What to Do When Your Recognition Program Loses Momentum: Four Easy Tips to Get it Back on Track

“My recognition program isn’t working anymore.” Oh the number of times I’ve heard that!

Keeping your recognition efforts going does take time and energy. I won’t lie. However, it is easier to resuscitate and reinvigorate it than getting it started fresh. Good news is you can keep it from going stale (or getting staler). And, if this isn’t enough, I’m invested in your success. I welcome you to jump into my calendar for a quick 15-minute conversation about how to freshen up your recognition program. I have lots more ideas where this came from!

In the meantime, here are four key strategies that are essential:

1.Know your Data

How are you measuring your recognition program? How do you know it’s losing momentum? Is it just a hunch, or are you measuring it? And by the way, if it’s just a count measure of how many kudos cards were posted, that may be an artificial number. Is it impacting important business drivers such as lowering turnover, increasing length of time with the organization, boosting continuous improvement behaviours like new ideas. Sometimes folks don’t know that recognition isn’t working in staffs’ eyes until they do their engagement survey, and by this time you’re behind the eight-ball. Instead, find ways of measuring along the way and do a “Health Check” on a monthly basis of key organizational drivers. (Want more on this? Check out my past VLOGs to discover how this can help retain your best people.)

2.Measure What Matters

How is this organization tied to a strategic business focus? It is built into your people plan? Does it reflect your company values? Does it link to boosting the customer experience?  When you add recognition to a priority project, it maintains the focus, resources and monitoring to maintain success.

Another way of looking at it is, what problem do you personally need to solve? For instance, I had a client decide that they were going to begin to leverage recognition to boost collaboration and healthy team communication (as opposed to the gossip and competitiveness). He started every team meeting and morning huddle with a minute of reflection on who deserves recognition (within the team or outside the team). It may seem on the surface to not be a big commitment, but the team was dealing with a lot of issues and already had packed agendas. The irony was, by spending one minute at the beginning, helped reduce time complaining and increased time solution-finding which propelled action. They were able to reduce the length of meetings and in a meeting evaluation form he implemented, ratings of satisfaction, effectiveness and accountability increased.

3.Make it a Team Effort

Is recognition, “the leader’s job”. That’s simply not sustainable. First of all, who are your champions and how can they freshen things up, increase daily acts of recognition and encourage others to recognize more often? (we often think, “wow, she’s really dedicated” but keep it to ourselves!) Then, find ways to make recognition simple for anyone to do it. Have kudos cards handy. If you’re a virtual team using a dashboard, dedicate a spot for shout-outs. Make it an agenda item and ask everyone to participate versus just you coming prepared with shout-outs. You can even formalize it with established groups coming up with creative new ideas to keep recognition fresh (such as the wellness team, social committee, engagement task force); built it into established organizational or team structures that fit well with your culture.

4.Keep it Simple

Make it easy for anybody to get involved. I see a lot of organizations who are caught up in lots of steps. You have to fill out a form, then send a message to this person, and cc that person…it’s just not sustainable, efficient or effective. Consider how people can recognize organically and naturally. Here’s an example of simple. Anytime you go into a Best Buy store, you will see a Kudos board. There are cards right beside it. They’re nothing fancy (printouts from any regular printer). To fill it out it would take under a minute. Any anyone can fill it out because it’s in a public area – customer, staff member, supervisor. How to give the recognition? Just pin it to the board, and done! If you want to brand it, some of our clients use FROG Kudos cards that they buy in bulk so they always have a bunch at the ready! Simple is sometimes best. But simple doesn’t mean it’s not strategic. Someone or a group had to come up with an idea of the simplest way to encourage recognition.

If you’re still not quite sure where to start or you’re struggling to get results, why don’t we grab 15-minutes for a virtual chat? Let me help you bring back excitement, a clear plan, to help you see exactly what you’re going to measure to ensure a big impact.

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

– Mother Teresa

Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
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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!"
Sylvia D’Intino

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!"
Jamie Campbell

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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