In my earlier life as a speech-language pathologist, I vividly recall an external consultant coming into the hospital I worked at analyzing our organizational challenges. We brainstormed and followed his facilitated methods to let some potential plans and goals unfold.
And so, our creative content on the flip chart sheets was all typed up and distributed to the attendees. That’s where they sat, so it seemed, for many months. I told our hospital’s CEO that there was a problem with this consultant’s work. They set nothing up for implementing the plans.
I recently finished helping a client’s organization team in drafting a recognition plan to address their gaps with recognition practices and recognition programs. I nicely printed everything up in a flow chart looking model.
I will not leave them alone with this document. I have prescribed a method for how to implement their recognition plan so they will achieve success.
What is a recognition plan?
A recognition plan is a strategy document laying out how to integrate recognition practices and programs into an organization that reinforces and supports the organization’s business and people strategies, as well as the organizational culture.
The leadership team enlisted to craft the recognition strategy and plan first develops a recognition purpose and philosophy statement. A recognition purpose and philosophy statement are most often two well-crafted sentences that articulate an organization’s reason for giving recognition to employees, along with the beliefs underlying their purpose. It has an internal organizational focus aimed at their employees. It also has an external organizational focus answering why an organization recognizes employees from the point of view of their customers and the broader community.
Next, this team sets an overall guiding objective to help focus the organization on what needs to be done to improve the quality of recognition over the next one-year time period. This is the big-picture macro-aim to address the identified gaps with recognition in the organization.
The practical purpose of a recognition plan is to create a set of objectives under specific focus point topics. They target these focus point areas to help an organization address their current strengths and weaknesses with employee recognition practices and programs.
A focus point category heading might be something like Defining Recognition, Education and Training, or Accountability. The team assigned to help solve their current recognition issues chooses these category topics.
They divide the larger group into smaller teams assigned to each focus point, such as Defining Recognition. Their job is to brainstorm objectives specific to their focus point that will be implemented over the next year. These implementation objectives for this focus point could look like:
- Write a definition of recognition for ABC Company (via the Recognition Committee)
- Re-establish our organizational values.
- Link recognition to our values.
- Use case examples (ongoing with plan to collect examples)
- Test the recognition definition and iterate as necessary.
- Validate recognition of our values.
- Determine metrics to validate our progress.
The next step is to identify the logical outputs, or measurements, so the team that is assigned to implement their focus point goals can gauge if they are making progress and are successful.
Output measures for the implementation objectives associated with the focus area of Defining Recognition might end up as:
- Publish definition through all mediums, including our intranet.
- Provide materials and insights from the process to share with other Focus Point teams.
- Plan to ask employees about their understanding of recognition through a survey
Working On Your Own
When you are the only person responsible for recognition where you work and no one else is available to help you, prioritize your focus points into a list and start working on the top ranked focus point on your list.
Each focus area has some proposed implementation objectives assigned to it. You even have some logical implementation outputs to measure your progress to know when you’ve successfully achieved the goal.
Let’s continue on with the earlier focus point of Defining Recognition. You decide that this focus point is number one on your list for you to tackle as the sole project owner.
Defining recognition is a narrow, focused goal for you to handle. You might lead your initial ideas for a recognition definition and then run it by a few other leaders before getting your CEO’s final endorsement.
Once completed, you move on to number two of the remaining focus points in order of importance and urgency. Remember, there is no absolute right or wrong order in which to proceed, unless one focus point requires the completion of another first.
Even though the ideal is to finish all the goals from your focus points in one year, you simply may not get them all done in view of your other responsibilities. But at least you have a projected order to pursue the remaining goals. By acting on the goals you have prioritized, you will be much further along on improving recognition than if you didn’t have a plan at all.
Working In A Larger Organization
When you work for a large, enterprise size organization, you are more than likely have access to resources from specialized departments, such as Communications, Learning & Development, or Organizational Development. Likelihood is high that you can also get permission to solicit interested employees to be on the focus point teams.
Your load becomes easier as you oversee these implementation teams, and then they work independently to achieve their focus point objectives.
You might work with a communications specialist in drafting a Recognition Definition. From there, you could get the input on the draft definition from your recognition steering committee. After this, you can send the new definition on to your executive sponsor for final approval.
In a larger organization, each focus point area is worked on simultaneously by different implementation teams.
For your Recognition Education and Training focus point, you could have a specialist from Learning and Development (L&D) head that team. Ask for volunteers to round out the team you need. They might recommend developing a new learning curriculum for onboarding or for leadership development. Depending on time and availability, your L&D lead may deliver the training across the organization. They could also draw upon their fellow team members to present the education content to different departments.
How To Implement Your Recognition Action Plan and Make Things Happen
I always recommend following a 90-day Action Cycle with two-week sprint runs of activity, no matter whether a small or large organization.
This could be for your own benefit only or for each of the Action Teams. Break down the goals for each focus area into 90-day activities. A focus team, for example, would show what they want to achieve towards their area’s goal within the next 90-days.
They look at the first 30-days and figure out what the first task should be. They might have two broad tasks that they identify. That’s when the team can create a two-week sprint to achieve one of those tasks and then another two-week sprint for the next task.
When employees volunteer to be on these teams, they have their regular jobs to do as well. By breaking things down into these time chunks, it makes working on these teams appear more manageable and enjoyable.
The lead person for each focus team will then send reports to the recognition manager on their progress. These updates can be a simple email every 30-days. Then, at the 90-day milestone, the team leads should send you a one-page summary report.
Create a report template for your team leads to make things easier for them. Your report template for your 90-Day Recognition Action Plan could highlight boxes showing the following details:
Your Overall One-Year Short-Term Objective
Here you would write the overall one-year objective from the overall Recognition Plan. This helps everyone to remember how their focus point contributes to improving recognition practices and recognition programs over the one-year time period for your organization.
Write out the category name of your team’s focus point for recognition that they are working on.
The team leader should spell out the team’s 90-day recognition goal(s) for their focus point.
Project Leader(s) and Team Members
Obviously, list the team leaders’ name and all the team members’ names.
Specific Actions To Be Taken
As a team, identify the specific actions the team has brainstormed to address their team focus area goal. You can show who they have assigned the various actions to and what the due dates are for their completion.
Sprints 1 & 2.
Remember, this is the idea of generating 2-week sprints to tackle two tasks towards your 30-day goals, the first third of your 90-Day Recognition Action Plan.
Naturally, if this was just yourself working on your prioritized list of focus areas, one at a time, you could use the same report format to submit to your leader.
Then you start over again for the next 30-day period, establishing the goal for the next month and setting 2-week sprint activities to get working on.
The key to your success in implementing your Recognition Plan is doing everything you can to move one step forward with progressive actions.
That is how you implement your recognition plan the easy way.
Recognition Reflection: What do you do to ensure teams take action on implementing your recognition plans?
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.