Why Leaders Must Create a Recognition Program Framework for Success

I have judged nominations submitted to Recognition Professionals International (RPI) to merit their Best Practices Awards for the last 15 years. When you get to see what organizations are doing to comply with RPI’s seven best practice standards, you learn a great deal.

One thing I have observed of late is that leaders are getting more involved with their organization’s recognition strategies. They are recommending various forms of recognition program frameworks, or models, to ensure their recognition programs are successful.

Let me explain what a recognition program framework could look like.

Understanding Recognition Frameworks

A Recognition Program Framework is a basic structure, plan, or system, outlining the various recognition programs present in an organization. Companies align their organizational culture and their people and strategic business goals with these recognition frameworks.

RPI has a basic recognition framework with its Three-Tiered Pyramid Model, with a foundation of Day-to-Day Recognition, Informal Recognition in the middle, and Formal Recognition at the very top. The number of employees potentially affected, and the frequency of occurrence of recognition, is higher at the bottom and reduces in percentages as you move upward.

Recognition Professionals International – 3 Tiered Recognition Pyramid

Keep in mind that a framework is a skeletal structure designed to support the overall recognition strategy. You find that they often depict the Recognition Program Frameworks in various model formats or shapes. Other times, they are simply linear steps.

WorldatWork has their own Total Rewards Model or framework that includes compensation, well-being, benefits, development, and recognition.

WorldatWork – Total Rewards Model

Benefits of Recognition Frameworks 

Having a framework allows you to identify and assign all of your programs to a specific area within the framework. You can use this to communicate to others what types of programs you have, the reach they likely will have, and how often recognition is expected to happen. You can also describe the purpose and cultural believes driving programs in each section of the framework.

Frameworks allow you to design your recognition programs in organizational, operational, and functional points of reference. They can help you incorporate and align your recognition programs with your organizational culture and your goals, processes, tasks, and eventual results. 

You can integrate some recognition framework models into a total rewards framework, too. You might see other layouts that combine maturity models or even balanced scorecards. Laid out in these tabled, flowing, designed ways enable you and your leaders to see the big picture when launching programs. It assists you to show graphically how you will develop and improve your programs and visually shows leaders what needs to be done next. 

The trend I am seeing is that senior and executive leadership teams are gravitating to using frameworks and models for employee recognition practices and programs. I do not have permission to share with you any examples of proprietary recognition frameworks. However, I hope I can describe some of them to suggest how they could look.

I have seen graphically designed Greek-looking temples with their values engraved on pillars standing on the foundation of recognition programs, which hold up the organizational strategic objectives. Other models address aligning their performance-based results and values-based behaviors they want to recognize. A tiered recognition framework allows you to identify where your existing recognition programs fit in and whether anything is missing. Other organizations simply use a colorful table format to outline their recognition priorities.

Leaders will use these models when presenting about, and when reviewing, the existing and proposed new recognition programs. They are referenced in holding all leaders accountable for recognition giving.

They are something that leaders can visualize and hang their hat on. These imaged renditions can help explain recognition in your organization when onboarding new staff. You’ll find them very helpful when conducting leadership development programs. And they’ll put you into the realm of best practice organizations simply by creating a recognition framework that fits your organization. 

Recognition Reflection: Does your organization have a recognition framework?

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.

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