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

image of a woman with her hands over her heart expressing gratitudeRecognition 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.

5. Adapt

image of 2 street signs, one says react and the other says adapt with a blue sky and fluffy white clouds in the backgroundWhen 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.

image of FROG TRIBUTE CARDS by Greatness MagnifiedIf you have questions about the virtual version of FROG Tributes, like what i24 have built into their internal system, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@greatnessmagnified.com.

We are happy to share even more ideas on creating a recognition program that works; check out these previous blogs:

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

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
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President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

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Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

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Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
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Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
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Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
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Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

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