Insights on the Making of a Great Recognition Strategy and Plan

Having facilitated many recognition strategies and plans for organizations around the world, I have gained a lot of insight into what makes them work well. 

I will share with you four things that must be in place to be successful in creating a written recognition strategy and plan. While many other factors may be needed for you, when these foundational steps are in place, everything works out wonderfully. And when they are not, it is like pulling teeth to get a recognition strategy done right.

Let’s begin.

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The Top 5 Essentials For Giving Effective Recognition

One of my most exciting accomplishments has been working with Dr. Charles Scherbaum from Baruch College, SUNY. Together, we examined the various behaviors and attitudes associated with giving meaningful and effective recognition. Then we conducted the content validity research for our Recognition Skills Assessment® and we found out some very interesting results.

We enlisted recognition subject matter experts to score the level of importance for each behavior and attitude on a Likert scale. They did the same action for scoring the level of impact they felt these behaviors and attitudes had on people and performance. 

The outcome of our studies showed very different perspectives for giving effective recognition than I had imagined. From what we learned, I can give you the top five essential actions and attitudes needed for giving effective recognition.

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How To Prevent The Downfall of a Formal Recognition Program

Like the fall of the Galactic Empire in the Star Wars saga, sometimes you have to bring your formal award and recognition programs back to the light side. When any of your formal award programs fall apart, you need to step in quickly and turn things right around. 

Following are a few ways to consider with preventing the downfall of your formal recognition programs. 

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Are Your Comments More Valuable Than Your Likes?

Many social recognition programs available from vendors operate very similar to Meta/Facebook. You have a social newsfeed where you can add status updates. And you can send themed specific ecards or social badges to celebrate achievements, thank people for their help, reward performance goals reached, and acknowledge colleagues’ birthdays and milestone celebrations. 

And there is something else that each of us can do. As we go on to our recognition and reward programs, there is the special opportunity to like the various recognition messages sent and to even add our personal comments.

Does liking and commenting make a difference to people? Is one better than the other? 

Let’s explore some research and see if we can extrapolate anything that we can apply in our social recognition programs. 

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How Well Are You Aligned With Your Leaders About Recognition?

If there is one major thing that will help propel recognition forward, it’s having your senior leaders aligned with your recognition strategy.

As a manager and leader of recognition in your organization, your role is to help get your executive sponsor to agree to your recognition strategy and plans, and then assist you with how best to execute it.

These are some thoughts and practical steps you can take to get your recognition champion aligned on recognition. 

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How To Make Implementing Your Recognition Plan Easy To Do

In my earlier life as a speech-language pathologist, I vividly recall an external consultant coming into the hospital I worked at analyzing our organizational challenges. We brainstormed and followed his facilitated methods to let some potential plans and goals unfold.

And so, our creative content on the flip chart sheets was all typed up and distributed to the attendees. That’s where they sat, so it seemed, for many months. I told our hospital’s CEO that there was a problem with this consultant’s work. They set nothing up for implementing the plans.

I recently finished helping a client’s organization team in drafting a recognition plan to address their gaps with recognition practices and recognition programs. I nicely printed everything up in a flow chart looking model.

I will not leave them alone with this document. I have prescribed a method for how to implement their recognition plan so they will achieve success.

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Why The Frequency of Different Types of Recognition Really Matters

Understanding the frequency with which different types of recognition typically occur will help guide your usage of recognition programs and planning to make other forms of recognition happen. These are the elements that you must teach others, too. Then they will use your recognition programs wisely and practice recognition giving more often. 

This is important to remember because each person at work has different expectations of how often they think other people should recognize them. So, there is also a frequency preference to contend with for every employee.

Let me give you an example from a healthcare organization that I surveyed to look at the frequency of recognition and how their employees felt about it.

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Why Getting A Recognition Award from Your Peers Is Pretty Special

Last week, my colleagues at the IMA Summit Awards Event in Snowbird, Utah, honored me by giving me the Recognition Professionals International’s 2022 Harkins Education Award. 

The RPI Board of Directors gives this award to recognize members who have provided leadership and commitment to RPI’s education initiatives. The Board Executive Committee nominated and approved this behind my back, as I sit on the board as a director.

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Recognition Preferences Are Never Static So Be Sure To Check In First

I sat in an employee recognition session at the IMA Summit last week at the Snowbird, Utah resort. A participant I know shared their experience with the group that opened my eyes to a very important point of view.

You can sit down with each of your employees and ask them questions about their recognition preferences. Your online recognition and reward programs may automate the entry of recognition choices and how they prefer to be recognized. You can do this with onboarding or any time during their career.

However, what this individual raised was a critical point. Employees’ recognition preferences are not static. 

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Make Sure People Know The Recognition and Reward Options In Your Programs

Clearly inform leaders, managers, and employees of each program offering in your recognition and reward platform.

Unfortunately, not everyone uses all of your recognition programs well. Communicate and educate about program options and their benefits continually.

Sometimes, there’s a mindset that rewards are recognition. When this happens, people give rewards out too freely when expressions of recognition are better suited. And the inverse is also true. If an employee truly excels and goes above and beyond and merits a reward, they end up receiving recognition instead and might feel deflated and unvalued.

When you are dealing with online recognition and reward programs, you must inform everyone what they have available to them.

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