How To Teach Others To Help You Teach Recognition

It is hard to teach everyone how to give meaningful and effective recognition to one another, no matter the size of the organization you work for.

That’s why you need to enlist an army of people to aid you. 

Dictionary.com explains that the more helpers you have available to you then the task will be easier. The proverb “many hands make light work” was reportedly first recorded in English in the early 1300s in a knightly romance known as Sir Bevis of Hampton. However, John Heywood, a 16th century writer known for his plays, poems, and collection of proverbs, is most often attributed as the originator of this proverb. 

What can you do to teach other to help you teach people in your organization how to give amazing recognition to one another? 

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Teaching People to Give Recognition Should Be Easy, Right?

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? 

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How To Get Staff To Focus More On Recognition During Tough Times

There are a lot of things the current pandemic has affected with how we use our recognition and reward programs. 

Many organizations affected by the pandemic economically have reduced revenue because of shutting down production, a lack of sales, and the impact on clients affording goods and services. 

The bottom-line outcome is companies cannot always afford to pay for rewards as they normally would.  

People have asked for guidance on how to communicate to their teams the need to prioritize no or low-cost recognition options versus use of rewards in view of the financial reality. They also don’t want to give a negative viewpoint. 

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What About Levels of Skill In Giving Recognition?

Each of us has varying levels of confidence and proficiency with being able to recognize those you live with and especially those you work with.

For some, they had upbeat and positive parents, teachers, and coaches, who inspired them to grow and be successful. They regularly received words of encouragement, appropriate praise, and recognition for their accomplishments.

Others had life situations where they always needed to overcome negativity, received put downs at school, and a lack of sincere concern for the welfare of others. Even where they worked had toxic bosses and a lack of appreciation for their contributions.

No matter the route you took in life, or the role models you had in your life, they now expect you appropriately praise and recognize your employees.

But we all have different abilities and attitudes around giving meaningful and effective recognition.

What can we do?

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Embedding Recognition in the Everyday Life of the Company – Part 2

In a previous post I covered Part 1 of Embedding Recognition in the Everyday Life of the Company. There we looked at how you can integrate recognition practices and philosophy at the very beginning of an employee’s career by putting recognition into your onboarding strategy and practices.

For this post, I will address some additional ways you can embed recognition into some typical work structures and practices that go on in most organizations.

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How To Develop Emerging Recognition Leaders in Your Organization

A few years ago, some managers at a particular company reached out to a Rideau colleague of mine and me to have a telephone meeting with them. These were young leaders in the making and were part of this company’s emerging leaders’ program. They wanted to learn more about employee recognition and specifically about our recognition programs at Rideau.

Later, we were invited to attend an on-site meeting at the company head office. There we connected with these managers and their peers from across North America, both face-to-face and virtually.

While they were from various departments and held a variety of positions within the company, it was fascinating seeing the light go on for them, and their asking thought-provoking questions about employee recognition.

Their emerging leader program project required them to seek insights on best practices, creating a recognition strategy, and what programs would work best for their managers and employees.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every organization desired to develop their managers through an emerging recognition leaders’ program?

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This Is What Awesome Recognition Looks Like

Some people seem to be just a natural when they are out and about in the company as far as appreciating people for who they are and recognizing the wonderful contributions made by employees.

There will always be others who have a much harder time in recognizing others. For whatever reasons, such as not being recognized as a child, perhaps more introverted, or plain uncomfortable with knowing what to say or do, recognition doesn’t happen.

But the great news is that giving awesome recognition to people is a skill anyone can learn.

When you know what something hard to do looks like, such as a new skill you have to learn, observe those people that do it well. Then all you have to do is reverse engineer how they do the task or skill and then you can replicate this ideal performance and do it yourself.

What does awesome recognition look like? How can you learn to master this art and science of giving meaningful and effective recognition?

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How To Get Ready To Educate People About Giving Recognition

When you think education and training is the next steps to take with making real recognition happen where you work, there are a few things to take into consideration first before planning the training program.

In fact, if you prepare yourself and the prospective learners properly, then they will better learn how to give more meaningful and effective recognition to those they work with.

Prior preparation also impacts those involved in designing and developing the learning curriculum and planning the right methods of delivery.

Let’s get ready to educate your employees about recognizing one another the right way.

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What Should You Do If Your Recognition Education Fails?

Most corporate training and education programs work very well. But now and then you get an educational program, whether in-class, online, blended, or via one of the many learning delivery methods, that ends up being a failure.

If you were following the Kirkpatrick Model and the levels of training evaluation, you might do a Level 3 evaluation to examine participant’s behaviors after the training. You want to find out the degree participants are now actively applying what they learned in the training sessions back on the job. 

You conduct a survey to find out what learning participants are doing or not doing with giving employee recognition. Now you find out that a majority of the learners are not doing much with the skills and principles they were taught.

What can you do to correct this problem? How would you handle the fact that your recognition education failed?

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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