The power of positive reinforcement and recognition for a job well done is something that everyone appreciates. Managers and supervisors know and realize this. Even the best initiatives and intentions can produce undesired results. Recently, I witnessed this first hand when reviewing the results of a survey sent to a sampling of one of our client’s awardees. Recognition practices and programs impact each individual differently, whether positively or negatively. There is no one size, fits all. It is important to appeal to the masses, yet without forgetting about the minority as well.
Consider the impact of public recognition. For some, being honored in front of one’s peers represents an ultimate high and for others being put on display is sufficient reason to deliberately underachieve. I can relate. Although I love receiving praise and recognition, I’m surprising shy and don’t like much attention drawn to me in front of a crowd. Not what you’d expect from a salesman, but it’s true. It is something that makes me uncomfortable, yet I do still enjoy the recognition…just not my preferred means. Consider this when planning for your recognition banquet or event.
Case in point:
“I just do not like going to ‘recognition’ banquets.”
“I did actually go, but had lots of work, speaker not interesting to me.”
Notice the usage of “I” and “me”? Banquets and events like these are not for everyone. Personally, I’ve skipped out on receptions like these in the past because I don’t feel comfortable at such events. Do I think they are not needed? Absolutely not! For some, a reception such as this is more important than an award. Hell, I even skipped my own college graduation ceremony. Really wish I hadn’t because it would have meant a lot to my mother. Even worse…I overslept for my sister’s college graduation and as I later found out that meant a lot to her. You see…recognition isn’t just service awards…recognition really can be found in all walks of life!
Take criticism to your program with a grain of salt. A common complaint when awardees are surveyed is that the awardee feels that the awards are not a good representation for their years of service. This might be a result of poor award choices provided by your service award vendor, but more likely as a result of adhering to a budget. If you’re budget is $200 at the 20 year level, but the awardee feels awards should be around $500, then no matter what the awards are, you will not satisfy and meet this person’s expectations.
Things break. Whether they are a result of the item being faulty or improper usage of the item. We know this. We realize this. We even include a note for each awardee along with their award. Yet, with each survey conducted there are always complaints about an item damaged, breaking, not working, etc. We, like the majority of vendors try to be proactive when issues like these arise, but unfortunately many of these go unheard of until survey results are given. It is important as administrators to keep have open communication with your awardees and reiterate to them that should there be any problems, they contact the service award vendor immediately. Recognition is suppose to be a time of honor and celebration, a positive moment in an employee’s life…we do not want there to be anything negative surrounding this milestone.
Case in point:
“The wine fridge was great while it was working. It broke about three months into the warranty. Heier would not work with me on a replacement. I got in touch with Award Concepts, Kayla, and she worked hard to get a replacement. It took several months to get a replacement because she had to find a substitute wine fridge. I received the sub about a month ago and everything seems to be working well. Kudos to Kayla and all her help.”
When contact has been made and notice given of an item defect we will go through hoops for your awardees. We strive to make the recognition period a positive reflection of the goodwill of your organization to your employee.
What you see is what you get…well, sort of. Unless you are currently (or have previously been) in procession of the item and can “play” with it you will never know 100% what it is you are receiving based upon an image and description in an award catalog or online. We try to provide quality imagery, descriptions, and dimensions, however that sometimes isn’t enough.
Case in point:
It met my expectations. Having said that, I chose the wall clock. My father, who I consider a master carpenter, made many clocks including grandfather clocks for our home while I was living at home so you would have to really jump over hoops for me to be overly impressed with any clock so don’t take offense. Wish the chimes had been more pleasing to
This individual obviously had high expectations considering their father had hand-crafted many clocks. They were honest in their feedback and even stated that it would take a lot for them to be overly impressed with a clock. It is unfortunate that they were unhappy with the chime of the clock. Situations like these will arise. We are currently looking into the ability of adding an audio file to items like this so one would be able to hear the chime of a clock before ordering. Again, this was the only complaint about the chime of a clock of the survey respondents, but it provides an area to improve.
When I first reviewed the results of the survey I was disappointed in the results. We strive for perfection so was quite critical. After another look and a different perspective I was able to see the remarks differently and more open minded. I’m hoping that this article demonstrated the type of mindset you must have when reviewing and interpreting your recognition program’s survey results.
The power of recognition is real. There are several reasons why employers have recognition programs. They wish to create a positive work environment, create a culture of recognition, motivate high performance and support the organization’s mission and values. It is how a recognition program is actually executed, however, that determines if these goals will be met.
Here are some do’s and don’ts of effective employee engagement:
Don’t speak negatively about your recognition programs. A CEO of a company was once quoted as saying, “Yeah, we have an employee-of-the-month program. It doesn’t work very well and everybody seems to hate it, but it’s there, so we’re keeping it.” Instead, try to find out why employees seem to hate your program. Ask for their opinions on how to improve it.
Don’t overlook the details. One sales manager purchased neckties for all his sales reps, forgetting that several of them were women. Another office manager bought each of his fifteen employees a ham with personal funds one holiday season – only to be reminded that two of the employees were Jewish and did not eat ham.
Don’t publicly single out low-performers. One insurance company singles out low-performing salespeople at its quarterly awards function and has them get up in front of the company’s seven-hundred other sales reps and explain why they didn’t do a better job. This practice makes morale suffer drastically. There’s a difference between constructive criticism and humiliation. Support your employees. Be positive. If you need to address under-performance, do it in private. Here is a great article with tips for improving employee morale: Ideas for Employee Appreciation and Recognition.
Don’t ever forget about employee recognition. When asked what he liked to do to recognize his employees when they do good work, a manager said, “I like to write a letter to the employee’s personnel file.” When asked when was the last time he did that, the manager thought for a few seconds before responding, “1987.” It’s important to acknowledge your employees’ impact on your company a regular basis. Set biweekly reminders for yourself in Outlook with things such as “Who should be recognized this week?” or “Write a ‘thank you’ note to 2 members of the team today. Everyone is busy nowadays, but as a manager, it is your responsibility to recognize the people who deserve it. Don’t get successes go unnoticed.
Effective recognition motivates employee performance and elevates company morale. However, thoughtless and ineffective recognition efforts can generate long-lasting skepticism and negativity. When employers recognize good performance by their employees, chances are they will see that good performance again.
Award Concepts delivers employee recognition programs that are guaranteed to inspire, motivate and engage your workforce. Contact a recognition professional today for more information.
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