How To Hold People Accountable for Giving Better Recognition

Holding people accountable for giving effective and meaningful recognition brings together something good—recognition—with something uncomfortable, like, accountability.

It takes courage to deal with the conflict of holding people accountable. And courage is exactly what good management requires.

Follow these accountability steps to move the dial on recognition giving.

Step 1: Does Everyone Know the Expectation To Give Recognition?

One of the biggest reasons recognition doesn’t happen in an organization is because no one has set out what they expect. Tell people exactly how to express appreciation to employees for who they are and what they bring to the workplace. Prepare managers on how they can effectively recognize employees for what they do and reward people for exceptional results.

Recognition must become a part of the way you do things in your organization. Your mission and values should drive recognition giving, and recognition can help reinforce the living of your value and mission. Set the expectation for giving recognition is the first place to start.

Step 2: Do They Know How To Give Meaningful Recognition?

Often organizations hire managers or they rise to their current position based on technical competency skills versus people skills. Few managers know how to give meaningful recognition the right way. Yet, Gallup organization states that managers contribute 70 percent of the variance between highly engaged organizations and low engaged workplaces.

If managers don’t know how to give effective recognition, then you must give them the education and resources to learn these skills. Find out what your learning and development folks can help you with. Or reach out to me here to learn about our microlearning courses that target various recognition behaviors. 

Step 3: Is Recognition Clear On Performance Management?

Too often, employee recognition does not appear on the standardized and proprietary performance management tools and frameworks used to score managerial performance. Request adding recognition skills on whatever tools or competency models you are using. If not possible, then set up a pulse check survey to find out, anyway.

Managers need to know what quality recognition looks like, whether it is aligned with the organization’s business and people strategies, if recognition is given frequently enough, and how consistent managers are in recognizing staff. Your employees will be a significant feedback source, so make sure you ask them through surveys or focus groups.

Step 4: Who Holds Who Accountable?

Traditionally, it is the leader a manager reports to that holds a person accountable for giving effective recognition to employees. 

However, employee engagement surveys, pulse check surveys, and one-on-one meetings, also give opportunity for employees to hold their managers accountable as they respond to recognition related statements and questions on the survey. If recognition questions or statements do not exist on your survey, work towards seeing that change. You may have to use a pulse survey specifically using recognition questions designed by your organization if you are using proprietary employee engagement surveys.

Step 5: What Recognition Actions Are They Doing?

Drill down with managers to find out what specific positive feedback and recognition behaviors that managers are doing. 

In your one-on-ones, or those by senior leaders, find out how managers spend their time with employees. A leading indicator of frequent recognition giving is the number of positive interactions a manager has with each employee. The more encounters a manager has with employees, the greater the chance they have of hearing about positive behaviors and exceptional performance to recognize.

You might also learn of some recognition actions that could be improved upon. For example, you might have to coach them to be more specific with their recognition rather than using generalities.

Step 6: How Are Their Performance Results?

Start correlating recognition output data from using online recognition programs with various objectives and key performance results. You’ll soon see a pattern where those managers who are better at giving recognition have employees who have greater productivity and better key performance metrics.

See if your recognition programs or recognition program vendor can go beyond descriptive analytic reports and move more towards predictive and even prescriptive analytics. Managers need to know how well they stack up against their peers and need recommendations for how they can best use the recognition programs they have. 

Step 7: Have You Written Out The Next Steps?

After any accountability or feedback meeting with a manager about effective recognition giving, you need to set a call to action for that manager. Record what they intend to do to improve their recognition practices. Negotiate a date together when they expect to learn or apply a specific skill or practice, and when you or their manager will follow up with them. 

Now you must write this all out so the manager knows what to expect next and when you will follow up with them on implementing this next step.

Working on these steps will help improve the accountability needed to make recognition better and more frequent where you work.

Recognition Reflection: What do you do in your organization to hold people accountable for recognizing employees? 

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