How To Hold People Accountable for Giving Better Recognition

Holding people accountable for giving effective and meaningful recognition brings together something good—recognition—with something uncomfortable, like, accountability.

It takes courage to deal with the conflict of holding people accountable. And courage is exactly what good management requires.

Follow these accountability steps to move the dial on recognition giving.

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How To Make Your Recognition Education Short and Sweet

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.

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What About Levels of Skill In Giving Recognition?

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.

What can we do?

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7 Ways to Help Supervisors Give Better Recognition, Too

Your supervisors have more influence on your operational success and on employee engagement than any other group of people in your organization.

They are the first-level initiators for implementing strategic goals, even if they don’t have all the authority to make everything happen.

But one thing is for sure, supervisors interact with your employees every single day. They have the greatest opportunity to observe and recognize the amazing things employees do.

And that’s why you need to make sure supervisors know how to recognize staff well.

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Beware of the Hidden Biases Around Employee 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 work?

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.

How well is your organization doing in this area?

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Top 10 Ways to Get Managers Giving Recognition

If there is one concern that most organizations have, and that is getting their managers to regularly and consistently recognize their employees. Developing the mindset of the importance of appreciating and recognizing staff for their positive behaviors and personal effort, requires several steps to make this happen. Start using this month’s Top 10 Ways to Get Managers Giving Recognition to guide you on what to do next. 

1. Set clear expectations from senior leadership team for managers to become better at appreciating people for who they are and recognizing them for what they do. Have leaders set the pattern and personal example for recognizing staff contributions.

2. Show managers the truth about the impact their giving or lack of recognition has on people. Capture video testimonials from employees and open-ended survey results that show the positive and negative feelings people have about recognition.

3. Provide managers with insight on their department’s employee engagement survey scores and drill down on how the recognition specific questions scored for them. Any score below 65 percent is a sign that everyday recognition is missing in action.

4. Debunk the myth they don’t have time to give recognition. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and giving good quality recognition takes less than 30-seconds to do. Suggest managers at a minimum start and end their day with recognition giving.

5. Hold regular one-on-one feedback meetings with managers to find out how they feel they’re doing with recognizing staff. Get their input on challenges, frustrations, or problems they have with giving recognition and coach them to succeed.

6. Provide managers with all the resources they need to gain knowledge and insights on how to give better and more meaningful recognition to people. Be this through written articles or an archive of video tutorial content that is broadcast out to them.

7. Give managers in-class and online education opportunities to show them how to give effective recognition to people. You can also do this through lunch and learn sessions, management briefing sessions, or delivering webinars by other managers.

8. Don’t forget to set goals with managers on how they intend to improve the frequency and quality of the recognition they give people. Remember to stay on top of their commitments and hold managers accountable for recognizing staff.

9. Use positive reinforcement and recognize managers when they stop to recognize their employees. Making time to recognize the recognizers is something that often gets neglected in our desire to see more recognition happen from management.

10. Invite managers to share in management meetings about the successes they have experienced when they stopped and made time to recognize their employees. Let their peers know of the intrinsic reward that their recognition had in lifting people up.

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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This Is What Awesome Recognition Looks Like

Some people seem to be just a natural when they are out and about in the company as far as appreciating people for who they are and recognizing the wonderful contributions made by employees.

There will always be others who have a much harder time in recognizing others. For whatever reasons, such as not being recognized as a child, perhaps more introverted, or plain uncomfortable with knowing what to say or do, recognition doesn’t happen.

But the great news is that giving awesome recognition to people is a skill anyone can learn.

When you know what something hard to do looks like, such as a new skill you have to learn, observe those people that do it well. Then all you have to do is reverse engineer how they do the task or skill and then you can replicate this ideal performance and do it yourself.

What does awesome recognition look like? How can you learn to master this art and science of giving meaningful and effective recognition?

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New Ways To Learn How To Give Recognition

Instructor led training (ILT) has always been the mainstay for helping people to learn the soft and hard skills that organizations need for many years.

In fact, I recall how when I first started providing education and training on effective employee recognition skills twenty years ago, that I was being asked to design and develop 1 and 2-day training programs. These days you’re lucky to get access to managers and leaders for even half a day.

But as Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte and global research analyst says, “learning in the flow of work is one of the most powerful levers available to business leaders today.”

That is what we should do with learning. Learning happens at work when the learner is ready to learn.

What are some new ways that managers and employees can learn to give better recognition to others?

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Appreciating People for Who They Are and Their Personal Qualities

When you get involved in a specific discipline and area of practice like employee recognition, you end up grappling with how to define things that fit your frame of reference.

At the same time you hope you can engage others is seeing things as you do and accepting the definitions you develop.

Such was the case with defining recognition when I first began speaking and training on the topic in the mid-nineties.  

A leading industrial company in Canada invited me to meet with them because they had just reviewed their employee engagement survey results. As is often the case, the responses to the questions addressing employee recognition were not so good.

In the first consultative meeting together I asked the leaders responsible for employee recognition what they were doing regarding recognizing employees. Following hearing about their existing programs and their total rewards strategy, I asked them if what they were doing was real recognition.

That’s when one of them sincerely asked me, what is “real recognition”?

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