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Recognition Intervention Strategies

Keys to an Effective Recognition Program [2.5.3.b]

Regardless of whether a program is formal, informal, or a combination of both, there are several key characteristics that distinguish an effective program from an ineffective one.[1]
  • Commitment. Managers must be committed to the purpose and be willing to provide sufficient resources to support the program. Employees and supervisors must have the authority and be prepared to oversee and implement the program.
  • Relevance. An effective program must be linked to the overall mission, vision, and goals of the organization. The program should be continuously evaluated and modified; the purpose should be realigned to meet changing organization goals, and the procedures should be redesigned to reflect this new purpose.
  • Value. The program should add value to both the organization’s culture and the employees’ daily lives. This can be achieved when the program is aligned with the organization’s purpose and when the recognition provided has meaning to the employees.
  • Equity. Distribution of awards should be fair and objective. All employees who meet the criteria to receive a reward should be recognized for their accomplishments. To ensure this, some companies include employees in the process of selecting recipients.
  • Simplicity. The entire process should be maintained with minimal effort and should not be considered a burden by management or employees.
Furthermore, in order to be successful, any recognition program requires several key components.[2]
  • Documentation. In order to support a recognition program, it is important to document the program’s administration with as much specificity as possible. Protocols should identify the program’s purpose, eligibility for participation, and criteria for performance measures. This protocol should be developed with input from upper-level management, supervisors, and employees, and should be reviewed and modified to reflect the changing needs of the organization and its employees. These procedures will be used as a guide to administration, and will help to prevent and resolve any conflicts that arise.
  • Training. The art of providing recognition and reward comes naturally to very few managers and supervisors. Most need to develop skills in order to effectively recognize and reward employee contributions. Because the success of a recognition program depends on management and supervisors’ ability to provide positive feedback, training should be provided that teaches how to:
    • stress the importance of the program and explain its impact;
    • explain how the program works and how to achieve the rewards;
    • explain how employees can impact the organization’s goals;
    • recognize performance by both individuals and teams;
    • motivate and inspire employees; and
    • communicate needs, expectations, and goals. 
  • Communication. Communication is critical to any recognition program. In addition to documentation, the program needs to be communicated so all staff are aware of the program, its purpose, and any pertinent protocols and procedures. The program should be communicated in a way that is appropriate to the culture of the organization, whether via a company-wide meeting, departmental meetings, or in an email or memo.
  • Accountability. Because many managers and supervisors may be resistant to a recognition program, it is important for an organization to enforce active participation in order for it to be effective. To do this, many organizations assess how well a manager or supervisor recognizes and rewards employees during the annual performance review. Furthermore, some organizations create Performance Agreements, which state that managers must actively implement the program. Knowing they will be evaluated in this dimension tends to encourage resistant managers to actively utilize the program. (See also Performance Appraisal Overview [2.10.1c6] and Performance Agreements [2.10.1.c22].)

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