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
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
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
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
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.
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
showing care and concern for our fellow employees an act of recognition or
something completely different?
my point of view, I have defined recognition as mostly an
intangible expression of acknowledgement and valuing of an individual or team,
for their positive behaviours, their personal effort, or contributions they
this definition, recognition occurs because:
(1) Some positive action or specific
positive behaviors have occurred by an employee on the job.
(2) You feel their actions merit
you acknowledging and valuing them for who they are or what they do.
(3) And, unlike rewards, you are not
expecting the employee to do something in return just because you’ve recognized
now, in response to a recent question asked of me, do you give recognition to
people because they’ve experienced a positive life event or perhaps they’ve had
some serious challenges?
recognition training was always a knee jerk reaction to low scores on
recognition related questions on the latest employee engagement survey results
when I first started speaking and training on recognition skills.
recognition training is much more planned and strategic as human resource
leaders and organizational development specialist have grown in awareness of
recognition’s role and realize a lot of us need skills training.
The good news is
that giving meaningful, memorable, and motivational recognition can be
learning how to give recognition has not always been at the forefront of most
organizations’ learning curriculum.
companies launch recognition programs and they don’t exactly light up the sky
and shine, as they should.
For a variety of
reasons you might not have gotten the engagement and traction you thought you
would when you designed and developed your organization’s recognition program.
You thought you got everyone’s input and their buy in, and
foundational things can stop recognition program engagement whether it’s access
to technology, the nature of the work of most employees, or simply a
lack of respect thinking employee recognition is unimportant.
But let’s look
at what needs to be in place to engage your managers and employees with your
employee recognition programs.
An area of concern when conducting workshops around learning recognition-giving skills is ensuring learners will apply the learned skills back on the job.
Below are my recommendations I use with participants in my learning sessions.
Set up your workshop or seminar session so that attendees sit in table groups with fellow learners. Where possible, try to get a diversity of attendees at each table so they’re not sitting with everyone they know from their own department or work team.
Towards the end of the training session the final activity is choosing a realistic and manageable goal to implement a recognition specific skill or principle learned from the session over the next 30-days. The expectation is that you will follow up with each group’s participants to gather team results and compile a transfer of learning report.
This is the best way to get people to apply the recognition skills they learn in training into their jobs. Consider the following steps in making a transfer of learning a success.
Your employees need to receive clear expectations from your leaders to take ownership for learning for how they can give more effective and meaningful recognition to everyone they work with.
You won’t be able to do this well on your own. But with solid leadership support you’ll be successful.
I had thought about personalization before especially when I think of how to recognize people. With learning about giving effective recognition skills, I can make assumptions about how personalization could work there too. But I had never thought about the term individualization with learning.