I am going to be upfront with you about your traditional online recognition programs. They won’t work for everyone.
For example, social recognition programs, sending ecards, and using typical performance reward programs, will not hit the mark with your high performers, senior leaders, your top salespeople, or other high-ranking professionals.
But there is something very interesting that I discovered about these elite people. They still like to be recognized. Just not the same way as everyone else.
I will share with you what I learned from talking with some of these professionals and high performers.
It became very clear to me that giving a professional point rewards, sending them an award nomination, or giving a $25.00 or $100.00 gift card, was not meaningful to them. They didn’t relate to this kind of recognition
That’s when I learned something very important. Your traditional recognition and reward programs are appreciated by the 80% majority of your employees. But they will not appeal to a private banker, the top pharmaceutical salesperson, or the executive vice president of finance.
However, there are still some tremendous ways to recognize them. And I am going to share two simple methods with you on how to recognize these high performing professionals.
Everyone Wants To Be Recognized In Some Way Or Another
Here’s the one secret you must always remember. All of these special, high performing professionals still like to be recognized. They just want to be recognized in a completely different way than everyone else.
It’s true. They don’t want the same kind of recognition as other employees.
And that is your solution to recognizing the crème de la crème within your organization.
The method I am recommending you use is called the “Pedestal and Prestige Effect.”
These particular leaders and top performers we are talking about, are where they are because they are the best. They are at the top of their game, in whatever profession, simply because they are an outstanding leader at what they do.
For the most part, and certainly this is a very stereotypical characteristic, a high performer’s favorite type of recognition is being seen above everyone else.
What can you do to make this experience happen for them?
That’s where the two-factor recognition equation comes in of the Pedestal and Prestige Effect.
Understanding the Pedestal Effect of Recognition
First, I want you to consider the Pedestal part of this two-factor equation.
How can you put a top performer on a Pedestal that means a lot to them?
Consider these three ways of raising the bar and highlighting a professional’s accomplishments:
1. Honoring Organizational “Leaders”. Use all the internal communication channels available to you to broadcast your top performer’s outstanding contributions. Call them up on your awards night with the CEO and have him or her acknowledge them. Have them sit at the same dinner table as the president of the organization. The key here is to elevate this professional in the eyes of all of their peers.
2. Highlight Exemplary Achievements. Often their great achievements are par for the course for top performers. Once a top performer, always a top performer. But many other aspiring employees would like to know how they got to where they are now. Find way to share their story. Write up and post online how this leader achieved their success and maintained their level of proficiency. The evolution of a professional is often unknown to others. Yet there are lessons they could share that many people could benefit from.
They are great at what they do for a reason. Discover their secrets and patterns of success, and with their personal permission, share these concepts with others using a variety of communication mediums.
3. Promote Accomplishments Externally Too. Make sure the national daily paper hears about your top performer’s achievements or simply pay for an ad recognizing them. Find out the professional associations that the top performers belong to. Nominate them for the right association award or at least send a press release of what they have accomplished. This news can be published in the association magazine or on their online news column. This is all about blowing the horn outside of their organization.
Utilizing the Prestige Effect of Recognition
Then there is the Prestige effect to this two-part formula for recognizing leaders and high performers. Ensure to use this element as well.
It is all about drawing upon their reputation and influence that comes from the success they’ve achieved.
How can you make their expertise have greater prominence within the organization?
Experiment with using these three strategies to create the Prestige Effect for your higher performing professionals.
1. Proving Through Stretch Opportunities. Give the individual a new and challenging work assignment to tackle. This could be achieving a difficult and hard to reach organization goal. Draw upon their vast knowledge and experience to generate innovative solutions. Tap into their creative and divergent thinking skills to go deeper on special projects.
2. Provide Positive Professional Relationships. Birds of a feather flock together. Look for ways to create opportunities for them to associate with other top performers and senior leaders within the organization. Don’t neglect the idea of funding memberships in leading professional associations and encouraging them to get involved in leadership positions in these organizations. Highlight these memberships when posting the individual’s biography.
3. Parking Spots to Business Cards. It’s amazing how prestigious perquisites can add the prestige you’re looking to give someone. You can do this by giving a name plated parking spot or specially designed business cards. It may surprise you that these can still be such a meaningful marker for top performers, but they are. Also, find out like you do for everyone else, what their personal likes, dislikes, and recognition preferences are. Use this knowledge to the maximum to recognize them even better.
Your leaders and top performers are at a completely different level than the average employee. This is especially so when it comes to achievements and recognition.
Which is why you must ensure that the type of recognition you provide them with is at a much higher level of appreciation as well. Draw upon the Pedestal and Prestige Effect to give the most appropriate recognition to your high performers and professionals.
Recognition Reflection: How do you demonstrate a higher level of recognition and acknowledgement of senior leaders and top performers?
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.