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?
How do you get leaders to be more aware of the importance of recognition and rewards?
Too often, recognition and rewards and the programs you have in place are not top of mind for many people. And when employees themselves are not on board with recognizing others, you know you’ve got a problem.
What does it take to raise the importance and value of recognition and rewards?
Hopefully, you have a supportive executive leader who acts as your sponsor or champion for the cause of employee recognition where you work. You never want recognition to become out of sight and then out of their mind.
The only reason recognition would ever disappear off of your leader’s radar screen is if you take it off yourself.
That’s why it is so important to help your leaders stay on top of everything that’s going on with employee recognition.
Here are some great ways to keep recognition top of mind for your leaders.
Some of us have a hard time recognizing those
around us and especially people we associate with at work.
Historically, people have viewed
recognition as a top-down behavior where managers and leaders started
recognizing employees who reported to them. This likely originated from the
military where senior officers presented medals as awards for specific service
or achievement in military campaigns.
With the reduced hierarchy in organizations
leading to a reduction in middle managers along with online recognition
programs accessible by all employees, they have emancipated the source of who
Recognition is no longer constrained by a
person’s position or title and should be multi-directional.
But there can still be a bias or perception of
who should give recognition. So besides considering who should give
recognition, what about in the other direction? This raises the question whether
some people at different levels of position are harder to recognize that others
You and I know that there are many employees who
are not getting recognized enough.
To give people the right recognition, it would
also be helpful to know the best person to make this happen. Who do your
employees prefer most to be recognized by? Is it by your leaders, by
their immediate supervisor or manager, or by their peers?
to employees versus talking to your leaders can yield a completely different viewpoint about what
everyone thinks about employee recognition.
When Leigh Branham was researching for his book, The 7 Hidden Reasons Employee Leave, he learned that 89 percent of bosses believed their employees quit their jobs because they wanted more money. But when they talked to employees, only 12 percent of them stated they would leave an organization for more money.
Now, what about recognition? How do your senior leaders perceive
employee recognition? The answer to this question determines the success or
challenges you face with managing employee recognition initiatives in your
That is why if you don’t know your leader’s perception about
employee recognition you had better find out soon.
it is a strategy meeting, planning meeting, or procurement meeting, there is
something special that happens when you have your executive champion present in
the room with the rest of your recognition committee.
administering, monitoring, and planning the day-to-day aspects of recognition
practices and programs, requires constant vigilance, self-discipline, and
persistence on your part with supporting recognition throughout the
reason you periodically want a senior leader in a recognition strategy or
steering committee meeting, is because they can help you align recognition with
the business strategy and give you the vision of where they see recognition
supporting organizational strategic initiatives.
of the following benefits of having a senior leader in your meetings.
Now is a time for unconventional leadership and innovation
with recognition and reward programs. Analytics and AI are blossoming in the HR
technology world. We need these same tools in the recognition space. This
requires a certain type of leader – an unconventional leader. Look out for
people who demonstrate these Top 10 Unconventional Ways to Lead Your
Recognition Initiatives. They’ll advance the cause of recognition into the
leaders have courage to do the right thing. If a recognition and reward program
hasn’t shown any benefit these leaders are prepared to shut it down. But
they’ll also expect you to replace it with something better that will work.
leaders demonstrate impeccable integrity. They’ll want inclusion and
fairness with all programs, especially with rewards. They’ll advocate for the
receptionist and janitor the same as they would for any senior executive.
leaders are wise stewards over everything. They’re willing to invest funds
and resources for recognition programs over the long term. No one will be
expected to do more, or work longer, than is right and respectful of home needs.
leaders are humble enough to be working for others. You’ll find great
leaders are willing to go to bat for you and work with you. They’ll want a
strong business case presented and clear rationale for the programs you want.
leaders simply care for others. Recognition programs are about caring and
appreciating others. Besides praise and acknowledgment, they’ll want care shown
for the positive and tough things that happen to their employees.
leaders take on challenges. Why not boldly declare that all employees will feel valued and
appreciated for their contributions on the job. It may not be easy to do but
they will enlist every company leader to make sure it happens.
leaders ignore what everyone else is doing. If a majority of companies are
using points-based reward programs that doesn’t mean these leaders will follow.
They will create the best vision and processes right for their employees.
leaders lead with leading indicators. Forget about lagging indicators like
recognition program usage and participation statistics. These leaders are
looking to measure whatever behaviors precede every recognition experience.
leaders are always dependable. They will lead recognition by example. You
can count on them to consistently use your recognition programs. And your
employees will always be proud to receive a thank you card from them.
10. Unconventional leaders use persuasion for power. They will never usurp control over your managing of recognition and reward programs. Instead, they will gently steer you in a direction that eventually makes sense and that you fully adopt.
Previously published in Incentive Magazine by the author.