Peer-to-Peer Recognition

A common question I get asked is, “How do we have more peer-to-peer recognition happening in my organization?

It’s a great question, because what we’re seeing happens very rarely. It’s seldom monitored and it’s hardly ever resourced, and yet, it is one of the most effective ways to be able to build a recognition culture. After all, there’s way more employees than there are leaders. Where will the great volume and impact happen? When we’re all recognizing each other!

If you’re the one who can’t seem to convince people to recognize each other—folks sometimes think, “Well, where do I even start?” Let me tell you, it starts with you. I’m going to share some of the top ways in which you can fuel and leverage influence in your own way to start peer-to-peer recognition.

  1. Acknowledge Recognition that is Already Happening

The most important step is to go and see where peer-to-peer recognition is happening (this is called positive deviance). See the superstars and study what’s working. What the enables are, best practices, and transferrable tips. They may be able to tell you right away, “Well it’s because we like each other.” “It’s because we golf with each other outside of work.” “It’s because we are able to create our own schedule.” It will vary for every team, but study where it already exists and why it is working.

  1. Set the Example for Your Team

Are you practicing peer-to-peer recognition? Why not let it start with you? Often, we focus on trying to start a new initiative, but we don’t necessarily think about, “How can I demonstrate that new behaviour?”

I’m sure you are practicing it, but can you practice it even more? Expand your concept of peers. Maybe it’s not just the people that you are working with in your team, but perhaps other peer departments.

  1. Issue a Challenge

The next thing I’m going to suggest that you do is, issue a challenge. See how many folks can demonstrate recognition. Put a focus and emphasis on it for a certain period of time, and what will likely happen is that it will create a cascade. Folks won’t just stop doing it when the challenge is over.

What could the challenge look like? Why not encourage people to identify how many times that they’ve been acknowledged? You could try to purposely go out and randomly find five colleagues, or any number you choose, that are demonstrating it, and then decide what you think is important. Is it the organizations values? Is it that people are living the commitments of the team? People who have provided the greatest customer service? Issue a challenge that really resonates with folks and that will naturally lend itself well to peer-to-peer recognition.

  1. Acknowledge Recognition as You See It

The next piece I would suggest is to catch people in the act. So, as you are noticing peer-to-peer recognition, make it really transparent. People may not realize this is what they are doing. They may think it’s “just being nice”. Yes, it is nice, so acknowledge it and say, “Wow, this is amazing. What supportive colleagues you are.” Or in whatever words feel natural to you, so the people realize this is what they are doing – recognizing the greatness in others (while being nice of course!)

So, being acknowledged for acknowledging others, I appreciate this can sound like we’re just cascading, but it’s a good thing that we’re connecting the dots. Being acknowledged for something that we want to see more of is key, like peer-to-peer recognition.

  1. Make Recognition Visual in Your Workplace

The next piece is, go out there and find ways to make it visual and really accessible for folks. I love how, in previous teams I’ve worked with, they’ve taken bulletin boards, whiteboards, things that already exist in their area and have simply taken it over. For example, the flyers that have been posted for five years that nobody looks at anymore, take them all down and make it a peer-to-peer recognition board. This is what Meaghan and her team in Recreation in the City of Dawson Creek has done.

As that’s working, why not ask other people to contribute? Maybe your customers, other departments, you, if you are the leader in the department, and make it a source of pride. If we make it easy for people to see examples of it happening, and for them to practice it, there will be fewer barriers that people experience and it becomes part of the team culture.

What other strategies have you seen successfully used to encourage peer-to-peer recognition? Perhaps you have a program you can share with us that we would love to learn from. Please include it in the comment box and we will spread it out there.

Want cool templates and tools to speak peer-to-peer recognition? Download loads of resources from the Cool Stuff page. Let’s create a recognition revolution and boost the satisfaction of our workforce across North America!

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

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