It is wonderful when leaders take the bull by the horns to highlight new initiatives like your recognition programs, perhaps new program features, merging of company recognition platforms, you name it.
Have your president and/or CEO become well versed in describing and explaining the features of the recognition programs. Then have your CHRO reveal your program and demonstrate how you can recognize a colleague.
To have your recognition programs stand out from the crowd, you must have leaders who will lead the way with them.
Town Hall or All Staff Meeting
Your C-suite Leaders can share the story of your recognition programs at a town hall or all staff meeting, whether in person or virtual. Have them tell the origin of the program with an account and backstory behind the recognition program.
It is important to share the names of the individuals involved in the design and development of the recognition program.
Your leaders must set the expectation to use the program meaningfully and frequently. They can even spell out what they intend to do themselves in the first month following the program launch.
They must set the standard for other leaders to follow in order to discount the naysayers who are always present. And they can publicly acknowledge those leaders who have been exemplary in recognizing staff.
Leaders Using the Programs
Leaders will need help and support to make full use of your recognition programs. It will be good to work with their assistants. They can encourage leaders to create time block opportunities on their calendars to use the online recognition programs.
Similarly, leaders can request their assistants and direct reports to inform them, at least weekly, of the exceptional performers and outstanding actions of employees. This gives them the context and source of examples who merit being recognized.
When leaders notice staff who go above and beyond, they can nominate those employees to receive a high performance award from your formal award programs.
Email Instructions and Expectation Setting
Draw on your communications team to use the voice of your leaders to set recognition expectations for employees. This can range from stating the minimum frequency of usage of programs all the way to launching campaigns that get people excited.
Leaders can sponsor the launch of programs and give initial video instructions on using the online recognition programs. Naturally, they can turn the time over to more informed experts who know the programs inside out to continue the instruction.
And your various leaders can share examples of staff who are living the organizational values and have made a difference.
Video Endorsements & Tutorials
It is great for your marketing and communications teams to use your leaders to provide video endorsements explaining the importance and impact of your recognition programs.
I have seen where a CHRO from a Swiss company interviewed a senior leader about recognition. I provided the scripted questions and prepared answers. It was the leader’s job to give spontaneous and informed responses to the questions. Employees received these video recorded exchanges very well. And the videos humanized the leader and educated the staff about recognition practices.
Leaders can talk about the power of recognition and its impact on employees. They can show staff how to use your recognition programs with the help and support of your learning development or communications team. It is good for your leaders to share their personal challenges and successes with using the recognition programs.
LED Screen Monitors
Make sure you take full advantage of your LED screen monitors around the organization. This is where you can share bite-size sound bites and video snippets from your leaders, giving insights and tips about recognition.
Capture scenes of your leaders presenting awards to employees from across the organization and highlight those employees. Capture a smiling shot of the employee with the leader and state what they did to merit the award.
Show your senior leaders actively recognizing employees across the organization. Have quotes and statement about recognition practices and principles from different leaders randomly displayed on the screens to encourage recognition giving.
Most organizations send out an employee newsletter to staff by email. Have your president or CEO include a recognition message periodically on the front page of your electronic newsletter.
Research has shown that employees are not clicking as often on URL links to read further for printed content in electronic newsletter. But they are more likely to click on an email that has a thumbnail image that leads to playing a video.
Leaders Making the Rounds
When leaders make the rounds of the organization to make personal visits, it creates a powerful buzz. There is a sense of prestige to say that a senior leader visited your department. Always have the photographer on hand to capture the occasion. Invite non-departmental staff on hand to assist with taking selfies so all staff can be in the pictures.
Have the executive’s assistant create a cheat sheet guide for the recognition accomplishments they will be acknowledging, and details about the people being recognized. Make sure they have ample time to stop, talk, and visit with employees. This is recognition PR in action. The authenticity of a leader’s visit is instantly magnified.
Leaders Present & Engaged at Events
Remind your executives that when leaders are in the room, they must be in the room. Smartphones, other electronic devices or the pressure of upcoming meetings can ’t distract them. They have to be fully present and engaged with people during recognition meetings and award events.
If you have your senior leadership team at an awards event, it is good for them to sit down at tables with staff. Leave a chair at the tables available for a leader to be seated at. You can randomly assign leaders to tables or leave an empty chair so they can roam around and sit down where they would like. It is important for leaders to connect with staff like this beyond being on the stage.
Prime your leaders to be prepared with stories and insights about award recipients. Use their assistants to work with communication team members to know the people and how to pronounce the names of award recipients. They must be current on the awards being presented and on why the formal award exists. Their focus is to honor and celebrate every employee.
These are just a few ideas on how you can use your leadership team to make recognition and the recognition programs you have to stand out in your organization.
Recognition Reflection: What do you do to get your leaders involved and engaged with your recognition programs?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.