How to Write the Best Recognition Strategy – Part 4

Implementing the Recognition Plan for Successful Impact

Many consultants enter organizations prepared to tell the leaders where they are failing in the area of the consultant’s expertise.

The process I have taught you over our four-part treatise on How to Create a Recognition Strategy, headlined the need for you to identify your own recognition strengths and weaknesses before starting the strategy piece.

If you have followed along so far, you will know the importance of crafting a Recognition Purpose and Philosophy statements. Following your assessment of recognition practices and programs you have everything you need to design a complete Recognition Plan to elevate recognition practices and programs in your organization.

That is often where consultants exit the scene. You have a plan with goals set and tactical objectives to make things happen. But then they leave you. And often things sputter out or nothing happens at all.

If there is one thing, I think is essential with a recognition project like this, is to provide you with the tools to implement the plan. Let’s get it off the paper and into action. Focus on moving into the implementation phase.

Moving Towards Implementation

Your job is to take the Recognition Plan created by the strategy group and put it into action. Here are some ways to make this happen.

Stay focused on your one-year, short-term goal. For whatever time period you are starting with, whether it’s the calendar year or the beginning of the next quarter, keep yourself and others fixated on reaching that one-year goal. Think how you will get leaders and managers practicing recognition giving more often? What will it take to increase manager participation and usage of your online recognition programs? Suddenly you will have ideas for how people can take action that will move you closer to the one-year goal.

To keep yourself on track, review the recognition practices people have committed to and the usage of your programs on a monthly or quarterly basis. If you are alone doing this shoot for quarterly. But if you have at least one other person working with you then aim at monthly, and especially if you have a recognition committee you can draw on.

Even if is only one potential behavior or action to work on, make it happen. If people need to improve their abilities to give better employee recognition in one small way, then communicate it. When people are not using recognition programs well then educate them through some videos or on demand recorded webinars.

Narrow down to the vital few Focus Points to improve. You cannot pretend to fix everything that might be wrong. That is why in your Recognition Plan the strategy team identified only a few Focus Points to concentrate on improving. These are the vital few things they felt needed to be concentrated on. This is what the strategy team who created the plan recommends the organization work on that will lead towards your one-year goal.

If you are a small organization with limited staff for recognition and few people in the organization to help you, your only choice is to prioritize your four to six focus points and take on one at a time before moving on to the next one.

Larger organizations with more resources can draw upon staff from communications, marketing, learning and development, and other interested parties, to make up action teams. Action teams can be assigned to each Focus Point to work on the goals proposed by your strategy team.

Work diligently on the concrete action goals. Each Focus Point on your Recognition Plan already has some Implementation Objectives for you to work on. Your role now is to get these goals into action.

Whether prioritized by yourself if working alone, or by each action team, you now have to consider the next steps to take. What resources do you need to make these actions happen? What is one thing people could do to make recognition better?

Brainstorm everything you need to pursue to get this Focus Area’s Implementation Objective happening. The strategy team had some initial ideas they thought of. Now it’s time to validate these ideas or work with them in the current reality of things.

Gauge the success with concrete measures. Each Implementation Objective that was written up in your Recognition Plan has an accompanying Output measure. This allows you to monitor how you are doing in progressing towards your goal.

Working on your own you can see how well you are doing. If you have action teams these measures enable them to know where they are at any given point in time. It also helps them estimate the time and effort still needed to achieve the end goal.

These Output measures are a great tool to use with meeting with your manager or as a committee with all of your action teams.

Develop sprint action plans to move things along. Small incremental steps need to be taken for each Focus Point and its Implementation Objective. Each action team should create a 90-day action plan of what would take their Focus Point to the next level towards achieving the one-year goal. You can do the same thing if you are working on your own with the prioritized Focus Point.

Sprint action plans are where you break down the first 90-day action plan into two-week sprints of what micro-action or specific task you, or the action team, can work on. These bite-size chunked activities are much easier to plan into your regular work schedule. It will give you and others a feeling of accomplishment as to take these small steps.

If you do not have access to teams of people to help you, simply prioritize the focus areas in order of importance and then use the 90-day action plan concept. Request help from experts along the way to help you with knowledge and skills you don’t have.

Schedule in every action tasks. The key to success with successfully implementing your Recognition Plan is working on your recognition goals and implementation plans every single week. Set up your calendar with time slots to work on the tactics and actions required to complete each goal in your 90-day action plan. You can even schedule a bulk action time to work for a few hours to complete tasks. 

When you break things down into two-week sprints it seems more workable and realistic to achieve the whole goal you’re focusing on.

Set up reminder notifications to nudge you if you need to for scheduled action times. Use smartphone apps to remind you and show you your progress toward your goals. 

Keep yourself and others accountable. Hold yourself and others accountable for communicating progress regularly on each Focus Point’s goals. Plan in the times for giving progress updates on all the actionable goals. Have the leader of each implementation team email updates at the 30- and 60-day timeline. They would provide a one-page summary report at each 90-day intervals. This gives current status, progress to the goal, and proposes plans for the next quarter.

Work with your executive sponsor and manager on how they would prefer to receive progress reports. State the need for a face-to-face meeting at least every six months with quarterly being the best.

A wise leader said that when performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates. 

Keeping track on achieving all of the goals. Tracking your progress towards achieving all of the Focus Point goals is essential. One way to make this meaningful for everyone involved is to make your progress visible. You might consider program management tools, spreadsheets, or web-based/mobile applications like Trello and Asana. These online tools can help you to organize teams, track their progress, and manage their next steps. 

Your different teams can see where they are at and you get to see the big picture towards achieving the overall goal. You will soon see better recognition happening one-on-one and through using your recognition programs better and more effectively as you implement your Recognition Plan one day at a time.

If you missed the previous steps in this four part How To Write the Best Recognition Strategy series, then here are the links to those posts for you.

How To Write the Best Recognition Strategy – Part 1 – Why It’s Important To Have a Recognition Strategy

How To Write the Best Recognition Strategy – Part 2 – Creating a Recognition Purpose and Philosophy Statement

How To Write the Best Recognition Strategy – Part 3 – Develop Your Organization’s Recognition Plan of Action

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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