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You Don’t Spell Recognition: PROGRAM

You Don’t Spell Recognition: P R O G R A M

Recognition: knowledge or feeling that someone or something present has been encountered before; special notice or attention

Program: a plan or system under which action may be taken toward a goal

I have been reading and hearing a lot about rewards and recognition programs lately. As with many things HR related, it seems to be one of the trendy topics again. Most often, I hear recognition linked with some sort of formal program a company has to put together with defined criteria, specific examples and, GASP, processes! Far too often I have seen the simple act of a manager or peer wanting to recognize one of their co-workers or employees for a job well done, or some other act benefiting the team, but the process they have to go through to do so is so cumbersome that it causes the opposite effect – that is, no recognition occurs. The problem I have is that there shouldn’t be a program that dictates the how and when and gives you a procedure for how you recognize someone. In essence, you have boiled recognition down to a “if this…then that” formula. An act that is very personal becomes very mechanical and procedural and the desired outcome of having someone feel valued and given notice or attention becomes lost in the bureaucracy.

Thank youPlease don’t take this to mean that I think companies shouldn’t have some program that generally governs rewards and recognition criteria/budgets or that captures peer recognition, what I am getting at is that you are fighting a losing battle if you have to develop a program in order for recognition to simply occur. The reality is that this is all an aspect of organizational culture. It is up to organizational leaders to establish the type of culture where recognition occurs. In essence, it is part of your organizational DNA. Contrary to popular belief, recognition does not have to be pizza parties, concert tickets, hotel stays, etc. Too often we blur the lines between recognition and reward…hence the reason we use pizza parties to reward for a job well done vs. starting out by recognizing for the job well done.

What I am suggesting is that we start to gear our organizational thinking more towards recognition as an ACT, not a program. If we, as leaders, focus more on the act of recognizing our employees we will all experience higher retention rates and engagement levels. At the end of the day, employees want to know that their company and their manager are aware that they exist. They want to be recognized for their contribution towards their organization’s success. It really is as simple as that. The basic rules of engagement for employee recognition should be:
1) Timely – when you as a leader see something you want to recognize your employee for, just do it. Don’t wait for the next staff meeting, or employee social event. Just do it.
2) Sincere – when you thank an employee for a job well done….mean it. Don’t compare/qualify it to previous work they have done or compare to another employee, simply thank them for their efforts and comment that the goal/project, etc. wouldn’t have been completed without their contribution.
3) Autocratic – the manager can recognize who, how, when they want. They don’t need approval to recognize for a job well done. There is no process for saying thank you, for sending an employee home early as recognition for their efforts or for giving them a day off. The manager/leader has the ability to make this happen….which then makes the act of recognition timely (see point #1).
To sum up, recognition is an act not an event. It is either part of your (organizational) DNA or it isn’t. It is something you do, not a program that you follow. I believe we can all be better leaders by recognizing our employees if we employ these simple rules and practices and stop thinking of recognition as a program that we must implement and adhere to.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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One Response

  1. […] likes to feel that their hard work is appreciated and noticed, otherwise, what’s the point? Scott was right when he said that recognition needs to be in your organization’s DNA in order for it’s results to be successful. So don’t just get a program, get with it! Start […]

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