How to Create a Recognition Strategy – Part 4 of 4

implementation concept with business word cloud on blackboard

Most improvement or strategic initiatives can be challenging to implement. For a recognition plan to be successful, you will need some or all of the following five factors in place:

  1. Senior leadership support: Senior leadership support as a whole or at least a senior leader sponsor is required to make recognition practices and programs seen as a serious contributor to business success. Such support could consist of representation of the recognition strategy at senior level meetings and liaison with recognition practitioners on requests for using recognition to help address business needs.

  1. Employee involvement in ideas and improvements: Since recognition impacts employees the most, and recognition is such an important driver of employee engagement, get direct input and feedback on recognition initiatives. Organizations can utilize intermittent “pulse check” surveys of employees; random sampling focus groups to seek input; and open feedback from intranet recognition portals and emails.
  1. Organization-wide approach versus department-owned approach: From a strategic approach, the recognition strategy philosophy and purpose should be organization-wide. When implementing the recognition plan, allowance should be made for unit or department interpretation. For example, companywide strategy would direct why recognition is important, and how and what can be recognized. This could influence       may exist such as service awards or incentive programs for rewarding values driven behaviors. An existing smaller, departmental program with a quarterly award for an employee demonstrating best customer service may still be acceptable if aligned with the recognition strategy purpose and objectives.
  1. Relationship based as well as performance based: The human element of recognition cannot be ignored, as recognition is based upon strong relationships between people. Recognition is primarily a felt or emotional response. Performance is also a key component, given that the beneficiary of recognition— via satisfied employees — is improved performance.
  1. Accountability and performance development: Like any strategic plan, a recognition plan needs regular reviews – a minimum of an annual formal review and ideally monthly or quarterly – to keep everyone accountable for the implementation objectives. Managers may need education and training to use programs effectively or practice better interpersonal delivery of recognition. 

I am a strong advocate of creating 90-Day action plans that will help you implement each of the Focus Points in your Recognition Plan. A Recognition Steering Committee or assigned leader should hold these Focus Point Plans accountable.

If you are a mid- to large-size organization you will likely have the resources to set up separate teams or committees to tackle each of the Focus Points. For small businesses, my recommendation is to simply prioritize your Focus Points and start one at a time until all are completed.

For each 90-Day cycle action plan you will have the teams provide you with an email or phone report every 30-days. Then at each 90-Day mark they must give an accounting with a written report as to their accomplishments and challenges, and what their next 90-Day plan will be on their Focus Point area.


Recognition can be a powerful driver of performance and engagement. Getting recognition right, however, does not happen by chance. It needs strategic guidance by crafting a well-articulated recognition strategy to unite leadership about the “why” of recognition practices and programs. By having a concrete and measurable plan of action you can guarantee the development of more effective programs and ensure recognition practices are well implemented and help to achieve your organization’s business goals.

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.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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