How To Tie Recognition to Your Organizational Values

You must always remember one principle of recognition, and that is your organizational culture will drive recognition practices and recognition programs throughout your organization.

In like manner, it is the organization’s customary recognition practices and exemplary usage of your recognition programs that will drive your organizational culture.

No wonder so many organizations gear up their recognition programs to focus on recognizing people who live their values.

Look at the various ways in which you can tie recognition practices and programs to your organizational values.

Know and Understand Your Values First

Go out to the office corridors, on the plant floor of your organization, or the cafeteria at lunchtime, and stop 10 employees and ask them to tell you their organization’s values.

This is an amazing litmus test to see how well your employees know and understand your values. 

Many organizations have several single words that list the values they stand by. Others use these single words accompanied by a short phrase defining what the organizational expectations are for living that value.

Do you know your organization’s values? How do your employees stack up?

Organizations, where employees know their values when stopped and asked, are more likely to be living them in their day-to-day lives.

Your first task before tying recognition to your values is to see if your values are known and still fit the overall direction and needs of the organization. I have had to facilitate a few redrafting sessions to generate new values and meanings. Your values must support and drive your overall people and business strategy. They inherently come from your organization’s history yet propel your people and business into the future.

Once you have established your values, you must audit how everyone is doing in living them. Are there behaviors you need to stop doing to be true to your values? Are there things you must start doing to exemplify your values? What activities must you continue doing?

You may need to develop an action team to help implement the outcomes from stop, start, and continue analysis. One organization I worked with on values created employee teams for each of their values to monitor, generate fun activities, and keep their assigned value alive and well.

Your employees must know your values, understand them, and live them well before you can integrate recognition into the picture.

Ensure Everyday Recognition of Your Values 

Values that are upfront and centre, are meaningful and give purpose, are far easier to recognize.

People tend to join organizations where their own values align with the organizational values. It helps them know what leaders and peers believe and how they would handle different situations.

Values are identified by the behaviors and actions you show every day, this is the very seed of recognition moments.

I often refer to the time I visited one healthcare organization. One of their values and strategic initiatives was safety. This was so much a part of their culture that when the Vice President of Human Resources walked through the hospital lobby and saw spilt coffee on the floor, he immediately went into safe practice mindset. First, he looked around for one of those wet floor tent signs to put over the spill. He then called environmental services to have someone come down to mop things up.

This VP merited recognition for living their safety value.

Likewise, you can share a story of an employee who showed living a value in your pre-shift meeting. Perhaps you can acknowledge a peer on your social recognition platform by sending one of the ecards associated with each value and leave a positive account of their actions.

Consider Nominating Exemplary Values Living

Most of your employees are living the values of your organization every day in small and consistent ways. You might make time to acknowledge different people in your daily work activities.

However, there are some employees who will shine because they exceed the expectations in living a value.

For example, at the London Health Sciences Centre where most of our children had experiences at growing up, has the value of Compassion. They define compassion as “engaging others with kindness, sensitivity, and respect.”

They have several behavioral statements to further understand this value, like “listening carefully to the needs of our patients and families so I am kind and welcoming in every interaction and that I deliver care in a manner that reflects their goals and needs.”

When our youngest son sustained a severe brain injury following a motor vehicle accident and was in the Intensive Care Unit of one of their hospitals, our oldest son was very angry at why this had happened to his younger brother. A caring social worker took my request to meet with our son. She redirected his anger and gave him the idea and help to start an online Caring Bridge journal to give all his brother’s family and friends,updates on his brother’s condition and progress.

For me this exemplified and exceeded my expectation of what compassion could look like. You can understand that I wrote a note of appreciation for this social worker.

Is it any wonder that our oldest son is now a social worker in the healthcare system?

You could make values one of your informal recognition programs. I mentioned earlier having ecards to acknowledge anyone you see showing how they live the values. Enlist your internal resources, or that of your recognition vendor, to design such cards.

Managers can also have a separate program where they can nominate an employee or team who went above and beyond in their actions consistent with a value. An award committee can adjudicate these nominations and winners can you can publicize winners in newsletters, LCD screens, on the organization’s intranet site, all on a monthly or quarterly basis and receive points or a level-based reward.

Weave in Values Even Into Your Formal Awards

Some organizations have even created formal award programs where managers and employees can nominate an individual or team for a formal award associated with one of the organization’s values. 

These awards have a higher standard and set of criteria than a monthly or quarterly award. There would be greater expectation for consistency and demonstration of all values, even though nominated for one value award.

You would have several endorsers instead of just one observer and more detailed statements showing how the individual or team show their living of the value.

Many award programs give a symbolic award to winning recipients that represent each value in some design fashion. Other organizations give certificates which may be framed. Organizational leaders can present these awards in a formal presentation that is public or in person, depending on the recognition preferences of the recipient.

Imagine the impact that recognizing your organizational values could have on the lives of your employees.

Assess the health of your organizational values today and integrate recognition practices and programs to reinforce the living of your values.

Recognition Reflection: What types of recognition practices and programs do you have aligned with your organizational values?

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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