One challenge recognition program owners experience is how to get everyone in their organizations consistently using their recognition programs.
Today, I am going to share with you ways to move people, or induce them into action and steadily use your programs to recognize others.
How You Can Cue People To Recognize
What can you do to prompt people to use your recognition programs? It’s not like being a prompter supplying an actor with their forgotten lines from the theatre wings. You cannot sit on everyone’s shoulder giving them hints about whom to recognize.
The goal is to change your daily practices that will cause you to use your recognition programs better.
Essentially, we are helping to create habits in people to use your recognition programs.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, breaks down a habit into four parts, starting with a cue, a craving, a response, and a reward.
You need a cue or prompt that will trigger your brain to do a certain behavior, like use your recognition programs. These cues are meaningless until you interpret them. It is your thoughts, feelings, and emotions that transform the cue into a craving.
These cravings are the motivational force to change and perform a specific behavior. Researchers always link craving to a desire to want to change your internal state.
The third step is the response. This is the actual habit you perform. You might think something or complete an action. Your response depends on how motivated you are or how you want to avoid some discomfort. How capable are you in performing the habit is another factor?
Following your actual response comes the reward for fulfilling the goal of every habit. Rewards fulfill us by providing a satisfaction of our craving and they teach us which actions are worth remembering in the future.
Alright, after that review let’s apply these principles to using recognition programs.
The problem we have is people not consistently using their online recognition programs frequently enough. Your goal is to remove the pain from this problem. You know this, and you need to create the right cue and craving components.
The solution phase in creating a habit is managing the response and reward elements.
1. Cue: They have asked you to give genuine recognition to your staff using the recognition programs more often.
2. Craving: You want to please your superior by being compliant and increase the level of engagement with your employees.
3. Response: You go on your social recognition program first thing each morning and near the end of your day to send recognition messages.
4. Reward: You feel relieved that you won’t receive negative consequences from your boss. You felt good about your actions as employees communicate their gratitude for your messages.
The work of James Clear also points out the Four Laws of Behavior Change to help create positive habits. For example,
The 1st law (Cue): Make it obvious.
The 2nd law (Craving): Make it attractive.
The 3rd law (Response): Make it easy.
The 4th law (Reward): Make it satisfying.
So, ask yourself the following questions:
1. How can I make it obvious?
a. Get your recognition programs on mobile apps.
b. Share a great recognition story icon/image on the main page of your intranet.
2. How can I make it attractive?
a. Have an engaging icon link.
b. Let employees contribute ecard graphics/pictures.
3. How can I make it easy?
a. Use speech to text and easy typed messaging.
b. Quick 1, 2, 3, steps and then your recognition message is sent.
4. How can I make it satisfying?
a. Your leaders get reports, so they know how you’re using the programs.
b. Employees can like and star recognition messages giving you feedback.
Getting Consistent Recognition Program Usage
Getting the desired level of participation with your recognition programs requires a lot of off-line preparation and ongoing communication.
1. Setting expectations from leadership is essential. I am always amazed when I interview managers and I ask if anyone has ever laid out expectations to give recognition to staff. Often, the answer is “no”.
2. Giving feedback on how they are doing. You need to hold managers and staff accountable for giving recognition once you have set clear expectations. Ask questions for subjective feedback and drill down on the program reports for actual program usage.
3. Providing helpful resources. More managers than not would love to receive guidelines on what to recognize or reward, and when, and what their budgets are.
4. Education and training in recognition giving. Few people are born naturals on giving meaningful and effective recognition. Yet nearly everyone wants to learn or do better at expressing recognition and appreciation. Provide in-person and online e-learning to teach recognition skills.
5. Social reinforcement. Let the process of accountability from leaders and feedback from employees create a rewarding outcome of using recognition programs. Use performance conversations and pulse check surveys.
6. Recognition Communication Calendar. Continually send out recognition broadcast and expectations for using your programs and developing recognition practices. Work with your communications team to create a recognition communication calendar with thematic ideas sent out throughout the year, every year.
Examples To Cue Recognition Program Usage
Design procedures that will enhance recognition and remove the problematic attitude around employee recognition programs. Check out these examples:
Example #1: A director leader meets with their managerial direct reports on a weekly basis. They can learn from each manager some of the outstanding actions of their team members. Armed with this information, the director can go back to their desk and go on the social recognition program to give those employees mentioned a second-hand compliment based on what they learned that day.
Example #2: Managers have regular one-on-ones with each of their staff and learn about their successes. A manager can then commend them for their performance. They can also ask them who has made a difference to them that week from their team. This allows the manager to learn about the teamwork going on. And the manager can find out if the employee has already thanked their team member, and if not, encourage them to still reach out and express appreciation to them.
Recognition Reflection: How are you creating positive habits to use your recognition programs more consistently?
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.