Let Your Recognition Programs Tell You Everything You Need to Know

Online recognition programs are websites acting as a central platform for a variety of recognition and reward programs. They allow everyone in an organization to express their appreciation, say thanks to folks, and give recognition for the great things people do at work every day. 

Those with permission can also give people rewards, whether tangible, monetary, or experiential. You give rewards to people for going above and beyond normal work expectations and when excellent performance occurs. 

What can your recognition programs tell you that you’re not tapping into? 

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How To Engage All Employees In Using Your Recognition Programs

Too often we rely on lines from Hollywood movie scripts that say things like, “If you build it, they will come.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t work very well when it comes to recognition and reward programs.

Look at the following ideas to consider when you want to engage all, or more of, your employees in using your recognition programs.

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How To Make Recognition Something To Be Accountable For

It seems not enough organizations hold their leaders and managers accountable for giving meaningful and effective recognition to their staff.

These same organizational leaders ask why responses to recognition questions on the last engagement survey did not turn out so well. It is as if it surprised them to see these low numbers. Surely, they would have expected these numbers if leaders regularly connected with their direct reports.

Their problem was they did not hold leaders and managers accountable for recognizing their employees.

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First Things First – Learning How To Give Recognition

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 

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How To Inspire Others To Become Better Recognition Givers

Do you have leaders in your organization who can inspire others to be a great recognizer of the people they work with?

It makes such a difference when an organization has at least one inspiring leader. 

I am going to share with you tips and ideas for helping your leaders inspire their direct reports to become better recognizers of their employees. 

You might use these ideas as recommendations to share with leaders, as content stimulators for articles you write, or as objectives for educational content. 

Dive into inspiring others to become better recognition givers.

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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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Top 10 Ways to Recognize Remote Workers (2010 version)

This post was originally written for Incentive Magazine back in 2010. It’s amazing what can happen in a decade, with so many work from home employees due to the pandemic. Naturally, this only applies to knowledge workers, certain professionals, information technology, and other office workers able to perform most of their job functions at home.

Addenda are made when needed to comply with our current pandemic health prevention or restrictions.

Managing people who work at a distance from a company office is a far different situation than managing those we work with in person.  Rather than trying to manage a remote worker the same ways as you would someone in the next office, try these top 10 ways to build trust, inspire confidence and recognize your remote employees.

  1. Keep everyone connected.  Make it easy for on-site colleagues to get in touch with remote workers. Telephone systems, instant messaging and voice calling over internet applications enable remote workers to feel connected and a part of the team. [Now we have videoconferencing tools such as Zoom which was founded in 2011.]
  2. Recognize expectations met. Remote workers consistently meet deadlines and expected levels of performance and should be recognized as valuable assets for their focused dedication. Make time to quickly phone them or leave after work voice mails to specifically praise them for their dependable track record.
  3. Encourage transparency.  Support remote workers personal needs with family and life by developing transparent sharing of schedules and appointments.  Just knowing where they are at any given time helps build trust with the rest of the team who are used to more traditional work schedules.  [COVID-19 has required multiple partners, spouses, and children to be home together and juggling personal needs and use of technology and internet.]
  4. Get information out at lightning speed.  Ensure your remote team members not only have access to the same formal and informal sources of information as their colleagues in the office but that they even get it before the internals do.
  5. Schedule weekly conversations.   Remote workers are often reluctant to seek help from their managers, human resource experts, or external sources. Set up a regular day and time to discuss workloads and assignments, ask and answer questions and concerns to maintain an open line of communication.
  6. Offer time management training. The greatest challenge for remote workers is balancing priorities to get tasks completed.  This training should include the unique challenges of dealing with family, friends, and unusual interruptions; and the feelings of guilt associated with working excessive hours. [Many new work from home employees need guidance and productivity tips to deal with isolation and work pressures.]
  7. Declare weekends free.  Create clear guidelines and expectations regarding response to e-mails and assignments on weekends.  Dedicated remote workers can easily fall into the trap of working 24/7.  Encourage shut-down and “off times” with standards on exceptions to the rule to help prevent burnout.
  8. Do remotely special things. Think about what home office employees experience on a regular basis. Now realize what remote workers are missing out on and be creative on trying to recreate that in their lives – sending edible flower arrangements on anniversaries; personalized pens and latest office gizmos; and taking them out for lunch on a specially arranged visit to their hometown location. [While you might not have the freedom to send tangible items, make sure you show them care and concern, and give what you can to support them.]
  9. Empower workers for productivity.  Provide training and mentoring on overcoming the challenges of working remotely. Training will help make remote workers more productive and more satisfied with their working experience.  Provide the choice of offering this training remotely or in-class at the company location. [There are multiple sources for online training now since in-class instructions is prohibited.]
  10. Managers must learn how to trust. Managers must learn and adapt to managing the ever-growing virtual employees now in excess of 50 million.  Learning how to create high-trust relationships must become a core skill for managing the almost invisible powerhouse of remote workers.

