7 Helpful Tips to Help You to Deal with Resistance to Your Recognition Program
by Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified
You know recognition is a great idea.
You’ve seen the value! You’ve even levelled up recognition in your team and across the entire organization!
And then, pushback. (Insert gloomy music here).
Are all of your efforts for naught? Was it a failure? Did you do it wrong? Are they wrong?
We recently helped an amazing organization that is rolling out FROG (Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness) with this question: “We have one group that is struggling to see the value, and we need help to motivate them. Any ideas?”
Do we ever!
First of all, know that this is normal! Don’t question yourself, your program, or your intention too hastily. If people are complaining, disputing or even simply expressing subtle resistance, that’s a good sign! They trust you! People who are disengaged (quietly quit) and mentally out the door are not the people who dispute a recognition program. They don’t care enough to do so! They’re not invested!
So, with this gift of the challenge, here are some options:
1. Could you “drip” recognition into existing work conversations, such as starting team meetings with a recognition reflection, asking folks to recognize other departments/programs, etc.? Sometimes small and subtle is the shift that’s needed. If you already do this (no doubt you do), keep doing it!
2. Could you tie the “full” launch to a particular celebration (e.g., Employee Appreciation Day, Nurses Week, Sales Professionals in the Plastics Industry Who Also Like Hamburgers Day!)? Bring in an expert (ahem, sure, I’d love to come!) as part of the event and let them learn, experience and explore recognition while being recognized!
3. Could a few stay interviews be woven into crucial conversations to discover the more profound issues?
4. Could we reflect on the concept of “a complaint is merely a poorly worded request“? What are the requests and resourceful insights hidden behind the pushback?
5. Could you leverage the Recognition Checklist results from that team and review/gather their results and adapt the recognition to what those individuals most want (e.g. if most/all prefer “private” recognition versus public acknowledgements, then a shift to one-on-one and back away from the team/corporate work for now).
6. Could you “study” the “bright spots” (the concept of positive deviance that we dive into in our Solution Focused Greatness session – feel free to click to learn more!)? Explore where recognition practices flourish and leverage those strategies over time in places where it’s not.
7. Could you make recognition a “fun” anchor to fuel connection every month? We just created a Recognition Calendar to give you an idea for every month in 2023!
Push versus Pull Approach
So much of this advice is a “pull” versus “push” approach to change. Keep your passion for creating a recognition-rich culture, and don’t be afraid to let it grow over time. You know how you can plant all of the same seedlings, but some shoot up, and others take a while to germinate? Recognition is like that too. You plant the seeds, water them, fertilize them, try different places to nourish them, and over time, they will grow.
Hesitancy, skepticism or uncertainty are par for the course of any culture change. You’re elevating your recognition intention and practices for all the right reasons, so stay the course. After all, you have the gift to push back. And what an exciting source of insight you now have available!
Can we help? Reach out! We love to help overcome roadblocks to recognition-rich cultures.
Here are even more ideas to help you push your recognition program forward:
PS – If you’re rebuilding your recognition strategy, this program might be helpful.