Top 5 Essential Recognition Skills for Leaders

You’ll find plenty of positive recognition practices to become a great recognizer in the many posts in this blog, or within chapters in my book Practicing Recognition, that will help you and the leaders in your organization.

Yet those of you who lead your recognition programs and strive to encourage your leaders to be exemplary recognition givers, influencing leaders to do this important skill can be tough. 

I wanted to dig deeper and draw upon the essential skills that leaders need to develop. What might you coach your leaders on that would help them catch the vision? 

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Why It Takes Leadership To Make Recognition Happen

Hopefully, your organization has the leadership and engagement of senior leaders, managers, and staff, to make your recognition practices and programs happen the way they should.

Not all organizations are as fortunate to have things rolling forward and progressing in innovative ways. And whether it is you taking the leadership role for recognition, or senior leaders directing the action needed, its leadership that makes recognition happen. 

Leadership does not have to be a title. You just have to take the lead in something like employee recognition and then show others how to follow you. 

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How To Get Your Leaders To Use Your Recognition Programs

When I conducted a management survey several years ago in the public sector, a response to one question asked revealed that 93 percent of all managers said senior leader involvement in recognition programs was very or extremely important. A large majority, 75 percent, said it was extremely important. 

The reality? 

These same managers said only 21 percent of leaders were very involved with their recognition programs. 

Our research shows that organizations with leaders committed to supporting award and recognition programs strategically, financially, and by example, have higher employee evaluations for feeling appreciated for their contributions on the job.

All that remains for you to do is to get your leaders using your online recognition programs. Try out some of the following suggestions.

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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 Do You Think I Am Doing At Recognizing People?

There are lots of studies done revealing how leaders are doing with giving meaningful and effective recognition to their employees. 

The Canadian firm, Psychometrics, found in their Study of Employee Engagement in the Canadian Workplace that 58 percent of employees say leaders giving more recognition would improve employee engagement. 

In my research with the Survey Findings of Employee Recognition in the Public Sector, managers who responded, overwhelmingly stated that senior leader involvement with employee recognition was very or extremely important (93 percent). However, the reality reveals only 21 percent of leaders are very involved, a sign that people who make the organizations run are not seen as important or valued. 

Gallup research shows nearly one-quarter of employees said the most memorable recognition comes from a high-level leader or CEO. They suggest that employees will always remember personal feedback from the CEO. When a high-ranking leader takes time to show appreciation, it can yield a positive impression for an employee that could last a lifetime. In fact, acknowledgment from a CEO could become a career highlight.

What we are seeing is the need for senior leaders to become better at giving recognition. Let’s explore some ways for getting there. 

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How To Get Emerging Leaders Involved With Recognition

You find yourself stuck with finding the resources you need to help with your recognition plans. 

Your organizational leaders want you to strategize how to make recognition a stronger tool to use within talent management and creating a positive employee experience. In the meantime, you must continue to manage the recognition programs, encourage managers to give recognition to employees they rarely see in person, and keep leaders informed of the ROI of employee recognition.

Why not team up with your organization or learning and development leaders and find out if your needs for recognition could become a goal for a team of emerging leaders? 

This is exactly what happened to us when an organization approached a colleague and I about presenting our thoughts and strategy around employee recognition in the retail industry.

The following happened, and you can follow these steps as a playbook to implement where you work.  

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What Your Leaders Need To Better Understand Recognition

WorldatWork surveyed their members and found that the average organization uses eight separate recognition programs. That’s a lot! 

However, what they don’t state is how well people use those recognition programs, either by leaders or by their employees. The secret to using these programs properly is to help your leaders better understand the value and importance of employee recognition. 

How can you get your leaders on board, and what do they first need to know about employee recognition? 

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How To Use SMS To Remind People To Give Recognition

Do your employees feel valued and appreciated for their work contributions? If not, is it because recognition is not top of mind for your leaders and managers? What if you could remind your leaders and managers to recognize more often? Are there ways that technology can help? 

There is a way to nudge your leaders and managers into giving more frequent and better day-to-day recognition to their direct reports, and others. You can create triggers for your leaders and managers to give more meaningful and consistent recognition to people. This will guarantee affecting the overall employee experience and improve performance, too.  

How do you do this? Listen up!

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What It Means To Be An Executive Sponsor of Recognition

If you want to get recognition strategically connected to your organization’s business plan, then you are going to need an executive sponsor. Having an executive sponsor is your key to getting recognition on the senior leadership table and raising the profile and impact of employee recognition throughout the organization. 

But what exactly does an Executive Sponsor do? 

Learn about their role, and how they can help you give the boost you need for employee recognition. 

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How To Find Out What Your Leaders Think of 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? 

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