Why Recognition Needs To Be More Strategic Where You Work

One trend I am seeing with different clients over the last two years is the development of written recognition strategies. 

Organizations are leveraging a tighter mandate on recognition, especially when coupled with rewards in their programs. 

I’ve seen programs where lower-level reward amounts, whether point-based or gift cards, are opened up in global recognition and reward programs for employees to reward their peers. This can create problems when the cost of living is low in some countries and employees use the rewards more as a make up for lack of salary increases, rather than rewarding above and beyond actions. And some staff get into a tit-for-tat of “I’ll reward you if you’ll reward me” behaviors when controls or approvals are not present. 

So, why should recognition be more strategic in your organization? 

Why Recognition Should Be Strategic 

You need a written recognition strategy because it sets the direction for what recognition should look like and establishes the priorities for making recognition work properly in your organization. 

Once you define your strategic direction with a recognition purpose and philosophy statement and with the objectives for needed changes, you can get everyone on board at all levels, and in all departments, aligned with achieving your organization’s recognition specific goals. 

Merging and Centralizing Programs

I have seen horror stories when I prepare to assess an organization’s current state with recognition practices and programs. They and I end up finding tens of rogue recognition programs in existence, some of which the person(s) responsible for recognition did not know about.

Multiple recognition and reward programs across an organization happen because there were no well-functioning programs in existence that they felt they could use. Leaders in departments went ahead with budget monies to set up their own programs. All operating in isolation from other departments.

Creating a recognition strategy allows you to merge programs that duplicate one another for the same common purpose. It also allows centralization to better manage and measure how each manager, and each department, does with recognizing their employees in meaningful ways.

United Organizational Approach

Once you have a recognition strategy, you’ll have all leaders and departments on the same page. Recognition is better understood, and rewards will are used appropriately and within agreed upon criteria.

You can send communications of recognition messaging and plans out organization-wide to every employee, manager, and leader. The same message around the importance of recognition. Providing tips and ideas on how to give better recognition.

Design and develop education and training that is available to all parties 24/7. If you have a staff meeting where you want to reinforce recognition practices, you can have the content you need ready and available to you. Learning and development folks can be ready for you whether a lunch and learn or part of your leadership development program.

These are the kinds of benefits accrued from a recognition strategy where all competencies and capabilities are addressed.

Keeping Recognition Accountable 

Remember those lone-gun recognition programs running rampant across the organization? No one was overseeing them like a strategic eye can. With a consolidated and centralized set of strategic recognition programs, you have better oversight to ensure leaders encourage better use of the programs in keeping with established policies and procedures.

You can customize reports and draw on analytics to see how well people are recognized and rewarded. Analytics allow you to find emerging trends, predict risks and growth areas, and how recognition is moving performance.

Ability To Mesh With Strategy 

By having a solid, written recognition strategy, you get everyone on the same page and give leadership the tools they need to make decisions. Your recognition practices and programs are better aligned, and your planning becomes easier to map out. 

Then, if a leader or department strongly feels they need a new program, your strategy becomes the hub or trunk of the tree for this new program to branch out from. These emerging programs will always hold true to the core of your strategy, and the alignment will be firm.

Everyone Knows About Recognition

When you craft a written recognition strategy, you will be one of nearly 50 percent of organizations that have one. Almost all the organizations that have a recognition strategy align with their business strategy, and that’s a good thing for elevating the importance of employee recognition.

Getting your recognition strategy down on paper allows you and your colleagues to communicate the purpose and goals of recognition in your organization. Leaders and employees will know what recognition is really all about and will volunteer to assist you in implementing your strategy and plans.

A recognition strategy enables you to facilitate gaining leadership commitment for the direction of recognition goals and the investment of time, money, and resources, to make recognition a central part of your organization. You have a vision and a plan, and leaders need that.

Work hard to create a recognition strategy if you do not already have one. Pick up the one you already have and actively work on achieving the goals in your plan. Communicate out your recognition strategy if most people don’t already know about it.

Your recognition strategy should be a living document that changes over time to make recognition a better way of life in your organization.

Recognition Reflection: Do you already have a written recognition strategy? 

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