Brackets Are Hard; Recognition is Easy

March 28, 2017
| ByMike Ryan

With March Madness heading into the Final Four most of us have given up on our brackets. Picking a champion across a sixty-four team field is not an easy task. There is, however, one consolidation. Even though brackets are hard, building a winning recognition strategy doesn’t have to be. Here are 5 tips to remember. Do them and you will have a winning recognition program all year round.

1. Align it to your mission and your culture.

To ensure that your program is as meaningful as it is motivating, make sure it is aligned with the values, goals, and priorities that matter most to your organization. The questions worth asking yourself here are: What does the company need to achieve and how do we want our people to achieve it? Setting goals and objectives will help to explain the “what,” while applauding the work of employees will help reinforce the importance of “how.”


2. Be as specific as possible.

 Two essential ingredients to improved organizational performance are “the understanding of purpose” and “the expectation of behavior.” The more precisely you can communicate both, the better traction you will experience across the entire enterprise. What do I mean by that? You have a mission statement and an

internal brand. Employees need to know how all of those attributes they hear about—qualities like teamwork; innovation and customer care—apply to them. They need to know how they translate to their individual job assignments. The more you can explain and illustrate them with meaningful descriptions and examples, the easier it will be for employees to embrace and apply them across their day-to-day work performance.

3. Open up recognition to everyone.

Descriptions and examples become more meaningful (not to mention more ubiquitous) when you open up recognition to all employees. Surprisingly, many companies still look at recognition as a top-down function. Did you know that less than half of all programs utilize peer-to-peer recognition? That’s a big mistake, especially for companies looking to capture the enthusiasm and loyalty of younger workers, many of whom value praise from a co-worker more so than from a senior executive.

4. Make it both timely and frequent.

Recognizing employees in a timely manner is important—and by that I mean very soon after they’ve done something noteworthy. Too often managers put off recognition. In fact, most never get around to it and when they finally do, it comes across as generic or insincere. Delay not only diminishes the motivational impact of recognition, it makes it difficult to create those tangible connections between expectation and action we discussed above. But what about frequency? That’s equally important. The HR Trend Institute notes that recurring recognition is a much more effective tool for reinforcing behavior and that consistent praise has a material effect on workforce performance.

5. Make it simple.

Why is recognition an afterthought at some companies? For recognition to truly be easy for both managers and employees you need to install a system that makes it so. Think about the actual experience across each and every stakeholder. Will it be seamless and intuitive? Will it help all users manage the process from start to finish with just a few clicks? Will it allow employees to give rewards as easily as they receive them? Will it track budgets and provide the types of reporting that managers at all levels need, to track the activity that concerns them? Most of all, will it be configurable enough to allow for program changes as market conditions warrant?

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