Do your employees know the difference between recognition and rewards? Are managers and supervisors consistently praising and recognizing their direct reports for doing good work on a regular basis? Is peer-to-peer recognition happening through your social recognition newsfeed and face-to-face?
If you had a “no” to any one of those questions, you likely need to send out recognition messaging more often.
It might well be time to communicate what recognition is and why it is so important. You may need to tell everyone how easily they can recognize one another. Show them how to give meaningful and effective recognition.
I have written before about the importance of creating a Recognition Communications Calendar to support your recognition programs and practices. However, I was not as clear as I should have been, about what to include in your advanced communication planning.
You have to be strategic about the recognition messaging you want to convey throughout the company. Here are some quick thoughts to guide you.
Calendar Is For Scheduling
Some organizations have limited the calendar piece of a recognition communications calendar, to being solely about calendaring and promoting events. Certainly, it is nice to be reminded of the seasonal holidays and events that happen each year so that we respect our employees.
There are also special events, historic anniversaries, and worldwide celebrations if you want to remember them. In addition, check out the professional associations and their respective sponsored weeks and months, to highlight and promote awareness of these professions and what they contribute in our lives.
These themed and recurring holidays may show respect for a particular group of people or profession, but they don’t necessarily transmit a positive message around employee recognition.
When I am talking about a recognition communications calendar, my intent is to convey the image of having an editorial content calendar for the entire year, targeting the topic of employee recognition. Your recognition communications calendar should be focused solely on reinforcing the need for giving recognition and educating people on how to give recognition.
Sure, it can also promote your reoccurring annual, and other scheduled frequency of recognition related events – like an annual excellence award ceremony or monthly career milestone events. But make sure you make the key purpose of your calendar about planning and scheduling recognition specific communications.
Recognition Communications Planning
Plan out your year with the specific messages about recognition you want emphasized each month. Utilize all the communication channels available to you. Don’t hesitate to repurpose recognition messaging delivered in one medium – such as first in print – and then deliver it in a different communication method like video, later on.
Consider the following areas as prime communication focus points for your recognition messaging.
Ensure your organization has crafted a recognition purpose statement with senior leader involvement. This document needs to articulate the “why” behind the reason for recognition for everyone who works at your company. Spell out the beliefs and philosophy you want everyone to adhere to.
Imagine periodically sharing this same statement in different ways throughout the year. Your senior leaders, as well as frontline employees, can be the communicators of your purpose. Over time, management and staff would see recognition as being important and will know why they should all be giving it.
Talk about different principles that are fundamental to recognition, such as respect, equality, openness, fairness, diversity, inclusion, overcoming bias, transparency, justification, and other social science and human principles of living, and working, with people.
Sometimes, you have to go a little deeper on a topic, especially when the subject of recognition can appear to be so basic.
For example, I heard from one person who doesn’t give recognition to others because no one has recognized them. This was a candid truth in the life experience of an employee. Messages need to go out to them, and other employees in the same situation, to recognize other people anyway. Acknowledge and respect their pain and loss of recognition that affected them emotionally. However, invite them to let this absence of recognition motivate them to give recognition to others versus withholding it from people.
Truly, too many people don’t know how to effectively recognize one another in a meaningful way. Show them how to give recognition by capturing and retelling the stories of exemplary recognition experiences from your employees. Do this in print form and in audio and video interviews. Invite everyone to share the great things going on at work. Solicit examples of how someone made an employee’s day by giving them sincere praise and expressing authentic appreciation to them.
Teach them how to go beyond trite phrases to giving well thought out and meaningful recognition. Demonstrate the need to remove distractions when telling an employee how much you appreciate their exceptional display of customer service. Explain to people how they need to connect the dots for employees with the recognition they give. Deliver greater job meaning to employees by telling them how their actions made a difference to customers, peers, or to the company.
Companies can have a wide array of online, programmatic, recognition offerings. These programs can include the standard career milestone program, peer-to-peer social recognition programs, as well as performance-based reward and recognition programs.
Build in communications that explain and reviews each of your programs. Describe the company expectations with each of the programs. Provide micro-learning tutorials on how to best use each of your programs for best effect in different situations.
Recognition messaging can flag supervisors, managers, and leaders, as to where, and when, planned curriculum, leadership development programs, and online learning content are located.
The communication emails, employee newsletters, your website development, and meeting agenda items can all steer individuals to where they can learn how to give meaningful recognition to people every day.
Of course, employees will need to be invited to different formal and informal recognition events throughout the year. Give plenty of advanced promotion for these events and provide an annual event calendar that people can download. You may be creating the invitations to these events and other marketing collateral.
Some awards will require a nomination process with either digital or paper-based, form submissions. Provide checklists and instructional aids and even screen capture tutorials on how to complete the nominations. Make it an easy process and teach people how to write an effective nomination.
You’ll find that employees and managers alike are eager to learn about giving more meaningful, memorable, and motivational, recognition and appreciation.
One useful strategy is to develop a page or resource section on your recognition platform or intranet site that provides a ton of resources on the subject of employee recognition.
With your email broadcasts, create campaigns to direct managers and employees to visit this useful content and practical education that you have on your website. Create presentation tips and guidelines for managers to know how to make formal award presentations. Provide handy checklists and cheat sheets that can be downloaded, or saved to file, for managers and employees to learn how to give recognition better.
Make the resource section as interactive as possible. Employees can submit an interesting book recommendation that helped them give more effective recognition and feedback to others. Develop a series of helpful video content using your exemplary managers and leaders to teach what they do to be great recognizers of employees. Have artistic employees submit design suggestions for electronic and printed cards for expressing thanks, appreciation, and other celebratory messages.
All of a sudden, your recognition communications calendar has a wealth of helpful ideas to consider throughout the year. You can determine the frequency and methods of communication. My suggestion is to send out content with at least one recognition message per month.
Make recognition messaging a priority for you’re your communication planning.
Recognition Reflection: What was the last recognition related content you recall seeing and in what format was it delivered?
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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