Recognition is very important to many people. The bad news is that we often find it to be one of the key problems in organization when we initially survey them. The good news is that the problem can be fixed without enormous monetary expenditures.
If you, in your management role are not the type who believe recognition is important to people (because it is not important to you), understand that you are mistaken in your belief. The seeking of recognition (and receipt of it when it is deserved) can be one of the chief motivations for some people. It increases self-esteem and feelings of belonging, which are high on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Often, a pat on the back in private will be sufficient, but, wherever possible, make the recognition public when someone has done a particularly good job.
Reward and recognition programs also can help, but they need to be carefully crafted and monitored to avoid abuse. I recall a particular executive assistant who posted her recognition ribbons prominently on a bulletin board above her desk. She granted easy access to the executive to employees who nominated her for rewards.
If you develop a formal employee recognition program, make sure it is clear and fair. All employees should have an opportunity to be nominated and all employees should be able to nominate others. Those making nominations should describe in detail why the person they nominated deserves to be recognized. Merely doing one’s job should not be sufficient to recognize someone, but going above and beyond the call of duty with positive results should not go unrecognized. Consider forming committees within departments to evaluate nominees. Let people flow in and out of the committees to prevent stagnation.
Do not let too much time lapse between an act deserving recognition and the recognition itself. The closer recognition is to complete spontaneity, the better. Do not impose artificial limitations on the number of people who can be recognized.
Rewards associated with a recognition program don’t have to be expensive. Movie tickets, gift cards, food baskets, or similar items usually are sufficient. Give those who are recognized their choice of a discrete set of rewards.
As with other items you target for improvement, measure the success of your recognition efforts through employee responses to your employee survey. If you see a lapse, re-evaluate your recognition efforts.