It is important to create a persona or profile of the leader or leaders you report to for when you need to present to them or gain approval on a proposal. Leaders think differently than rank-and-file employees. It’s these qualities that set them apart.
Read past talks they have given and check out the latest annual reports to gain insights about them.
Talk to people who know them the best like their assistants and other managers who have had dealings with them.
Gather details about their background and where they have worked along with the job positions they have held.
Know their motivations and pain points that will help you understand their priorities and how they make decisions.
What do you know about their personal life, significant others in their life, family and so forth? What are their hobbies and interest than might give a human connection for you to relate to?
How will understanding your leader’s point of view help you with your recognition strategy and planning?
Here are some reflections on the qualities of leaders and the implications for you as a manager or owner of recognition practices and programs.
Know them well. Make sure before you meet with your leaders you have got to know them well. Gain insights on what makes them tick—what motivates them. Understand their concerns and their pain points. Discover what keeps them awake at night so you can address this properly with your recognition ideas.
Think big picture. Give them the big picture and vision for your recognition strategy. Tell them what the purpose of recognition is at the company. Leaders want to see the roadmap of where your recognition strategy leads. Show them how recognition will support the organization’s business and people strategies.
Come with solutions. Bring well thought out solutions that provide along with a rationale for why you believe they will work. Your senior leaders do not want to hear about your recognition program problems. They are solution-oriented people and that separates them from followers—so bring solutions.
Value their time. Never waste the time of your leaders when sending requests to them or when you meet with them. Leaders are busy people and much of their time is spent on decision-making. Prioritize exactly what you need from the leader so they can estimate the time they need to decide. Be prepared to have to return and meet with them or receive an answer after they’ve had time to think on your plan or proposal.
Plan long-term. While leaders always want short-term results they also want to invest in the future. Show them a three-year recognition plan that shows goals and how you intend to get there with the help of others. Help the leaders see the potential benefits that will come from implementing such a plan. If you can, show them the business impact or projected ROI of your recognition plan.
Know the answers. Always expect questions you know various leaders will ask of you. Leaders are knowledgeable people and will see the strengths and weaknesses of most situations. Educate them on what you want to achieve with your recognition initiatives.
Listen very carefully. Leaders want to see you succeed so listen to their ideas, the questions they ask, and learn from their experiences. You can then reflect on what they are saying and ask intelligent questions of them. Seek clarification on anything you’re unclear on and propose alternate suggestions for feedback.
Always be prepared. Sometimes your encounters with leadership will be difficult. They will challenge the way you think to know that you are firm on what you are presenting. Stay on your toes and always come prepared with alternate plans and solutions and knowing the answers to their expected questions.
Once you’ve understood how your leader thinks the better prepared you’ll be with presenting your needs for employee recognition.
Recognition Reflection: Do you have a positive working relationship with the leader you report to about recognition?
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