Recognition Programs Aren’t A Problem…People Are!

If recognition isn’t happening very well at your organization and you have some recognition programs already in place, don’t blame the recognition programs right away.

Recognition programs are tools to help people give more frequent recognition to others in an easy way.

But often participation levels with recognition programs are low and the lack of usage makes recognition programs look like a white elephant. This becomes a negative when senior leaders start asking for return on investment figures and budget projections are just around the corner.

More often than not it is not the recognition programs that are a problem. We need to make sure the people who are using the programs know how to drive them.

What can you do to get the most our of your recognition programs?

Here are 10 things to consider with elevating the effectiveness of your recognition programs.

  1. Set Clear Expectations: Just because you have installed recognition programs in the company does not mean people will automatically use them. You must establish clear expectations for leaders to use the programs and most importantly you had better answer the “why” that is on everybody’s mind.
  1. Program Marketing Plan: Like any new initiative in an organization you have to win people over. This requires a clear marketing, branding and awareness building campaign. You will have to sell the benefits of the programs to givers and recipients of recognition and rewards. Remember WIIFM.
  1. Orient People to the Programs: You have your regular work and responsibilities to do and now they want you to use the new recognition programs. You must plan program orientations into your regular meetings so as many people as possible have hands on practice and learning without disrupting everyday job duties.
  1. Training on Giving Recognition: Recognition program usage will never be done well if people don’t know how to practice giving meaningful recognition personally to people. Get your organizational development folks to teach effective recognition principles and provide interpersonal skills training and tips for giving authentic recognition.
  1. Communication Increases Awareness: With using the recognition programs, you need a communication strategy to keep them top of mind. Use branded posters and messages on your Intranet site, newsletters and email updates, tent cards in the cafeteria, on bulletin boards, all to help reinforce the importance of recognition giving.
  1. Measure Your Results: When performance is measured you have a performance baseline that can be improved upon. Drilling down to departments, and ideally by managers, you can see recognition giving by the numbers with your programs and start interpreting what they actually mean.
  1. Provide Usage Feedback: Allow managers and employees access to the data reports to see how recognition and rewards are being given. Look for what reasons recognition was being given, how frequently it is being given, and whether principles of fairness and equity are used.
  1. Solicit Personal Feedback: If you cannot find out the effectiveness of the recognition being given online through short surveys to employees, ask your employees directly. Also find out from managers and supervisors what help they need with being better users of existing recognition programs or changes that might be needed.
  1. Provide Program Impact: Your programs can go beyond just providing data output and usage reports. Start linking the recognition to your business goals and strategic initiatives and begin to analyze and correlate successful results with effective recognition program usage.
  1. Acknowledge Effective Users: By analyzing your recognition program data you will see that those managers who effectively use your recognition programs become shining stars on exceeding performance expectations. You need to acknowledge these leaders for using the programs the right way in a respectful way.

Always keep in mind that people use programs and programs of themselves can do nothing.

Question: What have you done to help your recognition programs be successful?

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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