Recognition of staff contribution and the reinforcement of positive behaviour can have a major impact on the levels of staff engagement in your business, but only if handled in the correct way. If however, recognition is given incorrectly or in an untimely manner, you run the risk of losing its impact or even having it backfire on you.
Whether you’re running a formal points based recognition program, or an informal or social reinforcement program to show appreciation, it’s important to establish and implement the ground rules for giving effective recognition.
As a result, you need to determine the who, what, when, where, how and why principles of recognition.
Who gets recognised? This one is easy. The answer is everyone in your organisation. Any employee displaying exceptional performance or behaviour “above and beyond” or “going the extra mile” is likely to deserve some form of recognition. You can also apply the same rules to who gives recognition, as many surveys have shown that peer to peer recognition is a powerful motivator. A recent survey by Badgeville showed that 76% of employees found praise from their peers to be very or extremely motivating while 88% also found praise from their managers to be very or extremely motivating.So who it comes from really doesn’t matter as long as it’s delivered effectively and is deserved.
What gets recognised? This is really determined by what you are trying to achieve in the business, but basically any award for recognising positive contribution to the business is likely to have a positive impact. A key to making this is a success is to focus on what you are trying to achieve. Is it to reduce staff turnover, increase customer satisfaction or encourage innovation and cost saving ideas for example? When you decide what you are trying to achieve you can then determine the behaviours that will help you reach the desired results, and measure these behaviours as your criteria.
When do you recognise? Timing plays a key role in recognition. If you wait too long to recognise or reward someone for their efforts, the connection between the reward and the behaviour becomes diluted. In this situation, you lose the effectiveness of reinforcing the behaviour. Make sure you recognise and reward your people in a timely manner. A simple “thank you for a job well done” immediately the action is seen may suffice in the short term, and could be backed up by some formal recognition at a later date.
Where do you recognise? In the context of environment, you have a few options for recognising an individual. For example, does the person prefer to be publicly praised or would they prefer a more private expression of thanks, or a certificate of recognition? Managers need to understand which the most appropriate form of recognition is for a team member, as it can result in a significant increase in the impact the recognition has on the recipient. In the same way, different rewards should be considered, based on age and gender and value to the business, as this can deliver different impacts as well.
How do you recognise? The main answer is “with sincerity”. In addition to choosing the correct setting, it’s important that the recognition is expressed with sincerity and genuine appreciation, and is in context to the behaviour and the impact to the business. Often it’s the words you say that have more value to the recipient than the public praise or even the reward. So make sure how you express your appreciation is sincere.
Why should you recognise? This seems like a no-brainer, but recognition is more than just reinforcing behavior (although that’s a large part of it). Organisations that utilise workplace recognition, especially if backed up by software programs to support the recognition initiative, often experience reduced staff turnover, increased talent attraction, higher productivity, improved customer satisfaction and increased levels of employee engagement according to a recent SHRM/Globoforce survey.
A study by Gallup in 2013 showed that organisations that recognise staff performance and contribution and have higher levels of staff engagement and often significantly outperform those that do not. In these situations, highly motivated and engaged employees performance can be as much as three times that of their competition.
So there you have it. By knowing and understanding these simple ground rules of recognition, you are on your way to ensuring the recognition you give will have the greatest impact.
Your staff are your only unique competitive advantage. Everything else can be copied or replicated. If you prize your staff and encourage, recognise and reward positive behaviour and contribution you will surely have a winning team.
Tony Delaney, CEO Brownie Points