Management Matters

Tips for Effective Employee Recognition – 0715A

Date Posted: 07/13/2015

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell humans and their canine friends apart. Both respond similarly to recognition and validation. One wags its tail when ‘petted’ as a reward for a good job done.  The other gets such a boost to his self-esteem he commits to do even better and encourages others to follow with an “if I can do it, so can you”. Even underperformers attempt to try harder with a dose of strong encouragement. There is enough evidence to suggest that people become more committed and productive with greater job satisfaction when their contributions are acknowledged and praised.  Validation through recognition is one of the most powerful drivers in human nature which, more than many other forms of reward, can produce higher performance and committed staff.

Without a doubt, smart managers who believe in a culture of appreciation of employees’ contributions receive their unstinted dedication and maximum effort. Effective employee recognition programs also convey a management attitude that rewards results from the people who contribute significantly to the organization.

An effective employee recognition system should be simple and prompt to be effective. Some fundamentals of an effective recognition program are:

•    Management involvement
The more senior the source of the recognition, the higher the gratification of the recipient. Therefore senior management involvement is critical for the success of any such program and their participation and encouragement ensures maximum impact.

•    Planned recognition system
Formalized or informal, a recognition program should be devised and implemented so that it is aligned with the company’s objectives. It should be able to measure outstanding performance and motivate without getting diluted along with other lesser rewards.

•    Parameters
A uniform set of parameters for rewarding outstanding performance should be determined. Publicizing the program generates excitement and greater interest and makes people more likely to participate with enthusiasm.

•    Make it specific
All rewards should be specific to a particular achievement and not generalized as this heightens the pleasure of the recognition. Generalizing may contain some element of subjectivity and could therefore be subject to debate and arguments which should be avoided.

•    Special
The recognition/validation must stand out as worthy and desirable. It should be over and above the routine ‘employee of the month’ awards to be perceived as proportionate to the special achievement. Standards set should be higher than the k.r.a. (key result areas), but nevertheless attainable in the perception of staff.

•    Eligibility
A system should be devised where rewards are available to all who excel in their respective roles. Every employee should be eligible for recognition and reward if certain higher standards of work and/or quality are to be achieved.

•    Impartial
The subjective judgment of the superior the employee reports to should not be the only criteria used.  The selection process should make sure it is not subject to any bias and judgment should be completely impartial and based on achievement alone.

•    Uncommon
Unexpected benefits always ensure higher gratification. Therefore a good recognition and reward program should be sudden, unpredictable and unexpected for maximum effect.

•    Time valued
The financial part of any reward should promptly follow the achievement so as not to get lost in bureaucratic process time, and thus lose its impact.

•    Relevance
Recognition must relate to the organizational business goal and underscore the employee’s effort to ensure business success for the company.

•    Proportionate  
Recognition should match effort and achievement to be meaningful. Computing the quantum in advance is necessary in order to maintain uniformity.

•    Treat differently
Individual personality preferences and sensitivities need to be borne in mind when publicly showing recognition so that it produces the greatest impact for every kind of individuality.

•    Beat the drum
Without continuous publicity, recognition programs can lose credibility and fade out. Therefore organizations should frequently direct their employees’ attention to its availability as a motivation tool. Regular calls for high performance against high rewards should be broadcast among all staff to egg them on to do better.

•    Inspire with rewards
Spare some thought to emotional rewarding and not just monetary benefits alone. Take into consideration staff viewpoints on reward selection before implementing what would be most appreciated. Don’t waste resources on rewards employees wouldn’t care about.

•    Update the program
Current comparative industry trends in rewarding should be taken into account for accessing the impact of the recognition scheme. Continuously assess mileage gained out of the programs and   monitor how many employees were motivated to over stretch themselves to attain higher performance levels. Periodically review the cost/ benefit of the scheme to temper its validity.

In conclusion, the HR (Human Resources) division is probably the best department to come up with a good employee recognition system.  With their support, the line managers and senior management are given direction on a good recognition program. The HR department is also the best department to administer the recognition process because:

•    They have the empirical employee performance data.
•    They can be unbiased and objective in interpreting performance.
•    They are furnished with information that can monitor individual success/failures and determine trends for spotting potential.
•    They can guide busy departmental managers on recognition programs.

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