Four Criteria You Need for a Successful Recognition Program

To be successful with any recognition program, create criteria that you can measure your success by. How else will you know whether your recognition programs are achieving the results you want from them? 

In our Recognition Maturity Model, we have built in four criteria that help determine where you stand with recognition across nine categories, such as leadership, culture, programs, and analytics.

Look at the following criteria to see where you think your recognition programs stack up.

Criteria #1: Recognition Alignment 

Like anything with moving parts, you have to make sure it aligns them so they can run smoothly and help you get where you want to go.

The first area of alignment you need is alignment with your organizational culture. Does your organizational culture drive recognition practices and use of your programs? For example, a majority of employees should know and understand your values so they can identify people showing the values and recognize them for doing so. 

Culture drives recognition, and recognition reinforces your organizational culture.  

The second alignment area is with your organization’s business strategy and people strategy. This is where you can leverage recognition and rewards to reinforce and recognize people for reaching the organizational goals you want to achieve. 

If you want to be known as an innovative organization, for example, as one of your strategic goals, then recognize people for showing innovative activities. Formal awards can celebrate outstanding innovative projects achieved at an annual event. 

Criteria #2: Recognition Consistency 

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns or complaints about employee recognition in many organizations is the lack of consistency of recognition happening. 

This lack of consistency stems initially from the leadership and not having a written recognition strategy. Get everyone on the same page with a solid plan and goals for what you want to do about recognition practices and use of recognition programs. 

You also need to make recognition a competency or capability of all managers and hold them accountable in whatever performance management approach you use. Setting organizational expectations of their leaders to give meaningful and effective recognition goes a long way to developing recognition consistency. 

With expectations set for recognition giving you can more easily establish consistency individually as well. If a person is not a natural at giving recognition, they can create a plan for what they will do better at with recognition on a weekly and monthly basis. Provide resources, books, articles, training videos, and other instructional content on how to give more meaningful recognition to others. 

Criteria #3: Recognition Quality 

How would you best describe the quality of recognition given at your organization? 

Believe it or not, there are still some organizations out there where there is no recognition. No one is practicing recognition giving and programs are non-existent.

When I started in the recognition field, I thought I would market myself to organizations where no recognition occurred and then go out and save the world. It was not a very effective marketing strategy. 

The companies that requested my services were the ones who were already doing recognition. They were just not doing it well enough. It wasn’t quality recognition. 

You need to see authentic, or real, recognition as the quality of recognition to reach for. With this type of recognition people are practicing genuine and authentic recognition, and people use the recognition programs frequently and meaningfully. 

Criteria #4: Recognition Impact 

I think most organizations today have risen above recognition giving as just a “feel-good” activity that they have to do because everybody else is doing it. 

Organizations want to know the impact and ROI of recognition programs and whether the various adopted recognition practices are making a difference. 

There are two levels of broad impact you should measure with recognition. 

The first of these is the level of impact recognition has on the people. Look to gauge the impact of recognition by finding out if your employees value recognition and creates a positive employee experience. Recognition is a powerful driver of employee engagement and can be easily linked to the overall employee experience.

A second area of impact to be on top of is the impact of employee recognition on performance. Recognition is a driver of excellent performance metrics and can help move the dial on customer/client/patient satisfaction measures, productivity and other performance measures, and things like reducing employee turnover. 

Having some clear criteria for your recognition programs gets you out of comparing with the other organization’s supposed best practices. Instead, you have some potential criteria to evaluate your programs and make the necessary changes to elevate the success of your recognition practices and programs. 

Recognition Reflection: What are the criteria you use to assess the success of your recognition programs?

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