Employee recognition is everyone’s responsibility, no doubt about it.
But there is something about having the personal support and endorsement of your senior leaders that propels recognition to a whole new level.
The 2015 WorldatWork Trends in Employee Recognition Survey showed only 34% of managers felt they had a high level of support from their senior management team for employee recognition programs.
Your goal should always be to get a senior leader’s commitment to making employee recognition practices and use of recognition programs a high priority as part of your company’s people strategy.
You can then prove to them how recognition can help them achieve the business goals you all want to see reached.
Don’t ever underestimate the value of an executive endorsement for employee recognition.
Value of Senior Leader Endorsement
First, off you need to know, or find out, where your senior leaders stand with their perspective on employee recognition.
A study by Bersin & Associates found nearly 80 percent of senior leaders believe employees are recognized at least on a monthly basis. And from these same leaders 43 percent thought employees were recognized weekly or more often.
However, the reality was only 40 percent of managers and only 22 percent of individual contributors reported their peers are recognized monthly or more often.
To get your leader’s endorsement you may need to build awareness with them first on how recognition reinforces productive behaviors and builds morale and positive engagement.
It may require feeding them regular content on the facts and figures on the business case for recognition practices and programs.
They may even need a little coaching and education on how they can become more exemplary in their recognition giving.
Boomerang Effect on Leader
The wonderful thing about giving people recognition is the giver often receives positive feedback for doing so.
Not only is their immediate reinforcement for recognition given but also leaders receive the boomerang effect of favourable feedback and reputation across the organization over the long term.
Recognition given well with authenticity should be an important influencer for leaders to make it a priority.
Elevates the Profile of Recognition
When senior leaders become positive role models to emulate with praising and appreciating employees it tends to make recognition giving seen as the right thing to do.
Remember, when asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of employee respondents replied “give recognition.”
The best way to teach managers and employees how to give recognition better and more frequently is to have a C-suite member lead the way with their recognition actions.
Executives need to take their position very seriously as being an ambassador of appreciation.
Encourages Their Direct Reports
Few employees work in close proximity to senior leaders to receive the direct benefit of great recognition from them.
However, their immediate direct reports, the leaders over divisions and departments, do connect with senior executives quite frequently.
Senior leaders needs to set expectations as a standard for how recognition is to be done around the company.
They can coach their leaders in one-on-one meetings and when they have online or face-to-face leadership meetings.
Having the senior leader acknowledge the contributions of one of the leaders at each leadership meeting demonstrates what the leader observes and values.
This creates a potential ripple effect down and across the entire organization.
Builds Excellent Employee Loyalty
According to a Quantum Workplace 2014 Recognition Trends Report, engaged employees ranked praise from senior leaders as being in their top 5 preferred forms of recognition.
Sir Richard Branson in his book, The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership, said, “A simple ‘thank you’ when coming from a senior person can go a long way, particularly if they have made a trip to the employee’s desk to express it. And if there is an opportunity to extend the thank you into something a little more meaningful then that will make an even more lasting impression.”
I know of many employee stories across multiple organizations where a senior leaders has made the time to go out of their way with a visit, made a personal phone call, hand wrote a note card, or sent a meaningful email to convey their appreciation to an employee.
The impact is you hear of these stories for years. They become the folklore of the company. The leader is admired and respected. People simply give better recognition because of it.
Positive things always happen when leaders from the top lead the way with recognition giving.
Value a senior leader who “gets it” very highly!
Question: How have you managed to get senior leader endorsement for employee recognition initiatives?
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.