Many companies have recognition programs dying on the vine and not producing anything. If they only planned right, results would be inevitable.
After assessing many companies to determine where they really are with their recognition programs, it becomes very evident many organizations just wake up one day and say, “I think we should have a recognition program.” Trouble is, when recognition programs begin this way, they tend to have a short shelf life and end up needing full resuscitation.
Without an overall strategy around recognition, no thought is given to such questions as why a company is even initializing recognition, what everyone means by recognition, or what the objectives are in the first place for using recognition.
A Defining Purpose for Recognition
So, one has to begin with defining the overall vision and purpose for various levels of recognition; i.e., formal, informal, and everyday. Do you want to improve performance? Can business strategy objectives improve through the use of incentives or recognition? How are people feeling, and is employee morale and engagement high or low? What is the right way to celebrate achievements and honor those who contribute so much? These and many other questions generated from each organization will steer the strategic direction.
Using internal assessment metrics available within an organization generates solid criteria for improving recognition through a strategic versus a programmatic approach. Strategically, the focus can move to how can we increase or improve employee engagement satisfaction scores, specific recognition measures, customer satisfaction percentages, current recognition nomination numbers and usage rates, points, cards and gift redemption rates, etc.
Recognition truly becomes strategic when you can match up recognition activities with the core business strategy. Recognition then becomes a powerful tool for management to use in reinforcing and rewarding achievement of key performance indicators by which your organization is measured. From a balanced scorecard approach, the focus areas can be aligned with recognition quite easily. Quantifiable targets on the business strategy lead to plans in which performance-based recognition programs can be incorporated. Whether it’s sales performance, reducing turnover, improving customer satisfaction scores, or just impacting specific financial outcomes, recognition sits in the toolbox waiting to be used.
With a definitive agreement on what a company means by recognition and how it is clearly delineated from rewards and benefits, one can look at creating a recognition system with various formal and informal recognition programs to serve the needs of recognizing, encouraging, and even rewarding the achievement of many business goals.
Meaningful recognition practices and effective programs cannot be mandated from on high, be maintained by a charismatic leader, or kept alive just because it’s a good thing to do. Real recognition is driven on purpose through the organization’s vision and mission and the underlying values and principles that show people they are worthy of being appreciated for who they are and for what they do. Respect and caring, for example, are core values which when lived consistently, build credibility in the eyes of employees, who then know they can trust those around them and what they say and do. Recognition is perceived as sincere and genuine because it is founded on positive relationships.
Planned and Implemented
An effective and efficient recognition strategy moves quantifiable goals to the tactical side of implementation. Long-term goals need champions and key individuals to carry them forward over time, so measures like engagement scores show incremental improvements over time. Short-term goals work best with a small team of dedicated people who can create immediate action and traction within 24 hours. Getting managers to give more frequent and genuine thanks can be doable enough to achieve within a 90-day time frame. Most often, players on these teams work on recognition over and above their regular job duties, so the reward for them is seeing change actually happen.
Successful implementation requires clear expectations with measurable objectives. It also requires regular and consistent feedback on progress so course corrections can be made sooner rather than later.
Recognition works wonders if planned to produce results. Without any strategy, recognition gets relegated to just the “nice to do” category. With a strong strategy, recognition is a “must do” component. When you start right, you are bound to end right, too.