to the award name.
But for all the time, effort, and energy put into these formal award programs you are likely only awarding around 1% to 2% of your employee base. In larger organizations this percentage is even less.
What can you do to elevate the quality of your existing formal award programs?