Why Integrating Recognition Into Your Leadership Development Is So Important

One area repeatedly comes up weak when I assess many organizations on their recognition practices and programs. That missing element is recognition, and they barely touched upon it in their leadership development curriculum. 

True, they may or may not have online education on effective recognition practices. And they might have a few tutorials on how to use their various recognition programs. 

But with educating and training leaders on effective recognition giving, the well is often dry.

Observations of Leadership Development Curriculum 

Here are some things I have seen when evaluating employee recognition from a leadership development perspective. 

I have seen organizations pay for library subscription of multiple online learning videos. The library content covers various management and leadership related topics in video and other digital formats.

Some of these learning modules are theoretical, and others are much more practical. However, when you examine the learning module reach, frequency of views, and averages, you find that very few leaders are taking in this education. When interviewing leaders, you learn that many do not even know what subjects are available in the library. They cannot tell you whether there is any recognition specific content. 

Other organizations have learning development curriculum that cover broad topics that summarize specific leadership skills they will need on the job. Here, recognition may get addressed under employee motivation, employee engagement, or lost under the heading of total rewards. However, no one professes confidence and capabilities to give meaningful and effective recognition afterward. 

And no one is setting expectations for this content to be consumed and applied. So, it all sits there unused, with no one improving from it.

Encouraging Emerging Leaders As Recognition Professionals 

I have written before on the benefits of enlisting emerging leaders in a program of self-development regarding employee recognition. A team of emerging leaders can explore developing a recognition strategy and looking at the viability of various employee recognition practices and programs. Executive leaders can task them with projecting the potential ROI from various recognition and reward programs in creating savings or profits and improving strategic people and performance initiatives.

This group of soon-to-be-leaders will become powerful advocates for the recognition cause with the leaders they report to. They will be strong representatives for giving Real Recognition™ the right way wherever they work in the organization. 

Enlisting Promoted Leaders To Become Great Recognizers 

And then there are the newly hired or promoted to leader position employees. These new leaders are prime for getting the direction they need to give meaningful and effective recognition to staff. 

Their onboarding and leadership development requires clear expectations of what the organization wants them to do. Hopefully, they will learn some basic recognition principles and practices to use right away. It will be helpful, if they don’t already know, to learn how to use the existing online and formal recognition programs.

All leaders should receive feedback on their recognition skills from one-on-one meetings with staff, as well as pulse check and annual engagement surveys.

Give them guidelines and budget parameters so they know what they may do. New leaders need written and online resources to know how to give recognition that is personalized and timely. They can provide educational courses and online learning modules to assist them when they are ready to develop their skills. 

Waking Up Existing Leaders To Recognition’s Potential

Leaders who have been in their role for many years may not have had leadership development programs that zeroed in on memorable recognition skills. They may need a refresher to bring them up to speed on understanding the differences between recognition and rewards. 

All leaders need to be held accountable for giving meaningful recognition to staff. There should be consequences, such as creating a recognition development plan, when employee feedback suggests a need for improvement. 

There is ample research available to show the benefits of social reinforcement, recognition, and rewards. Existing leaders may not have seen evidence of the outcomes of recognition and rewards on people and performance. Ensure that monthly leadership forums address subjects like employee recognition. 

Consider how you can improve recognition practices through your leadership development.

Recognition Reflection: How has your leadership development curriculum integrated recognition practices into it?

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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