Recognition Reflection: What practices have you started doing to better appreciate your new “work from home” employees?

Inspiring Your People To Do Great Things

One element of recognition often overlooked is encouraging people to do worthwhile things that lead to valuing and recognizing someone.

Being able to inspire people to great accomplishments is an ability we should all strive to learn. But it’s an essential skill to have when you are a leader.

Inspiration is all about filling up people with rousing emotions that you feel about a particular cause or action that you want other people to take on. Interestingly, the Latin root for the word “inspire”, means to breathe upon or into, like the pulmonary meaning of inspiration.

However, to inspire an individual or team to action is not a set of behaviors you may naturally have. Sure, some people you know can make this look easy. Yet, inspiring people requires specific skills that all of us can learn.

Consider the following qualities and behaviors to inspire people.

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Top 10 Ways To Drive Recognition Through Your Culture

Effective use of recognition programs and exemplary recognition practices are always driven by your company’s organizational culture. Your culture must stimulate the positive actions you want to see happening to get more people recognizing others more frequently. Look at these Top 10 Ways to Drive Recognition Through Your Culture to spark greater engagement.

  1. Leaders need to own developing company culture. They are the ones who can see the big picture and the corporate vision. Leaders must not only drive organizational culture but also align it with the company business strategy, people strategy, and even your recognition strategy.
  2. How leaders act and what they focus on determines your culture. Leaders must visibly demonstrate daily actions of recognition expressions and celebrating achievements. What employees see their leaders positively doing they will strive to emulate. It is much easier to follow good examples.
  3. Establish a strategic recognition team/committee. Draw upon a diverse and inclusive representation of leaders and employees to steer the integration of recognition into all facets of work life practices. Have them flag any discrepancies with positively living the company culture from top to bottom.
  4. Frame the value of recognition giving and start a movement. Encourage a small number of leaders and employees to become ambassadors of recognition giving. Commit them to passionately appreciate people for the great things being done. Show them how to effectively use your programs.
  5. Expand recognition through company networks. There will be leaders and different departments whose people are better at recognition giving than others. Provide them the chance to share through email broadcast, printed articles, and video interviews how, and why, they are such good recognizers.
  6. Evaluate your stated organizational values and beliefs. People leave and change and so do the way things are done. Your company values may need to be evaluated and revised to fit better. Staff must then identify whether their personal beliefs still mesh with the company’s values and direction.
  7. Create unifying symbols of recognition for everyone. Ensure symbols of recognition are reinforced through branding and meaningful program names. Consider using social badges on your recognition website. Have branded tangible gift items available to acknowledge your employees achievements.
  8. Set simple goals to achieve quick wins. Invite people to set realistic goals for how often they will give better and more effective recognition. Use forum pages or online social collaboration tools to share progress. Or post successes and what you’ve learned through your social recognition program.
  9. Influence your culture through learning. Do what you can to create continuous learning opportunities to develop your culture and recognition giving skills. Get your learning development experts to utilize every available informal and formal learning method to enhance culture and recognition.
  10. Call out the cultural expectations for recognition giving. Use all available communication channels to invite everyone to be true to your culture. Ask staff to gently remind colleagues when they’re not doing or saying things consistent with what your company believes. Recognize those who live it!

Previously published by the author in Incentive Magazine

Here’s How to Get Engagement With Your Recognition Program

Sometimes companies launch recognition programs and they don’t exactly light up the sky and shine, as they should. 

For a variety of reasons you might not have gotten the engagement and traction you thought you would when you designed and developed your organization’s recognition program. You thought you got everyone’s input and their buy in, and then… pfft! 

Lots of foundational things can stop recognition program engagement whether it’s access to technology, the nature of the work of most employees, or simply a lack of respect thinking employee recognition is unimportant.

But let’s look at what needs to be in place to engage your managers and employees with your employee recognition programs.

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