Years ago, I was part of an organization that conducted and attempted to use the results of an annual employee satisfaction survey. It seemed that each year the very large team I led was asking for improved recognition for their accomplishments. For the longest time, those of us on my leadership team would respond by doing more recognitions with little improvement in the scores. This was true until we re-assessed the way we looked at recognition and created a recognition hierarchy.
The lowest tier of the hierarchy is simply paying everyone the personal respect they desire. This included talking to your people, thanking them for what they do (which starts with knowing what they do) and celebrating key events and accomplishments. Each leader within the organization had to understand this basic role. Without reducing the first tier, the next step was to create an environment that let people shine. Leaders visited the team in their location (what Tom Peters called “MBWA”), let them present important work to company leadership and told their success stories to others. The highest form of recognition was to be given the most important and challenging assignments and to be recognized within one’s profession, both inside and outside the company.
While this is a very simplified view of how our team overcame the recognition challenge, it worked. Higher recognition scores on the survey did not result from giving more awards, they resulted from doing it better and in a more systematic way.
Have you created a similar approach for recognition? How has it worked?