How To Divide and Conquer Your Recognition Strategy

One challenge with any strategy development occurs after senior leaders have invested their time and energy in creating one. They just don’t give the same emphasis to implementing the strategy.

This happens for recognition strategies just as much as it does for business strategies.

A lot of work can go into creating a written recognition strategy and then it sits there. It’s a nice-looking document that does no good unless someone moves it into action.

Follow are suggestions for implementing your recognition strategy by dividing and conquering wherever you can.

1. Create a Visual Representation of Your Recognition Strategy Model

Collaborate with your leaders and facilitate together a Recognition Purpose statement that becomes your vision for recognition and the “why” or reason recognition is so important. Create a Recognition Philosophy statement that outlines what your organization’s leaders believe recognition can do for their employees and customers.

The organizational values should be foundational and drive recognition practices and usage of your recognition programs.

Work with your graphics people in communications or work with an external graphic agency to help create a colorful and simple representation of your recognition strategy.

I have seen graphic designs of pyramids, buildings, and Roman looking pillars like the Pantheon—all holding up the recognition vision, built upon organizational values, and highlighting the goals of the recognition strategy.

It has to be simple for all employees to understand and grasp exactly what this recognition strategy means and will do for them.

When you get everyone understanding it you will get a few people committing to want to help you. If you just keep it in HR, or whoever owns recognition and rewards, you’ll never be able to enlist the help of others. When you distribute your strategy model and document, invite volunteers to come forward to help you make it happen.

2. Draw Up A Recognition Plan of Action

You need to outline a plan of action to make recognition integrated throughout the organization and aligned with your business strategy and objectives. All employees can become a part of making the plan happen.

Do a gap analysis to identify the organization’s strengths and weaknesses with current recognition practices and recognition program usage. Leaders can recommend direct and specific goals for addressing these gaps and how recognition can reinforce the culture and support strategic initiatives. 

Ask your leaders to recommend employees best suited to assist with or own a particular goal. There’s another way to lighten your load.

3. Determine the Focus Points

You, and any team members you may have working with you, cannot pretend to do everything.

One way to help with the divide-and-conquer approach is to narrow down on a vital few areas to focus on that I call Focus Points. Select no more than six focus points—the fewer the better, to make significant headway on any of them.

Examples of Focus Points I have seen include:

Define Recognition; Education and Training; Peer-to-Peer Ownership; Communication Strategy; and, Develop Recognition Programs.

Have the senior leaders or managers who helped create the recognition strategy and goal, categorize what the focus points or areas should be to improve recognition practices and programs at your organization. There you have your leaders making life easier by telling you where you and the management team need to focus their efforts.

4. Know What Your Goals Are for Each Focus Point

If you will implement and act on a Recognition Strategy, then you need to set some specific implementation objectives for each Focus Point. 

Then you must figure out how you will measure the successful completion of each goal. What are your measurable outputs of the actions performed? What specific outcomes do you want to see achieved?

Example of Goals and Outputs:

  • Develop awareness that we have a recognition strategy > Survey employees to determine the number of employees who are familiar with the Recognition Strategy, recognition practices, and recognition programs.
  • Train our managers on what recognition is and how to give it the right way > Follow up with managers who receive training as to how beneficial the training is > And, survey employees to gauge their perception of managerial improvement with recognition.

5. Communicate Out and Cascade Down Your Recognition Strategy

Most employees will never know about, or be a part of creating, a recognition strategy. But you can enlist their help to be a part of implementing it.

Now you have a visual representation of your recognition strategy and your document completed. Get out and talk about it and send it out to all employees. This is a strategy that will help them feel more valued for who they are and the contributions they make on the job. 

Use every channel of communication available to you. If you have communications department, have them develop a recognition communications calendar for the year, and each year thereafter. Senior leaders and front-line employees can deliver those recognition messages via print, video, and face-to-face in meetings. 

Invite staff to become recognition ambassadors to keep recognition alive throughout the year in their team or department.

6. Dividing and Conquering with Implementation Assignments

My experience with large organizations is they often create teams or committees that own implementing a recognition strategy. Leaders may assign specialists or subject matter experts to the committee and they can often draw upon small sub-teams or specialist departments to work on tasks.

This is a luxury that small organizations simply never have. Often a recognition strategy is created, a wonderful plan is written up, and then it is left on the desk of the one HR specialist to make it happen.

The only recommendation I have in those circumstances is to make the creators of the recognition plan prioritize the focus points they want done in order. Then you at least have a prioritized list, which becomes your to-do list to work on one goal at a time. While you can’t pretend to get everything done by yourself, at least you have a direction to move in.

7. Always Build In Accountability with Return and Report

Without accountability and plans to return and report on developments nothing will ever change.

Request a senior leader as the executive sponsor for the recognition strategy and determine their preference for accountability meetings—at least annually and quarterly preferred.

I always recommend using 90-Day Action Plans in large organizations to tackle each of the Focus Points. Different teams can create their own 90-Day Action Plan for each Focus Point and separate goals. At 30-day intervals the team lead can provide an email summary of actions to date. Then at the 90-Day mark they submit a written report to the committee chair outlining actions completed and recommendations for the future.

Each team then resets or continues on with achieving goals for another 90-Day Action Plan.

The fun part, if the job roles of team members permit, is to try 2-week sprints of working on a single task to focus energies and get something done.

For smaller organizations and sole practitioners, follow the prioritized to-do list with the next Focus Point you’re working on. You can work with a 90-Day Action if that helps. However, with juggling so many other things in your job role, some to-do listitems may rise to the top earlier because of supportive circumstances within the organization.

Consider creating a simple visual summary or benchmark by reporting on the Number of Focus Points, the Number of Goals Set, Reports on the Outcomes Achieved, and Percentage of Goals Completed.

Every step of the way look for ways to share the responsibility of recognition with leaders, managers, and employees.

Recognition is not solely a Human Resources responsibility. It’s everyone’s responsibility.

Recognition Reflection: In what ways do you enlist the help of others with implementing your recognition strategy?

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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