Employee engagement is an urgent matter. Recognition offers a quick fix.

Before inflicting major change initiatives, why not simply recognize and reinforce examples of where you want to head? Recognition provides an easy to implement and low-cost way to engage employees and shift your culture towards new values.

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Recognition provides a low-cost way to engage employees and shift your culture towards new values

As Rachel O’Connor of the global management consultancy Hay Group observes, “When done well, recognition is a form of feedback that tells us we are doing something that is contributing to the organization’s success. Recognition communicates messages about the contributions that are expected and valued by the organization. From this perspective, recognition is a key tool for aligning employees with team and organizational goals.”

Recognition is a form of feedback that tells us we are doing something that is contributing to the organization’s success

The trick is to turn recognition from a program initiative into a leadership initiative. According to Rachel, “Recognition should not be considered just a warm-and-fuzzy HR initiative. For recognition to be truly effective, it must be ingrained in an organization’s culture.” Coach your leadership team to deliver specific recognition in real time. Often.

 

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Spontaneous recognition of small but specific things is very powerful. Rather than vaguely patting someone on the back for working hard this month, observe something specific they are doing right now that examples your value and culture. Being specific is what makes it genuine and meaningful. Bonus points if you can tie in how it aligns with where your company is heading.

Spontaneous recognition of small but specific things is very powerful

According to a Hay Group survey, only 57% of employees report that their contributions are recognized when they perform well. Leaders often get hung up with concerns over recognizing individuals over teams, forcing them into less frequent and less specific pattern of recognition. Recognizing smaller things more frequently solves this, as you spot various team members making specific contributions in their own way. Bonus points if you can tie these specific recognitions into the overall quest of the team.

Leaders often get hung up with concerns over recognizing individuals over teams

Interestingly, it is often leaders that are the most hesitant to invest in recognition. As we have rolled the Jostle Shout-Out (a simple mechanism to recognize people and teams) into organizations almost always peer-to-peer recognition breaks out well in advance of leadership participation. Coaching your leadership team through this can be a quick win.

 

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Recognition fills a basic human need, making it easy to stimulate. It is contagious and can quickly become an important part of your organization’s culture. Leading by example is key to making it happen. Leadership teams that take the time to recognize small contributions daily, and tie them to the values and direction of the company, can quickly create a culture of recognition deep in their organization, providing a powerful way to shift your culture and reinforce important values.

 

This article is by Brad Palmer from switchandshift.com.