How To Lead Employee Recognition Into The Future

You and your organization’s leaders must shape the future of your recognition programs and practices by learning how to anticipate the future instead of always reacting to it.

By thinking ahead futuristically you can plan to take steps that change your recognition programs to become the very best.

Here’s what you and your leaders must do to create better recognition for the future.

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Make Sure You Thank Someone This Month

It’s January and welcome to National Thank You month.

While etiquette professionals and books promote the idea of sending out Thank You Notes, don’t neglect the behavior of saying thank you too.

They have designated January as National Thank You Month. This might have originated from the greeting card industry because of receiving gifts following the Christmas holidays and they want you to buy their printed cards. I know my wife and I dutifully sat down on the last Sunday in December and wrote our Thank You notes to our children. It is a lovely reflective time to treasure and remember what we have received.

Learn to make saying or expressing thanks to those around you more a way of life beyond this designated month.

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Top 10 Recognition Posts for 2019

Here we are with another New Year and I want to share with you the Top 10 Posts for 2019.

I will reflect along with you on why perhaps you and many other readers read these more than other posts that didn’t quite make the top rankings.

In tenth position was the post How to Help a Leader Who’s Not a Good Recognizer. Obviously, this leadership focused article resonated with many of you who need some ideas and help with coaching the challenged leader to become a better recognizer of peers and staff. 

Leaders are not always in their position for their people skills—although they certainly help—and for that reason they often have more left-brain, executive functioning and logical skills. Some, not all, need a helping hand to get the people skills down and realize how important recognition is to the people that work for them.

The topic in ninth position is How to Increase the Impact of Your Formal Award Programs, which I know many of you want desperately to improve and stand out. There are some basic steps you can follow, and I hope you can make them come alive in 2020.

Most organizations have some formal award programs going on. But few organizations set objectives for what they want to achieve from conducting nomination submissions and planning awards events.

I didn’t expect this post to rank as high as it did. It seems many of you wanted to learn how they select Oscar awards winners so How Oscar Awards Nominations Are Selected came in at number eight. Recognition professionals are always looking to benchmark against best practices, so I hope you gain some insights from this post.

The Oscars always share the public limelight on what people think an awards ceremony should look like. Understanding how the award winners are selected might help you raise or lower your own expectations on how you should determine your award recipients.

In seventh position we have a leadership focus again and this time it’s on feedback. What Makes Giving Feedback So Difficult for Leaders? provides you with some perspective and actions you can take to assist those having difficulty with this area.

I think we’re hitting on soft skills here and how they are not as easy as they seem. Giving meaningful feedback is something all of us can become better at.

For those of you who haven’t created a written recognition strategy document yet, our sixth ranked post of A Quick and Easy Recognition Strategy to Get You Going should help you out. It is better to have a basic document in place to guide you along than not having a strategy at all.

Make sure you become more intentional and strategic with your recognition practices and programs. This post’s ranking probably reflects the need for an easy way to write up a recognition strategy.

It seems some of us need pointers on overcoming our discomfort with giving recognition. In fact, our fifth post on Why Are We So Uncomfortable Giving Recognition to People? gives great reminders for why some of us find recognition giving an awkward experience.

The reality of this post’s ranking is the human tendency that expressing emotions and validating the great things people around us do is more difficult than we think.

There are probably many organizations that would enjoy our fourth ranked post on How to Get Employees to Use Your Recognition Programs. It takes constant effort to communicate, educate, and exemplify great program usage to have employees follow in our footsteps.

The whole preparation and planning required to make recognition programs successful is not something a lot of organizations do well. Everyone wants to get more employees using their programs more frequently.

I am so glad my post on Why Being Specific Increases the Value of Recognition made it to third place. It validates for me that many of you see the importance and need for recognition specificity. Put this into practice and teach others to do the same and recognition will go a long way to becoming improved.

Recognition specificity is one of my favorite topics around recognition giving. Intuitively, many of you know it is important but just want to know how to do it better.

Second on the ranking list was the post on What Your Leaders Can Do to Lead Recognition. It tires many of you to fight the recognition battles alone. You need leaders to step up to the plate and make a strategic pitch for the cause of employee recognition.

A bit of a surprise for me was seeing this post in number two position. But it paints a picture that we desperately need leadership around employee recognition.

And the top-ranked post for 2019 was… How To Improve Recognition With A Great Learning Curriculum. This shows the need from many of you to have ongoing learning and development on recognition practices and using programs properly.

Be constantly learning the essential recognition skills and behaviors to give meaningful recognition. Understand the importance of your recognition programs and humanize your interaction with the programs to better connect with and value your employees.

Happy New Year to everyone. Become a better real recognition giver this year.

Recognition Reflection: What insights can you gain from the usage of your recognition programs over the past year?

Who Is The Hardest Person To Recognize?

Some of us have a hard time recognizing those around us and especially people we associate with at work.

Historically, people have viewed recognition as a top-down behavior where managers and leaders started recognizing employees who reported to them. This likely originated from the military where senior officers presented medals as awards for specific service or achievement in military campaigns. 

With the reduced hierarchy in organizations leading to a reduction in middle managers along with online recognition programs accessible by all employees, they have emancipated the source of who gives recognition.

Recognition is no longer constrained by a person’s position or title and should be multi-directional. 

But there can still be a bias or perception of who should give recognition. So besides considering who should give recognition, what about in the other direction? This raises the question whether some people at different levels of position are harder to recognize that others are.

Who Is the hardest person to recognize?

