Ramping Up Recognition


Do your leaders inspire people to become great recognizers of your employees? Here are some tips and best practices to help your leaders inspire their direct reports to become better recognizers of their employees.

1. Be an exemplary leader. Piloting in one region first is often wise when launching a new recognition initiative across a national organization.

I saw this with a regional president who was committed to having her managers use their recognition program to become a powerful tool for enhancing performance success. This senior leader strongly communicated her expectations to everyone.

She was an exemplary user of the recognition programs. She made comments on the social recognition newsfeed; she sent out e-cards for achievements or celebratory messages; and she nominated people for performance rewards.

She worked with a direct report to create a communication calendar and sent out inspirational messages and content broadcasts to all managers and front-line employees. She spearheaded marketing content and ensured her assistants captured positive examples of managers using the programs well.

Direct reports were monitored for taking new microlearning modules on recognition skills. Managers soon became more proficient and confident with recognition giving and gave more meaningful, more frequent, and effective recognition. Leaders held monthly review meetings with direct reports, and recognition skills and program usage were part of their performance accountability.

The senior leader expected her direct reports to follow up with managers on taking the online learning and achieving their learning goals to improve recognition in their one-on-one meetings. This leadership approach led to more managers taking the microlearning courses than in any other region. The more managers improved their recognition abilities through taking the courses, the higher performance results their employees achieved.

2. Tell people exactly what you expect them to do. Leaders need to explain their expectations for using a system such as a recognition program and repeatedly emphasize that message.

The regional president mentioned above told managers and employees what she expected from them in terms of using the new recognition program.

She used the programs consistently. Managers and employees alike received recognition from their regional president, and they respected her for it.

3. Give people a grand purpose and reason for recognition. Have your leaders put a stake in the ground and outline the goals they want to achieve through your recognition programs.

Inspirational leaders always see and know where they are going and what they want to achieve. They adhere to clear values, so you know where they stand on things. Leaders state their purpose for any initiative and detail the change they want to see happen.

4. Know their own strengths and weaknesses. If a leader needs to learn new skills, they do it. This same awareness of their own limits applies to knowing the strengths and weaknesses of their teams. They encourage the creation of peer-to-peer mentorship to learn recognition giving from those more proficient. They promote working on team projects and other cross-training initiatives.

5. Leader inspiration fosters inspiration in others. Create opportunities in management forums and online meetings to recognize managers for what they are doing and to share examples of recent employee recognition.

Great leaders draw their own inspiration from the successes of their leaders and team members. They have a strong commitment to the cause at hand. They also share their own journey of struggles and successes in recognizing people. They are candid about what it takes to be a positive recognizer of others.

6. Strong communication skills make inspiring others easier. Ensure your leadership development has programs that address effective communication skills, along with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Excellent leaders actively listen and intuitively match and mirror others’ nonverbal cues. All employees feel valued by them and understood. Inspirational leaders are inclusive and respectful of the diverse needs of employees. They appreciate people for who they are and recognize them for their contributions.

Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP
Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP, is author of “Practicing Recognition” and Chief Learning Officer at Rideau Recognition Solutions. His consulting and learning skills focus on helping companies “give real recognition the right way wherever they are.” For recognition insights, visit: http://AuthenticRecognition.com. For more information, e-mail him at: RoySaunderson@Rideau.com or visit: www.Rideau.com