How To Keep Your Recognition Ideas Fresh and Inspiring

A challenge that one of our subscriber’s faces is keeping recognition in the forefront of people’s minds. Some of you likely experience the same problem.

You can find yourself asking questions of yourself, like:

  • Where do I come up with new ideas?
  • How do you make renewed efforts to keep recognition consistently happening?
  • What can I do to stop repeating the same message over and over again?
  • How do you inspire people to recognize others for their contributions?

We are going to explore ways to keep recognition alive and well in your organization.

Promoting Recognition Giving

You know the importance of continual communication to keep recognition on the top of people’s minds. I have written before on the importance of creating a Recognition Communication Calendar to guide you with what, how, and when, you will send out these messages.

It is critical that your communications move away from just the cyclical and themed events that happen each year. Sure it’s nice to invite and remind people of these activities, but people will likely not associate recognition with them.

You must use all of the communication channels available to you. Use them to provide indirect, and direct education, on how to give meaningful, memorable, and motivational recognition.

They can also be a tool for setting leader and organizational expectations for respecting and valuing the contributions that people make. It’s about encouraging leaders, supervisors, and frontline employees that no one should be taken for granted for the work they do.

Maintaining Momentum

You are not going to get very far with your communications if you don’t have a communication plan.

Write up a clear purpose statement about how communications will enhance and encourage recognition practices and effective use of recognition programs. Set some meaningful objectives for what you want to have happen by the end of next year. What educational goals can you impact through the different communication channels? Where is your company most lacking with recognition practices?

To make life easier for you with sparking ideas on what to communicate, create a thematic structure for yourself with categories that you can organize your ideas under. For example, for this Authentic Recognition blog, I use the categories of Strategy, Leadership, Recognition Practices, Recognition Programs, and Education. Choose categories that you can group the various questions and ideas under that you receive from employees and managers. Such a structure makes it easier to generate ideas as you rotate through each category. That is how I have written over 250 blog post so far.

Seeking New Ideas

There is no new idea under the sun. But there are always new ways of looking at recognition, and especially through someone else’s eyes.

So that you don’t get overwhelmed with being the sole source of content and communication, invite a volunteer team of content aggregators to help you look for, find, send, and write up ideas relevant to employee recognition. Each of us has some form of encounter or experience with recognition on a weekly basis. These experiences or observations can be material to learn from.

Look outside of the field of recognition in other areas of study and look for the recognition significance in the research or findings you come across. Keep a notebook handy or write down ideas in your notes section on your smartphone. I use the Byword app to record magazine article titles that resonate with me. I’ll adapt titles to apply to recognition ideas that the original title generated for me.

The biggest source of ideas for me is to always be asking questions of managers, employees, and those interested in recognition. This very article came about, simply because I asked my readers what their biggest struggle, problem, or need was, with employee recognition.

Create more emotion in your communications by seeking out and capturing the recognition stories in your organization. Interview recognition and award recipients. Tell their story and recognition experience in their own words. Share the impact that recognition had on individuals. And, don’t be afraid to tell the not so good experiences as well, so everyone can learn from such mistakes.

Build Upon Previous Messages

Develop an online forum or use collaborative communication tools to share questions and get other people’s suggestions. Talk directly to other managers and ask them where they are most challenged with giving recognition. This will provide ideas for future content and education needs.

Work with Organizational Effectiveness and Development folks, or Learning and Development leaders, to create specific educational content. You can promote these courses designed to address identified recognition needs. Promote the use of your organization’s Learning Management System or learning portal for courses specific to recognition.

Periodically, request the opportunity to conduct focus groups of 6 to 10 employees per group, from across the company, and ask what is working well with recognition and what needs to improve. Go beyond the annual employee engagement survey with its broad scoring of recognition. Dig deeper by using pulse check survey questions to a sample of employees to learn more and where to lead the future.

Create Resource Pages

On your company’s intranet or vendor managed recognition portal make sure you have a recognition resource page. Your job will then be to encourage and invite people to visit it, and to access the great content already there, as well as the newest and latest just added.

Suggestions for content can be short, one-minute tips and longer-length written articles on various aspects of employee recognition. Why not encourage employees to recommended great books to read on feedback, positive psychology, coaching, appreciation, and recognition. You can also include the most recent, as well as classic, academic references for those who like to research on the topic. And don’t forget to include short educational videos to help the visual learners get recognition right.

Different Messengers

Too often, recognition program owners think they have to be the sole messenger of recognition. You may own the program but you don’t own the recognition message. Instead, get guest contributors to write a short article for your company page or blog.

Senior leaders need to be a strong voice on the importance of recognizing employees. They need to communicate the expectation of great recognition giving. They must learn to be examples of recognition giving themselves. Hopefully, you have an executive sponsor who can be a regular communicator.

When employees identify an exemplary leader who is known for giving excellent recognition, this might warrant a video interview of the leader, and maybe their employees, and then you can highlight this video on the intranet site.

A Variety of Communication Mediums

Dependence on the written word whether by email, articles, or text messages, is often the most common communication method.

But there are plenty of other channels to use to communicate the value of effective employee recognition.

According to the “State of the Sector: Internal Communication and Employee Engagement” survey from IC Kollectif, the most highly used channels were, email announcements (79%), videos (78%) and electronic newsletters (75%). These were perceived to be very or quite effective by three-quarters of respondents or more.

Mediums that are increasing in popularity are podcasts, enterprise social network or collaboration tools, like Yammer, Jive, or vendor social recognition programs. Use of video recorded messages and tutorials are another idea. And other digital tools exist like chatbots or mounted TV screens around the company, displaying a rotating selection of recognition messaging.

Don’t forget to encourage cross-departmental communications and sharing of recognition practices, too.

I truly hope these suggestions will help you to create the fresh and inspiring ideas you need to help your employees give real recognition the right way.

Recognition Reflection: What are the varieties of ways you find most effective for continually promoting the importance of giving recognition?

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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