How To Write the Best Recognition Strategy – Part 2

Creating a Recognition Purpose and Philosophy Statement­—Part 2 of 4

I’ve outlined the reasons why you should have a written recognition strategy for your organization. But where do you begin with creating one?

Organizations need a North Star to guide their recognition efforts. Which makes the first step in crafting a recognition strategy as creating a recognition purpose statement and accompanying philosophy statement.

Having a recognition purpose and philosophy statement unifies organizational leaders and those responsible for employee recognition practices and programs. It gets everyone nodding their heads in agreement with what they have outlined. Everyone is on the same page as to why you have recognition and what you believe about it.

So, let’s figure out how to create one.

Putting Your Recognition Strategy Team Together

The hardest part of creating a recognition strategy is rounding up the right people to participate. Over the years I have seen this take the longest time to both identify the right people and synchronize schedules to free up a full day meeting.

You, or someone else, must be a very good facilitator to make this whole process work.

Your goal is to get four table groups of people. Ideally you are looking for a minimum of 5 people per table and up to a maximum of 8 people per table, so between twenty and thirty-two people. A few organizations I have facilitated have gone to the max, and I have also seen a few that opted for 6 tables because they wanted all thirty-six people included. However, the principle at hand is to have an even number of table groups. This will become clearer shortly.

Who should be present?

Of course, you want your recognition team—recognition manager and program administrators—in attendance. If you have a strategic recognition team or committee than they should be there. Next, you want some senior leader representation, even if only for part of the time, and definitely to open things up and close the meeting.

After that, it is all about finding a cross representation of the right leaders and managers from across the organization who are supportive of recognition in the organization, and exemplary recognition givers. Only include one or two nay-sayers at most, if you must.

Doing Recognition On Purpose

Creating a recognition purpose and philosophy statement is like developing an organizational purpose statement. The assigned facilitator must now work the process and get each table group to wordsmith proposed ideas.

Essentially, you want everyone answering why recognition practices and programs should exist in their organization. Starting with the why and putting that answer down on paper will guide managers and employees alike to give better recognition more often.

A recognition strategy is the creation of a unique and valuable positioning for all of your recognition practices and recognition programming. It includes a different set of activities from people throughout the organizations, all of which must align with your organizational strategy and culture.

Educate participants on the importance, value, and benefits of recognition done well in case some are not aware. After all, a recognition purpose statement is beneficial for employees and ultimately benefits the customers because employees are engaged.

The facilitator will ask each table group to formulate their answer to several questions throughout the first half of the day.  Several key questions should be asked to draw out ideas from the groups such as:

  • Finding out in the eyes of each table group what they see as the purpose for giving recognition in your organization?
  • Why do they think everyone in your organization should give recognition to the employees they work with?
  • Why are you giving employees recognition from the point of view of your organization?

After capturing brainstormed bullet points from everyone in the separate table groups, a scribe for each team will capture these points on flip charts and try to create a single statement with the help of their table mates. It might start with the objective beginning with the word “to”. Or it might be declarative and start with “we will”. There are all kinds of possibilities.

Then you vote across all table groups as to which statement from all the table groups fits your organization the best. There may be tweaking and borrowing words from other groups until you have collective agreement.

Let me give you one organization’s example of a recognition purpose statement:

“We will ensure our employees feel valued for their contributions in the success of the company and in helping customers have genuine and positive experiences.”

Move On To Recognition Beliefs

It is important to hash out what everyone believes recognition is and how our values drive appreciating people and recognizing what they do. You’ll be amazed when you get a group of people from the same organization together as to how differently they believe about things.

Which is why you need to nail down the organizational beliefs about employee recognition. Making sure everyone understands and knows the difference between recognition and rewards, as just one example.

From an internal perspective the recognition philosophy focuses on how recognition creates strong people fulfillment for your employees. Taken from an external and philosophical focus, a recognition philosophy statement shows how recognition actually contributes to the business and/or societal needs.

So, the next part of the process is getting ever table group back together to generate a recognition philosophy statement. Again, get each member of every table group to voice their answers to the following questions. The same or different scribe will capture the first word thoughts from each person on flip chart paper.

Here are the questions you want them pondering and answering,

  • What do you think our current beliefs are about employee recognition?
  • If we are to improve and give better and more frequent recognition to people, what do you think our beliefs about recognition should be?
  • Why is employee recognition important to us? Or why should it be?
  • How will our recognition initiatives contribute to our business and to society?
  • What impact will recognition make on our organization if we all give real recognition the right way, wherever we work?

In continuing to craft the recognition philosophy statement, the facilitator suggests to each table group scribe to formulate a single phrase or sentence from the bullet point responses, just as was done with the purpose statement.

In our organizational example above this is what they generated for their recognition philosophy statement:

“We believe it is important to create a recognition culture of caring and respect aligned with a strong focus on our business strategy for customer success and corporate responsibility.”

What I have recommended for many years is that organizations lead off with the more difficult to generate belief or philosophy statement. Then you follow on with the purpose statement which is usually much easier to create.

This how it could look like:

“We believe it is important to create a recognition culture of caring and respect aligned with a strong focus on our business strategy for customer success and corporate responsibility. We will ensure our employees feel valued for their contributions in the success of the company and in helping customers have genuine and positive experiences.”

Such a statement is the North Star you need as a constant guide for your recognition practices and programs.

I can assure you that this whole process will take a half-day because it is a lot of “blood, sweat, and tears” to get everyone to collaborate and share their point of view on a subject they rarely talk about.

But what I can tell you is something fascinating happens from facilitating your recognition purpose and philosophy statements. I never know what the end product will look like when conducting these recognition strategy sessions. But each end product fits their organization perfectly. They are unique and specifically worded to guide the cause of recognition forward in their respective organization.

If you missed out on reading Part 1 of this series, you can catch up by reading it right here.

Next week: Part 3 – Developing a Recognition Plan for the Next Steps

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