We are approaching the last quarter of the year and it may well be time to submit your budget requests for keeping your offline and online recognition programs in place, or even asking for funding to add new programs.
It can seem like a nail biting exercise each year to go through. One way to make this angst less ominous is to get your executive sponsor’s support ahead of time. Follow these practical ways to get your leader’s commitment to your recognition program budget.
What do you see or notice about your peers, or direct reports that merits acknowledgment and recognition? Are you even aware of what your colleague works on right now that makes them proud? Why are they excited to come to work each day?
To learn the answers to these questions, you need to have excellent observation skills. You need to become an amazing observer of people and the great things going on all around you.
Check out a few of the ways you can use to develop amazing observation abilities.
Periodically, I will post classic articles that have helped individuals and are often requested or searched for. This is one that was very timely when written and still needs to be reflected upon.
As an industry we’ve created a semantic conundrum for ourselves. We interchange the usage of rewards and recognition as if they were identical twins. Ironically, in order to understand them both and use them better, we must decouple them and tease out their differences and learn the benefits each brings to the table. Learn from this Top 10 list and apply the insights you gain from it.
1. Rewards are tangible; Recognition is intangible. Whether tangible or monetary, rewards are always something you can touch and of a specific amount. Recognition is often invisible in nature and yet priceless in value. You can give recognition without giving a reward. You should never give a reward without giving recognition.
2. Rewards will always be transactional;Recognition should always be relational. Rewards are always if you do “X” then you’ll get “Y” in return. Recognition is so much more a relational exchange between people. Rewards are great for attracting people to an organization and recognition is perfect for keeping them.
3. Rewards are simply consumed;Recognition is mostly experienced. When you receive money or a gift it is usually spent, used up or somehow consumed until it ends. In contrast, recognition is a total immersion experience and a personal encounter of the best kind which can last forever. Carefully using both will help address the unique differences within all of us.
4. Rewards are transferable; Recognition is non-transferable.Rewards can be passed off from one person to another and are temporary in nature. Recognition cannot be removed from the person given to or exchanged and is quite permanent. Focus on achieving that kind of permanence through recognition while using the momentary impact possible through a tangible reward.
5. Rewards are certainly conditional;Recognition happens to be unconditional. Rewards are very dependent consequences based on certain terms or conditions. Recognition, however, tends to be more independent and not a fixed result of specific actions. It is blending rigidity with flexibility or at least knowing when to use one over the other.
6. Rewards are expected; Recognition is a surprise. It seems with rewards we go into a situation knowing that if we perform well we deserve the reward. With recognition, on the other hand, you totally have no idea until you unexpectedly receive it. Never let anyone down by not giving them a merited reward and learn to be spontaneous with appreciating and celebrating people every day.
7. Rewards are economical; Recognition is emotional. Rewards are a prudent use of resources in the whole economy of production, distribution and income. Recognition contrasts as a psychological and emotional event, a felt phenomenon. Remember that performance may reign but feelings rule!
8. Rewards are outcome driven; Recognition is focused on behaviors. Rewards are used to reinforce the occurrence of achieved results. Recognition can happen anytime someone notices positive behaviors of another. People want to know how they are doing before the end result is achieved.
9. Rewards are fixed; Recognition is flowing. Rewards are fixed and determined based on desired performance and the expected returns. Recognition is free flowing from one person to another and expanded upon as shared by others. Know when each has their place and use each of them wisely.
10. Rewards are impersonal; Recognition is personal. Rewards have little human dimension based on their tangible, contractual arrangement, even when given to someone. Recognition differs because it’s purely human connection celebrating people for who they are and what they do. This is where the giving of rewards can be made much more personable by giving recognition too.
Previously published by the author in Incentive Magazine as well as in this blog.
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.
One of my most exciting accomplishments has been working with Dr. Charles Scherbaum from Baruch College, SUNY. Together, we examined the various behaviors and attitudes associated with giving meaningful and effective recognition. Then we conducted the content validity research for our Recognition Skills Assessment® and we found out some very interesting results.
We enlisted recognition subject matter experts to score the level of importance for each behavior and attitude on a Likert scale. They did the same action for scoring the level of impact they felt these behaviors and attitudes had on people and performance.
The outcome of our studies showed very different perspectives for giving effective recognition than I had imagined. From what we learned, I can give you the top five essential actions and attitudes needed for giving effective recognition.
If there is one major thing that will help propel recognition forward, it’s having your senior leaders aligned with your recognition strategy.
As a manager and leader of recognition in your organization, your role is to help get your executive sponsor to agree to your recognition strategy and plans, and then assist you with how best to execute it.
These are some thoughts and practical steps you can take to get your recognition champion aligned on recognition.
Understanding the frequency with which different types of recognition typically occur will help guide your usage of recognition programs and planning to make other forms of recognition happen. These are the elements that you must teach others, too. Then they will use your recognition programs wisely and practice recognition giving more often.
This is important to remember because each person at work has different expectations of how often they think other people should recognize them. So, there is also a frequency preference to contend with for every employee.
Let me give you an example from a healthcare organization that I surveyed to look at the frequency of recognition and how their employees felt about it.
I sat in an employee recognition session at the IMA Summit last week at the Snowbird, Utah resort. A participant I know shared their experience with the group that opened my eyes to a very important point of view.
You can sit down with each of your employees and ask them questions about their recognition preferences. Your online recognition and reward programs may automate the entry of recognition choices and how they prefer to be recognized. You can do this with onboarding or any time during their career.
However, what this individual raised was a critical point. Employees’ recognition preferences are not static.
Clearly inform leaders, managers, and employees of each program offering in your recognition and reward platform.
Unfortunately, not everyone uses all of your recognition programs well. Communicate and educate about program options and their benefits continually.
Sometimes, there’s a mindset that rewards are recognition. When this happens, people give rewards out too freely when expressions of recognition are better suited. And the inverse is also true. If an employee truly excels and goes above and beyond and merits a reward, they end up receiving recognition instead and might feel deflated and unvalued.
When you are dealing with online recognition and reward programs, you must inform everyone what they have available to them.