Leaders often barrage their managers of recognition with criticism over a lack of participation and usage of their organization’s employee recognition programs.
Naturally, not all organizations have participation problems. Some are exemplary. They have fought hard for that position. It did not come about easily, nor did it happen overnight.
But never let those who do not understand the intricacies and gifts of what it takes to make recognition happen, believe that they are the “real” recognition givers and know exactly what it takes to get full participation with recognition programs.
Instead, remind them that first things must come first. Teach them how to give recognition one-on-one, whether in person, or by all the communication methods available to them
It is hard to teach everyone how to give meaningful and effective recognition to one another, no matter the size of the organization you work for.
That’s why you need to enlist an army of people to aid you.
Dictionary.com explains that the more helpers you have available to you then the task will be easier. The proverb “many hands make light work” was reportedly first recorded in English in the early 1300s in a knightly romance known as Sir Bevis of Hampton. However, John Heywood, a 16th century writer known for his plays, poems, and collection of proverbs, is most often attributed as the originator of this proverb.
What can you do to teach other to help you teach people in your organization how to give amazing recognition to one another?
Do your employees feel valued and appreciated for their work contributions? If not, is it because recognition is not top of mind for your leaders and managers? What if you could remind your leaders and managers to recognize more often? Are there ways that technology can help?
There is a way to nudge your leaders and managers into giving more frequent and better day-to-day recognition to their direct reports, and others. You can create triggers for your leaders and managers to give more meaningful and consistent recognition to people. This will guarantee affecting the overall employee experience and improve performance, too.
Recognition is such a positive thing to give and receive that you would think teaching people how to give recognition to others should be easy.
But different studies such as from Gallup show that only a third of employees ever receive recognition in any week for doing outstanding work.
People always submit lots of reasons as an explanation for this recognition deficit. However, one dominant answer is not knowing how to give recognition to people the right way.
Adam Grant, the award-winning researcher and Wharton School professor, gives a probable reason teaching people to give recognition is not as easy as we think it is. From his research and book, Give and Take, he shows that in our interactions with others most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers.
Takers work at getting as much as they can from others while matchers look to evenly trade between one another. It’s the givers who are the rare breed of people who contribute to others expecting nothing in return.
It would appear from this research that perhaps giving recognition is already easier for those who are natural givers than for those who are takers or matchers.
What can we learn from these givers that can help us teach all types of employees to more easily give recognition?
If you want to get everyone giving better and more effective recognition to people, you will probably have to educate and train them on how to do that the right way.
However, before you even start any education and training to teach recognition giving skills, there are a few things you should do beforehand to guarantee success. These preparatory steps will help you to get people ready to give better recognition.
Check out this list and put at least one step into practice this coming month.
People seem to want things smaller these days. We went from desktops to laptops. We moved from tablets to smartphones. Now we want smart wearables.
The same goes for education and learning. People moved from bite-size things you eat to bite-size things you view or read. We now apply this principle of “short and sweet,” to online learning and other resources for teaching people how to give meaningful and effective recognition.
This became clear to me when one of our clients wanted short and sweet content. Their communications team was engaged in providing managerial resources for learning and applying recognition practices and how to effectively use their online recognition programs.
I want to show you some short and sweet factors that were used to support this client’s initiatives along with some additional ideas.
Each of us has varying levels of confidence and proficiency with being able to recognize those you live with and especially those you work with.
For some, they had upbeat and positive parents, teachers, and coaches, who inspired them to grow and be successful. They regularly received words of encouragement, appropriate praise, and recognition for their accomplishments.
Others had life situations where they always needed to overcome negativity, received put downs at school, and a lack of sincere concern for the welfare of others. Even where they worked had toxic bosses and a lack of appreciation for their contributions.
No matter the route you took in life, or the role models you had in your life, they now expect you appropriately praise and recognize your employees.
But we all have different abilities and attitudes around giving meaningful and effective recognition.
When was the last time you reviewed your recognition and reward program data to see if there is any tendency toward hidden biases?
A hidden—or implicit—bias is defined as a preference for, or
against, a person, thing, or group, which is held at an unconscious level. This
means you and I don’t even know our minds are holding onto this bias. In
contrast, an overt—or explicit—bias is an attitude or prejudice which is very
much endorsed at a conscious level.
For example, what is the proportion of
recognition or reward recipients who are male versus female, with respect
to your employee gender ratio? Are rewards given more often to one gender over
another? Is there any general ratio between white and non-white employees? Do
disabled staff equally merit and receive recognition and rewards for exemplary
Perhaps we all need to ask these kinds of
question when identifying whether hidden biases exist in our recognition and
reward practices and programs.
If there are certain principles that
keep recognition and rewards open it is fairness and equity.