How To Give More Consistent Recognition

One of the four criteria for the different levels on our Recognition Maturity Model is the variable of consistency.

If there is one thing, I hear all the time from recognition managers and program administrators; they hope to have more people consistently recognizing employees. And they also speak of wanting greater consistency of recognition across all areas of the organization, be that by departments or geographic locations.

Consistency is so important that is even one criterion on our Recognition Maturity Model, which you can learn more about here.

But what do we mean by giving consistent recognition? How can you make this happen across your organization?

Dive in to learn more about consistency.

Making Consistency Happen

Your goal is to get everyone to adhere to the same principles and practices of giving meaningful and effective recognition. Consistency with recognition occurs when everyone is in harmony and agreement with following the same patterns of behavior throughout the organization.

Recognizing those around you at work is not a complex matter, but a lot of things appear to get in the way for people to make it happen. Many people don’t know how to give recognition, and you need to show them how. Others see no benefit to doing it, so are unmotivated to recognize people. And some people don’t know when to give recognition.

I want to explore the Fogg Behavior Model outlined in in BJ Fogg’s book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything. I will refer to this model throughout the post and I highly recommend you getting and studying his book.

Every Behavior (B), both good and bad, comes from Motivation (M), Ability (A), and a Prompt (P). Fogg suggests the formula for any behavior, positive or negative, looks like this:

B = M+A+P

Some underlying principles observed from human behavior include:

  • The more motivated you are to do a behavior, the more likely you are to do the behavior.
  • The harder a behavior is to do, the less likely you are to do it.
  • The easier a behavior is to do, the more likely the behavior will become a habit

Changing Behaviors For Consistent Recognition

Fogg suggest that to develop a new behavior requires working backward on the above formula. You start first with a Prompt, then you move on to Ability, and finally you have to address Motivation.

What Prompt happens before we ever recognize anyone?

  • You might see a person helping a colleague.
  • You hear about the success of a recent team project.
  • You read about a recent sales win by a salesperson.
  • Someone shares with you about an idea they have.
  • One of your employees faithfully shows up early every day and is a loyal employee, even if they don’t produce standout results.

The bottom line, with the above Prompts, is you had interaction with an employee and learned about theirs actions or someone else’s, or you observed a positive behavior. 

Two Prompts could be:

  1. Increase the number of interactions you have with your employees. The more interactions you have, the greater chance you’ll have for more positive things to observe or hear about. (Learn more here.)
  2. Keep a record of all the positive things you see people do each day. This is just to notice the amazing work and positive behaviors people are doing. You don’t have to recognize anyone.

Your Prompts give you information and insight on great things people do that merit recognition.

Now what about Ability?

Your goal should be to help people to make recognition giving easier to do. Give them the behaviors and confidence to give meaningful and effective recognition. Show managers and employees how to give real recognition to people the right way.

Some Abilities to think about are:

  1. Overcome using general “good job!” expressions and learn instead how to use more specific language with your recognition. (Learn more here)
  2. Have a sit-down meeting with each employee once and find out what their recognition preferences are. Learning how someone likes to receive recognition will give you confidence to recognize them just as they like it.

Then you get to Motivation and your goal is to increase a person’s motivation to give recognition.

You don’t have to guilt them into giving recognition. Nor is this a matter of willpower. By having the Prompts in place and learning some new Abilities you didn’t have before, the best Motivator is having a good feeling in being successful in recognizing people.

Your Motivation steps could be something like:

  1. Keeping a logbook record in a notebook or on your computer as to your experiences in recognizing employees. Note how each recipient of recognition responded to your recognition expression. Also, record how recognizing people made you feel.
  2. Sharing your successes in recognizing people with a trusted friend or peer. Tell them everything you went through. Teach them the skills you are learning. Ask if they would try out the behaviors you have learned and invite them to report back to you.

Putting the above together, this is what you might see a person experience who you coach through this process.

Prompt: By setting a goal to “Keep a record of all the positive things [they] see people do each day,” they realize there are a lot of great people doing amazing things. This raises their awareness of the number and frequency of positive actions and behaviors happening. They say awareness is 60 percent of any solution.

Ability: By helping them to “Overcome using general ‘good job!’ expressions and learn instead how to use more specific language with your recognition,” they know how to give more meaningful and effective recognition to others.

Motivation: By “Sharing [their] successes in recognizing people with a trusted friend or peer” they positively reinforce themselves by the positive feeling of making someone’s day through recognizing them.

Now I know, in a short post like this, that the above instructions might oversimplify how to get people to become more consistent at recognizing others. But I hope you see some wonderful ways to start with.

Recognition Reflection: How do you strive to improve the consistency of recognition giving where you work?

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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