I’ve had two requests from clients from either side of the Atlantic ocean within the last two months, asking me to consult with them in helping their leaders give better and more frequent recognition.
It’s been fascinating to see organizational development folks and other leaders of various functional areas wanting to get their leaders on board with improving recognition.
Employee engagement and customer satisfaction scores were the trigger. These metrics were not the best and each client saw the correlation with their analytics and how a lack of recognition was a contributing cause.
In both companies they interviewed employees and identified ways they were not feeling appreciated and valued for their contributions on the job.
One of the companies went so far as to interview a sample of leaders who were doing well on employee engagement and customer satisfaction metrics.
What were they doing well?
They found great leaders demonstrated caring concern for most of their employees and were actively involved in acknowledging and praising their employees’ on the job.
These successful leaders knew how to make positive connections with their staff.
Focus on Knowledge and Skills
Too often we focus solely on awareness building and transfer of knowledge so people understand the “what” of recognition and address in general ways the “how” of giving better recognition.
With the one organization we completed working with I helped them also identify what their “why” was for recognition first.
Leaders need to know why recognition is important and why it is needed now.
It was also important to explain what recognition is and what it is not. Too often people confuse recognition with rewards and use the terms interchangeably in both their communication and practices. That was one of the objectives we educated their leaders on.
We identified the barriers that get in the way of leaders recognizing the people they work with. I dispelled those often “myth-like” reasons and gave them ways to overcome them in their work life.
And then came the clincher.
Each leader had to identify one of five suggested recognition practices that I taught them and personally commit to doing this single activity once a week over a one-month period.
What Do You Want Your Leaders To Do?
That’s the bottom-line to improving recognition through your leaders.
They have to take action.
You have to ask yourself and others responsible for leadership development, “What do you want your leaders to do?” What do you want them to stop doing, continue doing, and start doing.
And here’s the amazing thing about focusing on a key behavior.
The business outcome measures you desire will follow.
Is the one behavior you want leaders to do, to have more positive conversations with staff? Do you want them to refrain from using generic phrases like, “Great job!” or “Well done”? What about writing down some gratitude reflections before starting their day?
The behavior will be determined by going deeper on what’s stopping recognition from happening. It’s identifying the leading indicators for recognition in each organization and each group of leaders.
Then by focusing on the new behavior and creating a clear measure that is reported on daily or at least weekly, you will see outcomes like employee engagement and customer satisfaction measures improve too.
Call your leaders out and focus on getting them to do one practice to improve recognition.
Identify it. Learn it. Practice it. Report it. Measure it. Improve it.
Question: What stops your leaders from consistently recognizing their direct reports and staff?
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.