One of the exceptional assets any organization has with their employee recognition programs is the very employees you recognize, praise and celebrate.
That’s why I think too many organizations lose out on one of the biggest solutions to advocating recognition practices and higher usage of their recognition programs. Yep, your employees.
Today, I am going to share with you how to enlist small groups of employees to become your recognition ambassadors. And once you have launched these ambassadors within your organization, then employee recognition will never be the same.
Let’s find out how you can create and orient some special employees to become your recognition ambassadors.
Wanted: Recognition Ambassadors
Each organization will discover that finding and selecting recognition ambassadors will either be very easy or quite difficult.
Your organizational culture, both explicit and hidden, will drive the willingness of frontline staff to volunteer their time, energy, and effort in being the people who exemplify great recognition giving. Get your executive team, especially the executive champion for employee recognition, to message out the need for recognition ambassadors and encourage participation with the online recognition and reward programs.
Finding recognition ambassadors does not differ from finding the right individual to fill a specific job role within the organization.
Define and describe the role and expectations of what a recognition ambassador will fill. There are the ideal responsibilities of providing recognition resources and supplies; promoting various programs and campaigns in departments; distributing and explaining communications such as posters, information packets, tent cards, and stickers; helping both managers and employees with ideas, needs, and instruction; delivering short education presentations in staff meetings or upon request in lunch and learns; you name it and the list can continue. Describe what seems realistic for your organization.
Ask in management forum meetings or by the ubiquitous sending of emails and spell out the type of person you are looking for and solicit recommendations. If you have an employee newsletter, you can invite interested candidates to apply through an article and email placement. And don’t forget to promote looking for recognition ambassadors on the home page of your very own recognition website.
Expectations of Your Recognition Ambassadors
I think it will be important to tell your recognition ambassadors what you feel they will come away with from this experience. Of course, explain to each team member who recommended them and why they were selected. Consider the unique strengths and talents of each member of your ambassador team. Encourage them to be creative and brainstorm fresh ways of doing things for recognition.
Recognition ambassador teams should probably be only eight to ten people. They should be representative from across the organization and diverse departments to give unique input and perspective. Do you call the team recognition ambassadors or do they prefer a fun catchy name for themselves, instead?
Create regular meetings at whatever schedule make sense from their regular work duties and the volunteering for this exciting role. Some can manage monthly face-to-face meetings and other quarterly. For some, your meetings will be entirely virtual.
Education, Training, and Communication Needs
Think about developing a curriculum to train and educate your ambassadors. Teach them the differences between recognition and rewards, for example. Why recognition practices come before recognition programs. How to help each employee, no matter their title, to take the lead on owning responsibility for recognizing one another. Ways to access the recognition resources available on the organizational website. Or even to identify the many things that people need that do not already exist. They might even group together and plan time in to create the resources and communications people are asking for.
Ensure you have support for your recognition ambassadors from your Learning and Development and your Communications departments. Work with your Communications department to help develop the branded communication pieces and supports Ambassadors will distribute to managers and staff, and how to teach their proper use. Some tools will be for managers and others will be for frontline employees. They’ll be able to give great insights on what is appropriate for each group.
Information and Feedback
Develop a fast response system for recognition ambassadors to relay grassroots feedback and information from managers and employees back to a recognition manager and/or your recognition strategy committee, if you have one. Is there an online forum, chat or message service, or should they just email you? In return, send out weekly emails to them with updates and the latest resources available for them.
Let your ambassadors work with the recognition managers in setting, sharing, and tracking goals that the ambassador group wants to achieve. Always keep them informed of any changes that will affect their goals. Keep them updated on everything so they can be the voice that reinforces messages you send out. They should know first before you communicate out to the entire organization.
The recognition ambassadors should know how much you count on them and the value the organization places in them. Have a senior leader attend one of your recognition ambassador meetings to tell them what they have that the ambassadors are doing and to thank them.
Having a single set, or more, of recognition ambassadors, is an incredible way to divide and conquer your workload and spread the cause of recognition more effectively across the entire organization.
Consider what you could do if you have recognition ambassadors to work with.
Recognition Reflection: What benefits do you see from establishing recognition ambassadors in your organization?
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.