Start Giving Authentic Recognition From Day One

Expect new employees to be giving recognition to peers and others right from the get go with your onboarding and orientation sessions.

Most orientation and onboarding programs are manager initiated or online portal delivered sets of steps, policies and procedures, and general ground rules to function on the job.

Whether it is health and safety guidelines, learning the full benefits package, taking assigned online learning presentations, and signing off on required Human Resources documents, it can be a lot of information cramming and a check box mentality of task completion.

Don’t lose loyalty boosting and retention strategy opportunities on the first day employees start their new job. You have to engage employees right from the beginning and set clear expectations with them. All it takes is some careful planning and synchronizing with all of the company’s engagement initiatives – recognition giving, being just one of those components.

Too often recognition and rewards are presented to new employees as something only the employee receives. Our recommendation is to turn that attitude around and make recognition about what each new employee can give.

Here are four ways to take a different orientation on recognition giving:

1. What You Stand For

To create an organizational culture that includes recognition and appreciation allow your culture to drive recognition giving.

Instead of listing the corporate vision, mission and values statements in rote format by a PowerPoint® slide or handing out as a laminated card, have new employees hear live or through video captured content from staff telling stories demonstrating how other employees are living the values of their organization.

Often the values of an organization are hard to get one’s head around as to what they mean or how living them even looks like. By sharing examples from the lives of employees within the company it’s easier to know what to recognize when you see it.

Make sure your values lead people to action and giving recognition is just one of those positive actions that should come from them.

2. Better Tell Them What Recognition Means

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School professor, gave a succinct quote which helps to define recognition, when she said, “Compensation is a right; recognition is a gift.”

Too often we lump recognition and rewards together and employees don’t know the difference between the two.

Rewards are much more transactional in nature and follow an, “if-then” criteria, “if” you do this task under a certain timeline or set of criteria “then” you will receive this reward or incentive. Rewards are conditional upon task completion.

Recognition, on the other hand, is dependent on the relationship between the giver and receiver and truly is “a gift”. While often hoped for, recognition is not contingent to automatically occur. Recognition is about relationships.

Knowing what a company means by giving recognition is a great start to appreciating the wonderful things that go on behind the scenes at work.

3. Practicing Recognition Giving

In our attempt to orient completely, we may introduce employees to our wonderful “recognition” programs. Some programs provide opportunity to nominate peers for awards, which may have certain levels or currency of points associated with an award. Other programs are manager initiated for living corporate values or completing certain strategic initiatives aligned with the business goals. Notice the focus is more on what the employee can receive.

You can change the focus and place it on giving recognition and having new employees practice the fine art of expressing appreciation to someone who helped them during their first few days on the job. Whether through social recognition platforms, existing in-house recognition programs, or simply the least often used, handwritten Thank You Card, have employees learn to give meaningful recognition.

Doug Conant, former CEO from Campbell’s Soup Company, made time at the end of each day to take half-an-hour to write at least ten notes of appreciation to employees for their contributions which he had observed or been informed about.

Build time in to your onboarding to have employees access your recognition portal or give them a Thank You card and send words of appreciation to others and truly instill a recognition giving mindset.

4. Demonstrate Authentic or “Real” Recognition

Instilling authentic or “Real Recognition” starts right from the top.

A Wirthlin Wordlwide survey of CEO’s and Vice Presidents of Human Resources found 89 percent of respondents said “senior leader participation” was the leading factor for success of any recognition program.

While many hiring managers now conduct onboarding sessions don’t lose out on the chance for new employees to connect with senior leaders in a small, informal and intimate forum. Ensure each leader doesn’t just make a presentation but has the opportunity to be introduced to new employees and can chat with them and learn of their aspirations and goals with the company.

Real Recognition™ is about appreciating people for who they are and recognizing them for what they do.

Imagine if those senior leaders following the onboarding sessions make time to send a very personalized note to the employees they met and made reference to their conversation together and inviting them to reach out to the leader any time they had an idea to suggest or a question to ask.

Recognition is a felt phenomenon and must be experienced in order to become a way of life in our organizations. Why not start off on the right foot and make recognition giving an expectation on day one of your onboarding.

Question: How do you orient new employees to giving recognition?

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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