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How To Create a One-Page Recognition Strategy

A recognition strategy is a written document that outlines the purpose, direction, goals, and plans, for you and your organizational leaders to commit to doing, and make recognition giving a way of life and not just a program.

However, according to the latest WorldatWork 2019 Trends in Employee Recognition Survey, only 49 percent of the surveyed organizations have a written recognition strategy.

For that reason, I am helping you with how to create a written one-page recognition strategy to ensure you have something rather than nothing.

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What Employees Think of Recognition From Their Leaders

You and I know that there are many employees who are not getting recognized enough. 

To give people the right recognition, it would also be helpful to know the best person to make this happen. Who do your employees prefer most to be recognized by? Is it by your leaders, by their immediate supervisor or manager, or by their peers?

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Why Do Companies Not Have a Recognition Strategy?

If you haven’t already heard, there are fewer companies today than 2 years ago that have a written recognition strategy. Wow! That’s a shame.

According to the latest WorldatWork 2019 Trends in Employee Recognition, only 49 percent of the organizations they surveyed have a written recognition strategy. Fortunately, for the nearly half of these organizations with a recognition strategy, 97 percent are aligned with their organization’s business strategy.

The surprising thing was seeing how the percentage of organizations with a recognition strategy declined from 55 percent in 2017 to 49 percent in 2019. I really thought more organizations would commit to writing one. But, alas, I was wrong.

Why would organizations not have a recognition strategy? Let’s examine some possible reasons why this occurs.

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How To Develop Emerging Recognition Leaders in Your Organization

A few years ago, some managers at a particular company reached out to a Rideau colleague of mine and me to have a telephone meeting with them. These were young leaders in the making and were part of this company’s emerging leaders’ program. They wanted to learn more about employee recognition and specifically about our recognition programs at Rideau.

Later, we were invited to attend an on-site meeting at the company head office. There we connected with these managers and their peers from across North America, both face-to-face and virtually.

While they were from various departments and held a variety of positions within the company, it was fascinating seeing the light go on for them, and their asking thought-provoking questions about employee recognition.

Their emerging leader program project required them to seek insights on best practices, creating a recognition strategy, and what programs would work best for their managers and employees.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every organization desired to develop their managers through an emerging recognition leaders’ program?

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Why You Need To Know Your Leader’s Perception of Recognition

Talking to employees versus talking to your leaders can yield a completely different viewpoint about what everyone thinks about employee recognition.

When Leigh Branham was researching for his book, The 7 Hidden Reasons Employee Leave, he learned that 89 percent of bosses believed their employees quit their jobs because they wanted more money. But when they talked to employees, only 12 percent of them stated they would leave an organization for more money.

Now, what about recognition? How do your senior leaders perceive employee recognition? The answer to this question determines the success or challenges you face with managing employee recognition initiatives in your organization.

That is why if you don’t know your leader’s perception about employee recognition you had better find out soon.

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Top 10 Ways to Create Thanksgiving at Work

As far as work and Thanksgiving is concerned, everyone will be more excited to leave work to be with family and friends than be thankful for work. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be more grateful for the jobs and careers we have. Our challenge is knowing what we each can do to create a more Thanksgiving attitude at work. Check out these Top 10 ideas to shed some light on this idea.

1. Create meaningful work opportunities. In a recent American Management Association (AMA) survey they asked what people are thankful for at work and the highest ranked item is “the professional satisfaction it provides me.” Check in regularly with employees to learn what could make their work more energizing.

2. Encourage positive work relationships. Next on the AMA list was, understandably, one’s coworkers. Often we stop people from communicating and forming friendships at work. Even the Gallup Q12 measures having a best friend at work. Orchestrate opportunities to have fun, break bread, exercise, play and celebrate together.

3. Make sure each “Boss” is a good one. Never take this for granted because a great boss appreciates and values employees. A bad boss can kill them. Working for an uncivil, toxic boss increases the risk of a heart attack by 17% and increases the likelihood of a stroke by 33%. Stop bad boss behavior immediately.

4. Gratitude is even good for you. Well-deserved thanks and expressions of appreciation make an impact on people’s health. The Institute of Heart Math found Individuals who received appreciation and gratitude had greater harmony in their heart rhythms. Don’t think they are just doing their jobs – THANK THEM!

5. Cut out saying negative things to people – period. In high performing teams researchers found the ratio of positive to negative statements directed from manager to team members was 5.6 to 1.These managers gave 5 times more positive statements than negative. Watch your mouth and be more positive!

6. Develop relationships versus “engaging” employees. When we get romantically involved with someone we build a relationship first before popping the engagement question. Same thing at work – focus on the relationships between people. Look at building a person up and connecting with them.

7. Use emails and social media to be social. We are becoming a cryptic, impersonal society in how we communicate in any form of written text. Use the polite social graces of writing “please” and “Thank you so much! I am really grateful.” Not only will you make people feel good they will more likely help you.

8. When you have a good boss, thank them. Here’s an interesting thought from the John Templeton Foundation Study on Gratitude. They found 74% of people never or rarely express gratitude to their boss.  Yet they want their boss to express gratitude to them. Start emulating the actions you want given to you.

9. Never give a gift or an award alone. No matter what tangible form of appreciation you might give someone, always add a card or note to share your feelings and thoughts for the person. Specifically acknowledge the employee for what they have done and share your heartfelt appreciation for their contributions.

10. Start things right with giving thanks. Begin each day with sending out an email of gratitude to someone who has made a difference to you. Put praise and acknowledgments at the beginning of each meeting agenda and have people share the great things happening. If you start right, you will end right.