Employee Recognition: Acknowledging Uniqueness
Subject: Motivation, Employee Recognition, Management, Reward System, Motivational
All of us, no matter who it is, wants to be recognized for something. Something special that contributes to creating and reflects who we are. Many people who volunteer to join organizations are looking to contribute some of their time and energy to a given endeavor that they perceive as worth their time. These people draw their identity from this by knowing the: who, what, where, when and how they are making a difference.
In business, people who work are looking for the same type of belonging. They want to be identified with something. The paradox in business is that we all need to work together for some common goal (growing the company, developing new products or process, implementing a new service and so on), but at the same time we want to be recognized for our individual contribution. We want to be recognized for our uniqueness. Why? We all believe that whatever we contribute is unique and cannot be duplicated. It is unique to us and we wrap ourselves in that idea of self-conceit to make us feel better.
We are egoist in the sense that we feel that our contributions are of exceptional importance. Laurence Peter said “there are two kinds of egoist: Those who admit it and the rest us.” Money is a powerful incentive, but so too is recognition. People respond to recognition, and unlike money, it costs are measured in a whole different way. Many people who get awards seem to thrive off being recognized and not the financial side.
Recognition from your peers is the highest form of validation that your work is appreciated. To get paid for accomplishments is monetary validation. To get an award from your company or your peers is to know that your specific efforts as an individual are appreciated.
There are many types of reward that you can give employees to make them feel that their contributions are recognized and matter. When a company is small, being up close and personal is not difficult. The ‘walk-around-by-management’ style is effective. A few words of encouragement here and handshake there and employees know that you acknowledge them and that you appreciate them.
As a company gets large and multiple locations are part of the growing needs of the company, recognition has to be broken into two tiers. Local recognition by the managers is key to keeping employees content at the local levels. At the national level, it is important that the corporate board or top executives make their grateful know at the national and local level. This is easier said then done.
Another difficulty in acknowledging people is that you can’t recognize everyone without devaluing the reward itself. If you give everyone praise, then praise is a commodity, anyone can get it. It loses its value.
When it comes to rewards, employers have a license to be as creative as their budgets will allow them to be. When designing a package one has to consider the shorter and long-term impact of implementing these sort of programs. When companies fall on hard times during certain economic cycle, companies should be prepared to be able to continue these programs.
If these reward systems can be tied into and monetary incentive programs it makes it more of a powerful tool for motivating force.
ADC telecommunications, which at the time was a 22,000 people $3b company, did several things for its employees beyond the combination of three monetary program mention in section one. ADC created an annual meeting for their sales force and their top personnel who contribute to the growth of the company by the very people on the front line, the sales people. This combination had an interesting affect. Sales people are the one that use the services of employees to make sales. They are in a good position to evaluate who is helping them make a difference in sale.
During the year-end annual sales meeting, both sales and non-sales personnel were recognized. Among them were customer service people, production people, finance and so on. For many, this was their first time ever getting out of the office and enjoying the 3-5 day retreat. But more importantly, when they walked on stage to get their rewards, their peers recognized them.
The salespeople were recognized with plaques with the total number sales inscribed on them. A nice touch was their company ring in which a diamond was crafted in it every year they made their quota or sales revenue number. Salespeople wore these trinkets with pride, especially the ones with multiple diamonds. It was their brand or insignia for achieving excellent results.
The problem with this program was that every year it kept getting bigger, which was good news for the company because this meant more sales were coming in. But it got to a point were it was too big and unmanageable to the point they had to break it into two separate meetings. At this point one could see the dilution of recognition because the company could no longer take the time to recognize employee since it was more concerned with keeping the award program short.
Award ceremonies were like university graduations, where hundreds of people would be recognized by having their name called and going up on stage to get their awards. Needless to say, this was a long and excruciating process.
What started out as something nice turned into a painful orchestration of getting people up to the stage and off in record time. The incentive of recognition had been lost.
But management did not surrender to easily; they came up with a new program called the president’s council program. This was a new tier, level of recognition where only a selected from the top achievers would be taken to an offsite vacation like meeting to give the president advice on what improvement could be made to better position the company.
The task of management is to continue to find new ways to keep their employees aware that they are truly appreciated and their contributions make a difference to the company’s bottom-line.
Please forward this article; share it with a friend who may need a few words of inspiration.
Victor Antonio G., a top business motivational speaker and author of “The LOGIC of Success”.
Copyright © 2004 by Victor Antonio G. All rights reserved. This article MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of the article’s body. All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Antonio G.,
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