Want to Create a Shareable Recognition Experience that Boomerangs Compliments for Your Team?
Guest Author, Mallory Dunbar, Learning Specialist, Greatness Magnified
Last week we shared i24’s evolution and acceleration of their formerly bricks-and-mortar-based recognition program to one that is not only virtual-friendly, it is digitally thriving!
Check out Part II here:
I asked Gary and Ray what advice they would give to companies looking to deepen their current recognition approach. Here’s what they shared.
1. Evaluate your culture and showcase your values every day
A successful recognition program will reflect who you are as a company. Employees want to be valued for the things their company values. If your organization values collaboration, your employees would likely favour a recognition program that honours the collective. In essence, one that focuses on being (who they are as a person). If your company values competition, then employees would likely favour rewards outputs. One that focuses on doing (what they have achieved and accomplished).
Remember, your employees and leaders know if recognition doesn’t feel authentic and sincere to who you are. Your recognition program should reinforce the culture and values your employees see and experience every day.
2. Get buy-in and get out of the way
Recognition is everyone’s job. Any program – recognition or not – will not be successful without buy-in from management, informal leaders, and employees. Leaders will set the path, creating more engagement and buy-in, and then they can step aside for peer-to-peer appreciation to shine.
Don’t let there be gatekeepers to acknowledgement. If you need budgets, approvals, and formal systems, know you’re putting bottlenecks on meaningful human connection. Do the work to create the system, then let the recognition be fuelled within and among the team members.
3. Be genuine and express gratitude
Recognition programs are about the person, not about what can be gained. If the program is there to incentivize what’s good for the business only, that’s rewards-based programs; there’s a place for those, however, don’t try to pass off “this is for you” when really it’s designed to drive profit or targets.
Recognition enables acknowledging behaviours and performances that reinforce healthy relationships, gratitude, and goodwill. Yes, performance comes along for the ride. Rewards can unapologetically target and reinforce performance, targets and metrics. That’s the job of rewards (in the “rewards and recognition” dynamic duo.) It’s dangerous ground to have recognition manipulate performance first and foremost. Know the difference (if you don’t, that’s what we’re here for.) Your folks can tell the difference; they can spot an insincere recognition program from a mile away. When you design your program, do so with nothing in mind other than recognizing employees for what they do and who they are.
A well-designed and well-executed recognition program will result in business gains (higher engagement, retention, productivity…shall I go on?), but only when you go in with good intentions.
4. Keep it simple
In today’s world, people want fast and easy. We need it. Most of us are walking around overdrawn in our emotional, cognitive and time “bank accounts”. If acts of recognition seem are seens cumbersome thing, it can turn a team or organization’s well-intentioned recognition initiative into a burden.
Want recognition to work? Make it as simple and easy as possible. That’s why i24’s strategy of building our FROG Tributes (compliments) into the communication system folks are already in and making it easy to share a compliment quickly (in 30 seconds) was an instant success.
Given folks are looking for deeper relationships, to do meaningful work, and to be part of a community of like-minded people, there is a desire for recognition to be part of our everyday work experience. If there are 8 different steps, 3 different platforms, and a one-week delay to receive a kudos, even if you can get folks initially on board, it’s unlikely to sustain itself. Even your cheerleaders won’t be able to keep up (they will do other things that are way easier).
i24’s FROG card program has 3 steps involved: select the recipient, add your name, choose your card and send. That’s it – just one minute to make someone’s day. And it’s built into the communication system that folks are already signed into when they are on shift. The simpler it is, the more people will use it, and the more sustainable it will be.
When they moved to remote work, i24 knew they could no longer hold the in-person WOW celebrations they had in the past, so they moved to a digital recognition program. Any program should continue to evolve to fit the changing needs of its employees and the work environment. If an external or internal change happens, don’t forget to take a peek at your recognition strategy. When you refresh your people strategy, your rewards and recognition program must be part of this review.
That’s exactly what we did. In just one day, breaking into two grounds so we could have coverage, staff, leaders and the owner at i24 came up with super simple, satisfying and aligned next steps that were immediately implementable. They didn’t just talk about it, they did it. They didn’t decide on a board room, they invited a variety of team members to the table to plan the next iteration. And they weren’t afraid to try a few things without knowing if they’d work.
In other words, any team or organization’s approach needs to be fluid – it’s a journey, not a destination. The world moves fast, and we need to keep up. And of all the races we’re in, isn’t the “attract and retain great people” a really fun one?
If you want to revamp your recognition approach, let i24 be your reminder: your employees want to be recognized on a human level. Appreciate them not just for what they’ve done but for who they are. You can revisit and perhaps rebuild your program with some do-it-yourself advice here, and of course, reach out to us anytime.
We are happy to share even more ideas on creating a recognition program that works; check out these previous blogs: