Why The Best Recognition Strategy Can Still Be a Surprise

Okay, so you’ve written your recognition strategy. You have a vision and purpose statement for recognition practices and programs. You even have a plan drawn up with focus areas and objectives to see things implemented. 

Do you just launch the thing and see your recognition strategy unfold? The details drawn up do not mean it will accomplish your strategy as is. 

Life often has surprises in store for us. Even a recognition strategy can have surprises, too. 

A Typical Recognition Strategy Scenario 

More often than not, the people implementing a recognition strategy are not the ones who developed it. In addition, you will probably find different teams working on specific focus areas to make them happen. 

For example, you may have a focus area in your recognition strategy that looks at creating a Communication Plan. The recognition strategy group may have outlined objectives for this focus area, such as,  

  • Determine timelines and the frequency of communication about employee recognition.
  • Identify the audience groups we are planning on targeting. 
  • Find out the available communication methods your organization uses. 
  • Survey target audience groups to determine their preferred communication methods. 
  • Seek out from leaders, recognition program owners, and learning and development, the key recognition messages desired to be communicated and plan for what calendar times.
  • Select various ways to solicit feedback from different target groups.
  • Evaluate feedback results and determine the next steps to improve communicating about recognition. 

And then the implementation team, who hopefully has a communication specialist as a member, takes hold of this goal and tries to make it work. The intentions of the recognition strategy team were great. Now the reality of the real world may take a different course. 

Let’s look at the first 90-day action plan for looking at the recognition Communication Plan. The team figures out there are newsletters that already go out 26 times a year to both leaders and employees. But they learn that both leaders and employees rarely click on the links to articles summarized in the newsletter. Surveys and interviews with staff showed it can feel like one more thing to read that people don’t have time for.

Remaining Flexible To New Ways

The implementation team wants to implement their strategic goal as close to what the strategic team had written up. However, the result may not end up as intended. 

Team members must trust each other and communicate effectively with one another on their findings and recommendations. You must empower these employees to make the best decision possible. Teach them how to be agile and flexible in their approach to the actions needed. Key to adapting the original goal is always being true to the Communication Plan mandate.  

  • Will the revised approach still fulfill the overall one-year goal? 
  • Does the outcome align will and follow the purpose and philosophy statements created?

Deviation May Be A Better Direction  

We know the Communication implementation team will keep the recognition strategy’s vision and purpose in mind. They also understand the intent and direction that the Communication Plan team had in mind.

They have identified the most viable communication tool as the newsletters to two target audiences. But they may not be the most effective medium to get the recognition message out to people. 

Research shows that employee productivity increases in organizations where employees are highly connected. It seems the newsletters are not connecting people. 

The implementation team brainstorms ideas, researches online, and seeks feedback directly from each audience group. 

From this investigation, the implementation team decides to use video vignettes to share principles and recognition ideas. They also recommend videos giving voice to leaders and employees. Each can share what they do to give recognition and openly contribute how well recognized they feel. 

They decided to still use the newsletters. Instead of links to articles they would now include links to these videos. They suggested displaying these videos on the intranet web portal. They would also show videos on LED screens in high traffic places like main lobbies, cafeterias, and other waiting areas. 

Strategic Surprises Bring Great Results

It was not what the strategic team had written underneath the category of Communication Plan. Their best attempt was what those assigned to this team could generate.

When the goal moves to an implementation team, they have a better chance to make the original goal just right. Some fact gathering and research may cause them to see that the first ideas may not fit so well. 

Creativity, flexibility, agile thinking, and actually doing, leads to the better solution. 

Yet, the ideas and plans recommended and worked on are simply a change from the original. Each implementation team can always check their work against the original plan. It must help achieve the big picture, the short-term objective of the one-year goal.

While the final product may be a surprise from the original, it must still be strategically in order. 

Recognition Reflection: How flexible is your recognition strategy to go in a different direction?

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