Okay. What Do You Think Is Wrong with Employee Engagement?

When I first met my wife, Irene, it was love at first sight.

Shortly thereafter, I proposed to her in a written letter and we were soon engaged with a ring to be married. This was my pledge to marry her and by her saying “yes” back to me, her agreement to go along with this.

I am pleased to say we have been “happily” married for over 42 years. You see happily placed in quotation marks simply because marriage is hard work. As a typical male, I know I have not always been the easiest person to live with. Both of us have learned to give and take in all aspects of our lives. I also think that in growing in love together, we have each discovered more about ourselves along the way.

With getting married, the term engagement is mostly a short-lived timeframe and is really just a pre-cursor to marriage itself, which is hoped to be a forever experience. 

But maybe as we look at employee engagement, we should take a second look at how well we are engaging people.

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It’s The Everyday Recognition That’s A Problem

It’s time to let you in on a secret I have known for over twenty years.

When I started my business doing consulting and training around recognition practices and programs, I thought I would find all the organizations that had no recognition going on and save the world. It was a poor marketing strategy and no one from those organizations ever hired me. 

The interesting thing was it was always organizations that were doing recognition that hired me.  

It was always the same trigger that brought me in. Organizational leaders would call up whenever their employee engagement surveys came back and showed low scores for the statements or questions related to employee recognition. 

What was the disconnect? Why was it that their employee scores on the recognition questions were so low? 

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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.

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.

The Exciting Beginning of Every Recognition Experience

There’s too much reliance upon recognition program data and engagement survey results as the source for trying to make recognition better.

All these metrics do is tell you what happened with recognition a month ago, six-months, or a year back. We don’t do a very good job with this hindsight learning. And we rarely stop to ask ourselves questions about these measurements. Nor do we plan well and take action on the data we collect.

These “output” oriented metrics are easy to measure. If you use a recognition program this is noted and recorded. Check. For engagement surveys, you answer each question using a Likert scale response, such as I feel valued and appreciated for the work I do at that particular point in time. Strongly agree.

When was that again? The program I used last month and the last engagement survey was 8 months ago. Measures like this are referred to as lagging indicators because they lag behind the occurrence of the recognition experience. A problem with lagging indicators is they are hard to improve upon or influence because they are in the past.

Let’s stop looking at retroactive memories of what caused someone to be recognized. My suggestion for improving recognition is to ask what happens before every recognition experience? Think about it.

Are you ready to see what you can do to improve the frequency of recognition being given to everyone where you work? (more…)