Why Don’t You Have A Recognition Strategy?

You know how surprised I am that the percentage of organizations with a written recognition strategy has actually dropped from 55 percent back in 2017 down to 49 percent in 2019.

I guess the question remains to be answered why this is. And while WorldatWork never asked respondents to answer why they had a recognition strategy or not, the issue needs to be answered. 

I won’t pretend to read people’s minds, but I can tell you from organizations I have subsequently worked with, why they didn’t have a recognition strategy before I worked with them. If you don’t have a recognition strategy, you just might relate with them. 

Check out some reasons below that organizations might give for why they don’t have a recognition strategy. 

No Clue Where To Begin 

There are only a few people who have gone to business school. And even fewer who have specialized enough to conduct a business strategy session for their organization. 

Not having any formal training in strategizing certainly stops people in their tracks. And if you have those skills, are you able to apply them towards creating an employee recognition strategy, which is an even rarer commodity of knowledge and experience.

As author and professor of strategy, Richard Rumelt, writes, “the core of strategy work is always the same: discovering the critical factors in a situation and designing a way of coordinating and focusing actions to deal with those factors.” 

Here are four previous posts to guide you on creating a recognition strategy, that I hope will help you: 

1. How To Write the Best Recognition Strategy – Part 1

2. How To Write the Best Recognition Strategy – Part 2

3. How To Write the Best Recognition Strategy – Part 3

4. How To Write the Best Recognition Strategy – Part 4 

No Focus On What Matters 

Getting strategic about any endeavour requires a keen focus on the subject at hand. Since we are talking about employee recognition, you had better focus on all aspects of employee recognition practices and recognition programs. 

What is interesting behind the findings from the WorldatWork research, is that of those 49 percent of organizations with a written recognition strategy, they aligned nearly 100 percent with their organization’s business strategy. 

Interesting that those who saw the importance of employee recognition knew that they could leverage it to optimize the various strategic initiatives their organization had. 

Consider reading How To Stay Focused on Recognition if this is an area of concern. 

As American actor, Mike Hawkins once said, “You don’t get results by focusing on results. You get results by focusing on the actions that produce results.” A solid recognition strategy includes the plans and objectives for the future of recognition and the tactics for getting there.

Not Knowing The Benefits 

It’s true. You don’t really know the benefits of something until you have one. If you don’t have a written recognition strategy already, you’ll simply be content as you are with managing recognition in your organization the way you’ve always done. 

And you will keep operating the same old way, not knowing how successful you could be if you had plans to elevate the potential of your recognition programs. 

A recognition strategy enables leaders throughout your organization to know the potential gained from using recognition strategically. It also provides actionable tactics to use recognition practically in a more effective and meaningful way. 

This is what we all want. A recognition strategy lays this all out for you. 

No Consequence For Not Having One 

Another reason that recognition program owners might not have a recognition strategy is that there is no consequence for not having one. 

If no one is expecting one, then why bother. 

Senior leaders endorsed the budget you have for the various informal and formal recognition programs you recommended because they know leading organizations have them. But those same leaders will want to know what your plans are for achieving success with your programs, and they will hold you accountable for results. And the time will come that if you really want leader “buy in” then having a strategy will cement the deal. Otherwise, they may cut your funding or it will disappear altogether.

Here are other ways you may excuse yourself from creating a recognition strategy. 

Read: Why People Don’t Do What You Want Them To 

A recognition strategy holds you accountable for recognition happening throughout the organization. A recognition strategy also makes all of your leaders responsible for engaging recognition in their daily practices and lifting the employee experience.

No Real Prioritization of Recognition 

Unfortunately, employee recognition is often one of many areas of responsibility that someone in human resources has on their plate. Their titles will often include areas such as employee experience, employee engagement, total rewards and benefits, culture, and talent management. 

Whether you can ever get one person handling recognition in your organization might be a miracle, yet it is still something to shoot for. However, you should at least give equal time to all of your areas of responsibility. Then, when it is right, you may have to prioritize blocks of time to work solely on creating a recognition strategy. 

As Stephen R. Covey often said, “We must never be so busy to take time to sharpen the saw.” That is what having a recognition strategy will do for you. By taking the time to create a recognition strategy and plan, you’ll be in better shape to cut down the organizational “trees” affecting everyone. 

No Time To Develop One

Similar to prioritization, you might say that your time and that of other leaders who would participate, costs time, and time costs money. Which is true, except for one thought. Instead of thinking of your recognition strategy as a cost to develop, turn your perspective around and think of it as an investment.  

The process we have developed for creating a written recognition strategy takes a full day or two-half days. You would come away with an articulated recognition purpose and philosophy statement. And you would have a one-year plan outlining your prioritized focus points and accompanying objectives, all targeted towards achieving your one-year short-term goal. 

You will find making a strategy session happen is a worthwhile use of your time. It allows you to get recognition on track and help your organization reinforce many of the strategic initiatives in your business strategy.

No Desire To Improve Recognition 

Finally, you may have no desire to even want to improve employee recognition. 

People recognize and applaud you for the things you are doing now, and you don’t want to lose that prestige. You might even get more thrills from putting out the internal fires that currently plague your organization. 

The irony is that having a recognition strategy gets everyone in the limelight by being recognized, for which you will receive accolades for making it happen. Knowing that this work will benefit so many people should give you powerful feelings to make a recognition strategy happen.  

Recognition is the universal language that brings the inner warmth of pride from the praise, acknowledgment, and appreciation that comes to people’s lives through the practices and programs emanating from a recognition strategy.  

Plan on creating a recognition strategy soon if you do not already have one. 

Recognition Reflection: If you don’t have a written recognition strategy, what do you think is holding you and your organization back from creating one?

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.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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