Welcome back to Your Greatness Magnified! This week we’re talking about the recognition culture roadblocks that many organizations experience.
I want to steer you from these roadblocks and help you retain your best people! Avoid spending money on programs and systems that perhaps people are not identifying with. Find ways to recognize that are meaningful to them and make them feel valued. I want to help you avoid finding yourself in a talent shortage if you’re not already. So, let’s get past those roadblocks because this helps to get at some of the root issues in your culture that will allow you to retain your best people and maximize any investment you make in recognizing your staff, leaders, and customers!
How do you make sure that the investment is worth it? We all know that of course, you don’t have an infinite amount of resources to be able to recognize. Here are some of the things that I see most commonly that make me cringe:
- Recognition is all head-office driven.
People aren’t looking for “the corporation” to recognize them. They want the people they report to and work with to see the value they’re contributing. They want that personalized, timely acknowledgement in the moment by their peers or their direct supervisor. If that’s missing, all the corporate virtual portals, milestone events or plaques will mean little and certainly not compensate for a lack of human connection.
- Focusing on the short-term fixes.
Some organizations I work with are going through tough times. However, sometimes scarcity and worry can distract from looking at the big picture; in times of austerity, a lack of long-term thinking may lead to a decision to cut an element of a recognition program that is actually working well. For example, an incentive system for finding efficiencies and continuous improvement. A short-term focus – saving money today – may cost you money and people tomorrow. This isn’t to say good ideas will dry up, but it can send a message that conservation is paramount over innovation; what you focus on matters.
- Recognition is the leader’s job.
It has been well established that the person people most want to be recognized by is their direct supervisor. However, a close second is peers. After all, who knows your contribution best? Those who see you adding value every day – peers, customers, partners and the like. And yet, often these opportunities for acknowledgement pass us by. Furthermore, it’s not sustainable if recognition is all at a leadership level.
- Not prioritizing recognition.
It’s the corner of the desk phenomenon. Yes, I will get to recognition, I’m just going to do it after I finish this and get that project off my plate and once things slow down… Instead, let’s make recognition super easy. It’s as simple as more often saying thank-you (95% of people say that’s how they want to be acknowledged). Yes, there are lots of additional ways you can add in recognition easily and seamlessly (I’ve shared with you, in past posts, how other organizations have built recognition into their cultures and daily work to the point it’s owned by many so takes on a life of its own). It doesn’t have to be a whole initiative, project or new task. Just say thanks. Start there, or do it more, and see what results you get.
- “Too busy” to recognize.
I’m “too busy” to do this, I’m “too busy” to do that. Don’t you hear that a lot? Don’t you say that a lot? And sure, we’re all too busy. I mean, my teenagers think they’re busy (they have no idea!) We’re all too busy and yet, if you’re too busy to value and recognize the people that give so much to you, then it will catch up with you by way of more on your plate in the form of recruitment, mentoring and retraining when your best people leave.
- Letting past failed attempts stop you from trying again.
Past failed attempts – when you tried to recognize somebody they didn’t seem to appreciate it, when you brought in a cake and nobody showed up to the ceremony, when you started a team meeting with acknowledgement and folks instead started complaining – can dampen your enthusiasm and deflate your efforts. Well, if you’re a parent, have you tried a parenting technique and had to give it a go more than one time for it to start to have an impact? Of course! I have yet to try something that works perfectly the first time with my kids! Have you ever tried to start a new fitness routine and had a couple of false starts before you really got going? Of course! If you had failed attempts with recognition and have a story in your head that you don’t know how to recognize or a particular approach doesn’t work, just try again to authentically recognize your people. See if you can rewrite that story.
- Too many levels of approval.
Approval bottlenecks where there are too many steps, gatekeepers or policies in place that stop recognition from happening or slows the process down are, well, ridiculous (may I be frank?) Sure, it’s important to make sure that there’s a good fiscal use of resources. However, does every message, award, token of appreciation require manager approval? Why? And do your managers have that kind of time? What makes managers the best gauge of who deserves what? Seems a bit old school transactional approach to management doesn’t it? Take a look at your policies and procedures in recognition. If there’s at least two levels of approval, you know your process alone is killing off any chance of a recognition culture.
Of these seven roadblocks, what exists in your workplace and culture? What is one thing that you could impact or do differently? Now, why not send a text, email, pick up the phone, write a note or go for a walk and tell one of the rock stars in your world why you don’t want to lose them and why they matter.
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