The Game Changer
Recognition = Engagement
Are we really serious about recognition or is it all a pompous sham ? Ask managers if they consider it important to recognize individuals and their efforts, and there is a very high probability that you will get all positive responses. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover the truth, and who really is walking the talk. One makes recognition a priority when she has the time to think about it. For the second, recognizing his team members means getting Paneer Pizzas and Choco Lava Cakes ordered for lunch once (or twice – if some rupees are left in the budget) a quarter. The third is pretty consistent in giving out rewards. Hmmm, a little too consistent, in fact. The “humdrum and so very typical” language in his “Well Done” emails and the inevitable 500 Rupee gift certificate are kind of a running joke among his team members – a more of a “Whose turn is it next” game that gets played out every week.
Recognition to strengthen your team’s performance can’t be arbitrary and aimless, neither can it be generic. So what characterizes effective recognition?
Effective recognition is tailored
Recognition that could apply to anyone doesn’t leave anybody feeling recognized. What’s meaningful to one employee can vary significantly when it comes to another. Someone might really value face time with the CEO or an internal transfer to a high visibility project as recognition for his efforts. Whereas someone else might get a kick out of a directive to take a day off, courtesy of the company.
Awards should be such that they stand for something. Something unique. Something meaningful. Something that can’t be bought at a store.
How good is CASH when it comes to the above? It is the easiest award to dole out. Cash awards, tend NOT to be as worthwhile as Thank You’s unless they are quite substantial (say above 10000 Rupees). Instead of using the money to buy something memorable, most people just use it to pay bills and quickly forget about its significance. Cash is unlikely to make an employee feel appreciated as effectively as an award item.
Effective recognition is thoughtful
Dispensing rewards equally without regard to the extent of the employee’s effort or the magnitude of the employee’s achievement is surely not helping anybody’s cause. Someone whose two-month-long project unearthed an opportunity to save 50 Lac annually receiving the same reward as someone coming over the weekend to get a critical integration working is, hmmm…..a slap in the face.
An act of recognition does not have to be expensive to be memorable, neither does it have to be time consuming. Recognition is also not something that can comes only in packaged award programs? Managers who earn the most trust from their people do so with many simple but powerful actions – whether it be sending a a sincere hand-written thank-you note, or taking a moment in the weekly staff meeting to highlight their actions.
Awards are earned. Awards should be cherished. They need to appeal to the employees’ higher needs, increasing the aspirational, and in turn motivational value. They are a symbol of achievement, serving as a constant reminder, a source of encouragement to all employees.
The most sought after awards have bragging rights attached. And they always will.