How To Get Ready For A Recognition Preference Interview

Your goal is to recognize your employees the best way you can. The recognition you give people needs to be seen and felt as being meaningful, memorable and motivational.

One great way to make this happen is to sit down with each of your employees one-on-one and conduct an informal recognition preferences interview.

The only problem is no one ever tells you how to do this.

I am going to spill the beans and give you some suggestions for how to prepare yourself and what you might ask when you finally sit down with your employees.

Are you ready?

  1. Setting the stage for the interview. Let employees know why you want to find out their recognition preferences. Acknowledge where you are not perfect at praising or expressing appreciation to staff and how you want to do better. Make sure you let employees know this is a two way process where they can ask questions too. Put them at ease by making the meeting more conversational than an interrogation. Once you’ve received the recognition insights on employees, tell them how you thought you would use the information. Share with the employee at least one item from the list or answers given that you feel comfortable committing to doing.
  2. Prepare yourself ahead of time. This recognition preference interview is no way near like a job interview which can be much more stressful. You will need to put the employee at ease by showing them how they’re helping you to give them better recognition. Prepare yourself mentally by being open-minded about what you will hear. You will have to be a good listener as you learn each employee’s recognition likes and dislikes, wants and needs, and praises and complaints about previous recognition attempts. Yet you need to be equally candid with them with what you realistically can and cannot do.
  3. Do your own homework. Prior to meeting with them compile some written notes of what you already know about the employee – hobbies or interests observed or shared, family situation, professional development taken, and career aspirations. Make note of what others have recognized this employee for and commented on to you. Take note of specific items on display in their office, cubicle or open office area, where permitted, to see if they give you any clues on interests or preferences. Where does this employee excel? What were their reactions to different types of recognition you have given them before? What do you think their likes and dislikes are? Create a profile so you can confirm or correct your impressions when you actually sit down to talk with them.
  4. Create a checklist of preferences. Besides asking the open-ended questions also have a standard checklist you can use with each employee. This allows you to see trends and patterns and provide insights on the variety and similarities of recognition preferences between different employees. Some of your checklist items might include:
  • Private versus public presentation of recognition
  • Public recognition or acknowledgment via an award, certificate or commendation
  • Private recognition from a boss, peer or customer
  • Identifying different levels of leaders and managers they’d most like to be recognized by
  • Whether they like to be surprised or only receive planned recognition
  • Tokens of appreciation preferred like coffee gift certificates, movie tickets, or bookstore gift cards
  • Leave a place to list their favorite foods, treats and beverages
  • How about a one-on-one time such as coffee or lunch with manager
  • Monetary reward such as a trip, prize or pay increase – where applicable
  • What gives them personal satisfaction or pride in their work

Taking the time to conduct a recognition preference interview will help you in many ways.

Investing the small amount of time to do this communicates to employees they are valued and respected. You also gain some valuable insights on employees you might never have known.

And bottom line, you have a better chance of giving employees the recognition they want in the way they want to receive it.

Question: How have you benefited from finding out employees’ recognition preferences?

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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