When Recognition and Rewards Are Not Top of Mind

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? 

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Are You Really Giving People Recognition on Purpose?

Do you know why you recognize people?

If you haven’t thought about why you appreciate and recognize people, take some time out to articulate your beliefs and reasons for recognizing the people you work, play, and live with.

For me it is about appreciating people for who they are, independent of any work they do, and valuing everything that a person brings with them to the workplace. It’s about recognizing people for all that they do—both the insignificant and the amazing things people do. 

Recognition is about valuing people and their contributions. It is the transferring of positive feelings and emotions from one person to another, in response to an employee’s positive behaviors or actions.

What is your purpose for giving recognition?

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Why I Tell People Not To Create a Culture of Recognition

I was just scrolling through some questions people asked me at the HRPA Conference in Toronto this past January.

One person asked a question that represents the standard thinking of many people. They wanted to know how to create a culture of recognition. The audience there heard my thoughts. Now I want to share them with you.

First off. Please do not create a culture of recognition.

I’ll explain why.

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How To Craft a Clear Purpose for Recognition

I love reading the latest business books and business magazines that inspire me to think about employee recognition in a fresh new way.

For example, in the September-October Harvard Business Review (HBR) there’s a great article on Put Your Purpose at the Core of Your Strategy by Thomas W. Malnight, professor at IMD, Ivy Buche, associate director, Business Transformation Initiative at IMD, and Charles Dhanaraj, a professor at Temple University. 

Now, as you would expect from HBR, these academics are addressing purpose as it relates to business strategies. But I instantly saw the application of the principles in this article towards creating a recognition strategy.

Are you ready?

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How To Shift Organizational Cultures After a Merger

There are challenging things that people in corporations experience and one of those times is when there is a merger and acquisition with another company.

It affects people in so many ways and it can impact how you will proceed with recognition and rewards.

Consider that consulting firm McKinsey and Company found that “95 percent of executives describe cultural fit as critical to the success of integration following a merger. Yet 25 percent cite a lack of cultural cohesion and alignment as the primary reason integration efforts fail.”

Getting culture right is obviously critical after a merger.

William Bridges, author of one of my favorite books, Managing Transitions: Making the most of Change, wisely said, “It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions.”

What he’s referring to here is that change is situational, as in the case we’re discussing here with a merger. But transition is “the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation.” Thus change is external and transition is internal.

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Taking a Quick Look at Career Milestone Awards

How are your career milestone or service award programs doing these days?

It seems the majority of organizations have tenure or long service award programs. According to WorldatWork’s 2017 Trends in Employee Recognition, length of service recognition remains the top ranked recognition program with 85 percent of organizations. 

Historically, and especially within the public sector, career milestone years were only acknowledged when an employee reached 25 years or longer. Today, most progressive organizations commence with at least 5 years and then celebrate every 5-year increment thereafter.

But when you look at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics the average tenure for salaried employees is 4.2 years. That average drops to 2.8 years for the mobile 25 to 34 year old employees.

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What Do You Want Your Recognition Strategy To Look Like?

Each organization, large or small, should have a written recognition strategy to position recognition at the forefront in their organization.

Michael Porter, in his classic Harvard Business Review article, “What Is Strategy?” states that “strategic positioning attempts to achieve sustainable competitive advantage by preserving what is distinctive about a company. It means performing different activities from rivals or performing similar activities in different ways.”

Naturally, Porter is speaking about a traditional business strategy and not about a recognition strategy.

But what can you learn from the wisdom of Michael Porter? Are there principles you can apply to crafting a recognition strategy? Let’s look carefully at his work. (more…)

How To Align Recognition with Behaviors and Performance

Organizations need to do a much better job of aligning recognition practices and programs with the great things their employees do.

The 2017 WorldatWork Trends in Employee Recognition Survey showed that above-and-beyond performance recognition programs were offered by 77 percent of the organizations surveyed. The challenge with above-and-beyond programs is that so few employees can ever be “above-and-beyond” at any one time. This leaves a lot of employees out in the cold, so to speak, from being recognized for positive actions.

WorldatWork results also revealed how only 51 percent of the companies offered programs to motivate specific behaviors.

In the past five years, recognition programs used to motivate specific behaviors, have risen from the fourth most used type of program to now being in the third position. However, even with this apparent popularity rise, behavioral type recognition programs only recognized 25 percent of employees, on average, in the past 12 months of the survey.

How can you, as a recognition program leader, use your recognition programs to consistently reinforce positive behaviors and lift workplace performance? (more…)

Why Recognizing Employees For Going Above and Beyond Is a Good Thing

When employees go above and beyond in the workplace it stands out.

It’s noticeable. Exceptional. And it should be celebrated.

That is why managers need to understand the importance of recognizing employees for going above and beyond.

Why should you establish an above and beyond category to your existing recognition award programs? What are the benefits of doing so? (more…)

My RPI Update For You

I don’t know if the conference was directly planned around it or not, but the common theme that emerged from the plenary presentations at the 2018 Recognition Professionals International’s (RPI) annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee, was clearly – organizational culture.

David Sturt, from O.C. Tanner, and co-author of Appreciate: Celebrating People, Inspiring Greatness, began the conference discussing A Modern Framework for Building an Engaging Culture. A line David repeated a few times during his speech was, “culture is powerful.”He gave several examples from around the globe to prove his point. It was evident that the character and actions of a CEO and other leaders have a significant effect on culture.

He covered six elements of his model, namely, Purpose, Opportunity, Leadership, Wellbeing, Success, and, of course, Appreciation.  Here’s an interesting finding from David’s presentation. Their research found “31% of employees say their direct manager often takes credit for their work or ideas.”

I like how he reminded all of us “employee engagement is something that is chosen not driven.”You can’t make someone else engaged. You can only engage yourself. Everyone else helps to create an engaging environment.

First thing Tuesday morning, Chester Elton, from The Culture Works, woke us all up with his lively style highlighting findings from his recently released, co-written book, The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance. Besides making a winning team, Chester shared how culture drives your brand. If you don’t get culture right recognition doesn’t happen. He told us if you want to make your day a little better, go and appreciate someone.

We can learn from everyone and Kimberly Huffman, Director of Organizational Development, from Dollar General proved that was the case. She focused her presentation on how they’ve worked on creating an employee experience to elevate employee engagement. Kimberly reminded us “the customer experience will never exceed the employee experience.”

If you live in North America, you’ve probably shopped at a TSC store some time in your life. Dennis Borchers, HR Communications Manager, from Tractor Supply Company, taught us powerful stories and examples of store associates who made a difference. Dennis made an interesting point when he said, “Every day is just as important as the extraordinary.”This was in response to the examples of two store associates. One would be deemed to have made a significant and repeated contribution. The other was an employee who exemplified outstanding customer service on one observed occasion. Both merited being recognized.

It is always good to associate with like-minded people at conferences like RPI. This is especially the case when you meet up and share ideas with recognition practitioners who work so hard to make recognition happen in their companies.

Reflective Question: How do you address your organization’s culture to drive recognition giving practices?