How Your Leaders Can Be More Involved With Recognition

As a member of Recognition Professional’s International (RPI) for over 15 years, I have been able to learn from, and share insights observed from clients about making recognition happen the right way, with other recognition professionals. 

One concern a lot of recognition program managers have is getting the personal commitment and support from their senior leaders.

That’s why I’ve always liked a five-step set of principles from one of RPI’s courses that I think will help you. 

Here are the five areas where you should plan to get your senior leadership team involved. Even if it is only your executive sponsor, or the leader you report to. 

First up is Strategy. Your senior leaders will be involved in one way of another with your recognition strategy creation. It has not been often that I have seen a senior leader involved in the complete facilitation of a written recognition strategy. However, I have seen the great work by recognition program managers get sent to their leader for input and ratification. Senior leaders don’t have time to develop recognition policies and procedures, but they will definitely read and review what you have drafted. They’ll give their suggestions and ideas for things you might not have thought of. Of course, run any goals and objectives by them you have set for each of your recognition programs for any final recommendations.  

This is what you can expect from your senior leaders, so send all strategy documentation to your leaders. 

Then comes Involvement. This one is a biggy. It’s the area where senior leaders struggle with the most. Yes, it’s nice when senior leaders verbalize or write about their support for all of your recognition programs. They might take the time in newsletters and at town hall meetings to communicate their backing of recognition. But what speaks volumes and gives credibility to senior level involvement is leaders personally using the recognition programs to recognize employees. They willingly make time to visit a team or department to thank them for outstanding work, even on the night shift. 

Share with them a usage report from the executive leadership team on how they use the various recognition programs. 

Get them investing in Resources. When you get senior leader support for recognition, they will advocate for an appropriate budget allocated to recognition and rewards. They will ensure your recognition programs have the right staffing supports. And they will ensure that you have the support of communications and learning and development to give you the messaging and education and training you need to make recognition happen. 

Provide periodic updates on the communication tools you have invested in and participation levels and learning results from education and training.

Next comes Accountability. Your leaders can set all the right expectations for leaders, managers, and employees to recognize one another. But if they don’t follow up with people, nothing will change. Recommend that senior leaders make recognition part of their performance management process. Suggest that recognition is always on their agendas when conducting their one-on-one sessions with managers. Your managers need to know that their file leader is going to hold them responsible for recognizing their staff. 

Request a report from the executive leadership team on the number of manager reviews conducted and a summary of their findings. 

Always be in Review. Work with your senior leaders and their executive assistants to schedule periodic reviews of your recognition strategy and objectives, and the status of each of your recognition programs. This can be monthly or quarterly, with a guarantee of at least semi-annually with an annual end-of-year review. Naturally, as you pass them in the halls or are in leadership meetings with them, you can give them “scroll bar” updates on pertinent recognition news. Your reviews should always provide the current analytics along with indications of the business impact and ROI of your recognition programs.         

Always provide leaders with summary reports at whatever interval they request on the progress and outcomes of your recognition programs.

I hope these ideas give you one or two things you can work on challenging your recognition champion from the senior leadership team. Of course, your goal is to get all five areas happening. But start small and work your way up.

Recognition Reflection: How involved do you think your leaders are with employee recognition in your organization?

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