recognition by design: how to form great recognition habits

By in Appreciation, Employee Rewards Programs, and Recognition Strategies
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While leaders agree recognition for great work is a vital practice, many leaders fail to recognize their people consistently, or even if they do remember, fail to acknowledge their employees as well as they could. It’s time to start fulfilling this opportunity better, and to make recognition a habit you can maintain over time. To that end, here are a few suggestions:

Be Consistent

Like any desirable behavior, that which you do frequently becomes more natural and effective over time. What are the events that warrant an opportunity or even a responsibility for recognition? Career celebrations or other important dates certainly do, but what about noting exceptional day-to-day performance with weekly on-the-spot rewards, or creating surprise contests to acknowledge high achievers in an unexpected new way. If leaders are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to highlight great performance, they’ll create a culture of appreciation that becomes second nature. Everyone will benefit from this practice. 

Create A Plan

You wouldn’t run a marathon or scale a mountain without making a specific plan for the myriad tools and skills the feat will require. In the same way, work with your organization to create a plan for recognition that will be as meaningful as possible for all. Invite employees to participate in the planning as well, with suggestions for the kinds of recognition they believe their members will appreciate most.

Make It Memorable

As you query your employees, also make note of the recognitions they remember the most. Consider this aspect of appreciation as well: Why not go beyond the act of giving recognition by giving your employee a favorite memory as well? A surprise event—complete with unexpected guests who hold special meaning for the individual may go far, and may create a treasured memory not only for the person you honor but for others who attend or participate in the process as well. Be sure to have the video camera ready. If you are certain the person is receptive and willing, perhaps the recognition could even include a practical joke. Arriving to find an office set up backwards to acknowledge performance so great that it “turned back time,” could be a fun idea. One team acknowledged a leader who was known for his love of gummy bears with a 1 ½ pound gummy bear treat.

Make It Personal

The more personal an acknowledgement is to an individual’s tastes and personality, the more meaningful the recognition will be. For example, a personal memory book filled with letters from coworkers and friends will become a treasured possession for years to come. Incorporating photographs, favorite expressions, even secret jokes into the recognition will touch the heart of recipients and will also foster engagement by serving as a reminder of great friendships and good times in addition to high work performance.

Make It Epic

What could you do to recognize a key employee or leader that neither they nor anyone around them will ever forget? Create a movie? A special trip? A meaningful reward that was planned especially for them? For example, what about culinary lessons for a great hobbyist chef, or time off with travel expenses included to visit elderly parents? A great example of this is a Utah company, Fishbowl, which created and executed a company auction to raise funds and materials to help a valued young employee and his family adopt a Russian child. If you include your employees and encourage thinking that is out of the box, you may be amazed by their creative ways to recognize.

Start today and make recognition a habit within your team and company. The results will be more than amazing.

By cheryl snapp conner
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