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 Define Your Purpose for Rewards in Your Programs

When I assist company leaders in creating a recognition strategy, I take them through defining and crafting a purpose statement and philosophy statement as part of their strategy design.

Essentially, I am asking them to answer the question, why are you doing recognition? 

WorldatWork asked the same question and received the following responses. These are the top seven of the 17 choices people had to select from. 

1.    Create/maintain a culture of recognition

2.    Create/maintain a positive work environment

3.    Reinforce desired behaviors

4.    Increase employee engagement

5.    Support organizational mission/values

6.    Motivate high performance

7.    Increase retention or decrease employee turnover 

You can ask the same “why” question about giving rewards, too. Why are you giving rewards if you are combining them in a recognition and rewards program? Not enough people stop to define their reasons or purpose for giving rewards besides recognition. 

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How to More Effectively Approach Milestone Recognition

Career milestone award or service award recognition programs have been around for many years.

Over those years there have been the customary plaques, symbolic crystal awards, and gold watches—and these used to start when a person reached 25-years of service.

But as tenure reduced significantly with economy and business changes, and retention of employees was harder to maintain, career milestones now begin at 5 years and 5-year increments thereafter. Today, you will find many companies now start career milestones at an employee’s first year of service.

The reality is, whether you give an employee something tangible or not, they always have a workplace anniversary every single year.

How do you plan to make the next round of your milestone recognition celebrations more meaningful and effective?

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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 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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If You Want To Give More Recognition, First Figure Out Why

I have seen where after a poor performance on the recognition measures of a recent employee engagement survey that the CEO tells all the leaders and managers to go out there and give more recognition to people.

You can probably guess why the senior leader asked them to do that. The reason was to improve the recognition scores on the next engagement survey.

This mandate from on high doesn’t work.

Giving more recognition to the people you work with for the sake of the numbers is not why you want to recognize others more.

It is not about numbers and measuring the occurrence of recognition. It is about giving recognition more purposefully.

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Why You Have to Get Recognition Programs Right

There will always be horror stories around recognition programs if you don’t start off on the right foot. 

And the irony of it all is the challenges most often come with the misnomer of calling these problematic programs “recognition programs”. Problems with errant programs usually lies when using rewards, be they tangible merchandise, cash, or near cash rewards.

So, get recognition programs right so there is equity and fairness with non-monetary and intangible recognition and tangible and monetary rewards accompanying these recognition programs.

There is also a need for authenticity and inclusiveness with the expressions of recognition given to people through your programs, whether this is by text, spoken word, or video. Recognition must be genuine and sincere in both intent and how it is communicated to a person. We should give regard to all employees who contribute day in and day out and not focus solely on the rising stars whose performance always exceeds the standards of most employees.

Recognition is for everyone.

You must make sure you get your recognition programs right.

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Top 10 Ways to Select the Right Incentive or Recognition Award

Make sure the awards you give excite recipients and represent your company well.

Choosing the right awards for your various incentive and recognition programs is never an easy task. You want to show employees that their contributions are valued and appreciated. Awards should match your program’s goals and celebrate employee achievements. Today’s employees want more than the traditional award items. Check out the Top 10 Ways to Select the Right Incentive or Recognition Award to help you decide.

1. Clearly spell out your program’s purpose. Is this award for a sales campaign? Are you wanting to get people enlisted in your health and wellness platform? Or is this a prestigious award for the president’s excellence program? Awards must always fit the program purpose and desired performance level.

2. Have employees involved and ask them. Use an employee survey to get the big picture view and employee input. Ask them to prioritize on criteria such as the meaningfulness and perception of various award options. Draw upon focus groups, too, so you can dig deeper. Solicit the why behind each employee idea.

3. Focus on the meaningfulness factor. Employees are very clear on whether an award item is meaningful or not. Always add on to the award presentation. For example, who’s presenting the award? How have you orchestrated the total award celebration experience? What elements can you make even better?

4. Inspire and excite award recipients. Does the incentive or recognition award inspire the recipient to do, and be, better? As you explore award items – whether tangible gifts or symbolic awards – find out how excited employees are to receive them. Evaluate the emotional appeal of the awards you’re thinking about.

5. Provide choice wherever you can. Giving people exciting options to decide from is a great way to create motivation. Whether the awards are a lifestyle item, health and fitness, electronics, outdoor, or experiential items, charitable donations, or gift cards. Think choice! This factor can be especially critical with incentives.

6. Always use quality, name brand products. It can be a real let down when an award gift breaks or stops functioning shortly after receiving it. Stick with brand name items that are top quality. Ensure your award vendor is reputable and has a great exchange and replacement policy. Your award speaks for you.

7. Put symbolic awards on a pedestal. Trophies and medals must be totally representative of your organization. Look at Olympic medals and the Oscars® for what they mean to recipients. Whatever symbolic award the design must be an extension of the company and your brand. They will become a treasured prize.

8. Think outside of the box for novel ideas. No need to stay with the tried and true award selections. Dabble in creativity such as a customized portrait painting from a family photo of a recipient. Provide an opportunity to learn something new from an expert that the employee has mentioned such as painting or in music.

9. Move from tangible to experiential. Corporate volunteer trips to destinations around the world appeal to younger generation employees. They can build schools or set up wells with water access. This is a fully immersive cultural and teambuilding experience that leaves a legacy associated with your company.

10. Choose your own adventure. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman made famous the idea of doing things before you “kick the bucket”. Have employees choose experiences that bring joy. It could be skydiving, an amazing destination experience like whale watching in Patagonia, or cooking with a chef in Paris.

 

A version of this post first appeared in Incentive Magazine.

Why Recognition Messaging Is So Important

Do your employees know the difference between recognition and rewards? Are managers and supervisors consistently praising and recognizing their direct reports for doing good work on a regular basis? Is peer-to-peer recognition happening through your social recognition newsfeed and face-to-face?

If you had a “no” to any one of those questions, you likely need to send out recognition messaging more often.

It might well be time to communicate what recognition is and why it is so important. You may need to tell everyone how easily they can recognize one another. Show them how to give meaningful and effective recognition.

I have written before about the importance of creating a Recognition Communications Calendar to support your recognition programs and practices. However, I was not as clear as I should have been, about what to include in your advanced communication planning.

You have to be strategic about the recognition messaging you want to convey throughout the company. Here are some quick thoughts to guide you. (more…)

Why a Recognition Mission Statement Is So Important

What happens when your organization doesn’t even have a purpose for recognition? Why should you have a written mission statement for recognition?

That’s the dilemma one of your fellow subscribers submitted. For them, their biggest struggle is not having a formal company mission regarding recognition.

Too often, the focus for many organizations with recognition is limited to recognition programs. Recognition programs should be viewed as simply a tool to help people practice the more important, day-to-day practice of recognition giving.

That’s why your purpose for recognition should always include recognition practices as well as your recognition programs.

How can you create a recognition mission statement? (more…)