Does Having a Written Recognition Strategy Really Make Any Difference?

Apparently, some people question the need for a written recognition strategy. These are some things individuals responsible for recognition ask.

  • What benefit does an organization have with a recognition strategy over other organizations that don’t have one?
  • How does a recognition strategy really help me?
  • Does having a recognition strategy make any difference? 

Sure, you can live without having a recognition strategy. But I will always strongly endorse the need for having one. Following are my reasons why.

Benefits of a Recognition Strategy

When you have explicit statements made about the purpose and beliefs around employee recognition, you will have clarity around the direction to lead recognition towards.

You know the next step to take every day. It gives you the areas to focus on. Objectives will spell out something you can tackle over the next two weeks at any point in time. 

Each organization should have wonderful examples of different types of recognition practices and programs. These practices and programs typically fall under one of the three tiers of the recognition pyramid, everyday, informal, and formal recognition practices and programs. 

You can drill down further and spell out the names of your recognition programs at each level on the recognition pyramid. If you don’t have practices and programs associated with each level, this may help you prioritize potential programs in the near future.

Having a recognition strategy and plan gives you a written document to discuss with the senior leader you report to. This gives them a big picture view, along with the goals and actions needed to maintain and grow better recognition. 

All of this gives leaders the tools they need to hold you and others accountable for recognition program usage. And it helps them to know what and how to evaluate the performance results of all of your programs. 

How a Recognition Strategy Helps You Personally 

Program owners should also accompany your recognition strategy with a recognition plan. This recognition plan will have clear and specific objectives for maintaining and improving recognition practices and programs. 

So, your recognition strategy helps you by laying out a step-by-step plan for you to follow each year. You’ll have crafted with your team a one-year overall objective. This gives you a first-round criteria to evaluate any recognition initiative by. Do you proceed or discard the idea?

From your recognition plan, you have the top four to six focus areas that lay out the goals and outcomes to be achieved. If you work single-handedly, then you can prioritize the order of these focus points and work on them one at a time. Should you have access to other department leads and employee volunteers, then you could assign people to own each of the focus areas. That way, these teams can work on each focus area simultaneously. 

This is when momentum can really happen. I recommend each focus area team create 90-day action plans to progress their goals. Expect them to report in with updates every 30-days. Then, when the 90-days is up, request a one-page progress report. You can then submit these reports to your senior leader to show how the recognition strategy is actively being worked on. 

You can see how a recognition strategy and plan can become your best friend to ensure success with your recognition practices and programs. They become your work orders, your tracking of achievement, and a guaranteed position enhancer.

Difference When You Have a Recognition Strategy 

Imagine that your organization’s recognition practices and programs are aligned with your organizational culture and with your business and people strategies.

Now the C-suite discuss recognition as a powerful leveraging tool for reaching various strategic initiatives. People not only know the organizational values, but people are living them because others acknowledge them for doing so through your recognition programs.

Recognition practices and programs are transparent to all levels of employees because you have laid out in writing your purpose, philosophy, and plans for recognition. Employees can get on board with helping the recognition cause since they know exactly what is going on, and the reasons why.

Life is actually a lot easier once everything is down on paper. You are no longer trying to defend recognition programs and budgets. You can simply declare what the organization’s strategy and plans are.

And you will be one of the few organizations that have a written recognition strategy. Less than half of the organizations last surveyed by WorldatWork have a written recognition strategy. You can be added to the ranks of those who have one.

Yes, you will still have technology issues with your recognition programs. Your managers and employees may not fully use your programs the way they should. There will be outlier leaders who just don’t “get” recognition. 

But, with a recognition strategy and plan in hand, you can more firmly address every single issue. You can adjust and fix things using your strategy and plan to support you. A revised focus area may be needed, which still helps the organization achieve its overriding one-year objective.

A written recognition strategy and plan makes a big difference. Don’t leave work without one. 

Recognition Reflection: How has your written recognition strategy made a difference to you and your organization?

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