Is It Time to Redefine Your Recognition Program?

BY Kathy Crosett
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We all know that money alone won't motivate employees. Some of your top achievers may be highly engaged because they want to contribute to the organization’s mission. And then, there are employees who really want recognition.

The Problem with Traditional Recognition

Your team members might be excited about winning the coveted “employee of the year” award. Or they might enjoy competing for a prize that gets them out of kitchen duty for a month. The problem with this style of recognition is that only a few employees benefit. Before you embark on a complicated program that recognizes employees for being with the company for ten years, consider the advice of Victor Lipman.

Many of your team members toil at their daily tasks with little acknowledgement. Tucked away in their offices or cubicles, they turn out documents and spreadsheets. Or, they take constant abuse on the customer service lines. As far as Lipman is concerned, employee recognition should start and end at this level.

Why Managers Fail at Recognition

If you’re overworked as a manager, and many of us are, you only communicate with an employee when something’s wrong. We see our primary role as making sure that we steer our department toward successfully achieving our goals. While that is a key goal, we must rely on our team members to help us. It’s often been said that a manager should make four positive statements for each corrective suggestion we make. 

Framework for a New Recognition Program

On a daily basis, are you taking a few minutes to think about what has gone right in your department? Has one of your employees been completing every task on their list for the past couple of weeks? Stop by their office and let them know you’ve noticed. The next time you’re in the break room and run into one of your team members, steer the conversation to what they’ve been working on. Compliment them on a particular aspect of their work.

Taking this initiative boosts everyone’s sense of belonging and engagement. And the long-​term outcome will be far more positive than an expensive and hard-​to-​manage formal recognition program.