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?
Heading every organization is a senior leadership team.
They play a critical role in providing strategic and operational leadership for your organization. And they also play an essential role in representing the organizational culture and showing what leadership should look like, by how they interact with one another and with employees.
They often leave your task to “read minds” on how each leader thinks about recognition. Hopefully, you have an exemplary executive sponsor who is a cheerleader and champion for the cause of employee recognition to draw upon.
But in a general sense, how do you find out what each of your executive leaders think about recognition?
The recognition and reward industry are a mix of similar goods, technology, and services, in contrast with newer players who tend to provide more of a “plug-and-play” program offering.
Plug-and-play recognition and reward programs tend to focus more on the offering of rewards than they do recognition. And with this software as a service, stand-alone programs, clients typically manage their own programs.
The question you have to ask yourself is whether you want a “quick-and-ready” approach. If you want to lead out with recognition and use rewards wisely you might want to think about creating a strategically designed recognition approach instead.
If you are going to compare you have to compare all the way. Is the vendor simply a provider or are they willing to be a reputable partner dedicated to maximizing the employee experience?
Most recognition strategies and plans for recognition depend on moving the bar on whatever metrics you have for program usage and employee perception of recognition.
The gap analysis of where your recognition status is today and where you want it to be tomorrow relies on the program metrics you have. The challenging part about program usage metrics is that they are all lagging indicator measures.
Lagging indicators do just that, they lag behind on indicating whether you achieved the results you wanted. By the time you get the output measures on a program, it’s hard to do anything about them that will make a future change.
Is there anything you can really do that can change this? Is there one important thing you can do that will make recognition happen?
One way to make recognition happen more frequently is to make it visible. When recognition is more conspicuous as a principle throughout the entire organization, it’s easier to make recognition more a way of life than just a program.
Creating visibility for recognition requires both an individual and organizational focus. Does your organization have a low, medium, or high level of recognition visibility?
Examine the following areas to see what you can do to have recognition more visible.
COVID-19 is taking its toll in the workplace. However, a recent Gartner report suggests that managers need to redouble their recognition efforts. One of the areas we can’t neglect is career milestones and other achievement celebrations. Keeping celebrations alive helps to invigorate organizations and inspire people. Follow these Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Employees from a Distance and keep the ritual and ceremony of celebrations happening.
Commit to the celebratory side of work. Realize the importance that celebrations hold in the lives of employees. It is a way to honor people for their achievements and contributions. Do all you can to keep celebrations going even if they’re done differently.
Create celebration memory triggers. Your job is to create recognition experiences and emotional connections that will make lasting memories for recognition recipients. Always set goals of what you want to have happen in the eyes of each person you celebrate.
Prepare supportive visual imagery. Celebrations are very visual events. Develop creative signage to show or send to individuals to use. Take screen captures, photos, and quotes from people who can’t attend. Use visual overlays or backgrounds for videoconferencing.
Consider the auditory messaging. Be specific and positive with how you communicate your recognition. Select meaningful and upbeat music to integrate with presentations. Invite all remote attendees to have noisemakers and party horn blowers to use at key points.
Are there tactile things you need. Ensure awards or gifts are shipped well in advance so recipient has them. Build in opportunities for people to applaud. Design unifying and personalized items for everyone to wear or wave like badges or posters, etc.
What about the sense of smell? Remote celebrations miss out on the olfactory senses such as food. Order cakes from a local bakery or have everyone prepare cupcakes ahead of time. If the recipient likes flowers send them flowers on the day of the virtual event.
Put action into the virtual event. Orchestrate virtual attendees to wave hands and shout out on cue. Create a compilation video ahead of time of peers of the recognition recipient sending special greetings. Record a socially distanced parade with music and banners.
Planning requires extra time. Always start early with planning celebrations from a distance especially with technology. Start with your purpose and your goal. How does the organization want to be represented and by who? Think of a theme to guide preparations.
Orchestrate but allow improvisation. While much of celebrating from a distance requires detailed planning, make sure you allow some spontaneity as well. Invite award recipients to say a few words. Bring is surprise guests of family or former managers.
Timing is absolutely everything. Up the delivery dates of awards, gifts, essential props and signage. Empower managers to represent your organization and make the celebration special. Enlist a team of supportive employees willing to pull off each celebration event.
Previously published by the author in Incentive Magazine.
It’s hard to believe that the first Harry Potter fantasy novel written by British author J. K. Rowling came out in June 1997. I remember reading the first book to my youngest son while he lay in a hospital bed.
And if you missed reading all seven books in the Harry Potter series, you might have viewed the movies when they came out in theatres starting in 2001.
This was when we all started hearing about the spells Harry Potter and his various housemates and opponents used on people and surrounding objects.
But you can also give spellbinding recognition the same way as magical spells. Read the following with extra care.
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.