Your job as a manager is to build an environment in which your team is motivated and committed to act in the best interest of the company. You can create this environment by hitting on the three things that really motivate people at work:
- Respect: Ensure employees feel respected.
- Relationship: Ensure employees have a good relationship with their manager.
- Relevance: Ensure employees understand how their work makes a difference.
All three of these elements earn you trust as a leader and are easily influenced by the habit of strategically using recognition.
What is strategic recognition?
Strategic recognition is the act of acknowledging, appreciating, and sharing a story of an instance when an employee helped improve the employee or customer experience—a story that is easily tied to measurement areas that your company already tracks (e.g., customer retention, revenue growth, increased productivity, enhanced brand image, etc.).
A strategic recognition program that facilitates the capturing and sharing of these best practices and examples of the company experience in action is a great way to replicate the work of your best employees. And you’ll find it will far surpass any rewards-oriented program when it comes to creating engaged employees (those who are motivated and committed).
Appreciation is the strongest currency in your corporate culture. Managers who are willing to develop their skills in recognizing others have a great opportunity to leverage it as an effective way to Manage the Experience and remind employees to Live the Brand. It provides continuous fodder for starting formal or informal conversations with your people and it provides a platform for publicly and privately acknowledging employee actions that led to tangible benefits for your company (linking employee behavior to results, which helps employees see the relevance and meaningfulness of their work).
Strategic recognition helps managers:
- Set and reinforce expectations for Living the Brand (knowing the company experience and doing it when acting and interacting with colleagues and customers).
- Communicate about the experience in a strategic way, keeping it top of mind and making it part of day-to-day conversations.
- Hold everyone (themselves included) accountable to Living the Brand by providing incredible visibility across the company.
Recognition is an essential part of creating a work environment where employees are able to feel motivated and committed—more engaged.
Dos and don'ts
Do find a way to consistently and comprehensively share recognition posts across the company. Imagine if your sales team could shadow a day in the life of your manufacturing team? How might this help remove silos and increase collaboration? Reading recognitions across departments can build this understanding and collaboration and remove the “us vs. them” mentality that can destroy your employee experience. Look for opportunities to recognize, not just highly visible great work, but great work behind the scenes. Who do you know who does great work for the company but may be overlooked for recognition?
Do have managers play a role in reviewing and adding comments to recognition posts submitted for their teams. A comment added to a recognition post by a manager can sometimes be even more powerful than the original recognition.
Don’t let rewards become more important than the best practices. If your program uses points and starts to become more about gift certificates than learning from others, focus on making the stories more powerful and sharing them to get things back on track.
Don’t settle for the same group publishing stories or being recognized. Employees will stop paying attention unless there is a diverse group represented. Managers can work to keep participation more wide-ranging until broader participation becomes self-sustaining.
More on the importance of recognition and how to use recognition strategically