Looking for a World Class Recognition Program?

 

The Complete 7-Part Report

Part 1 

This is the first stage of our 7-Part series designed to give you enough information to establish a world class employee recognition program in your own business. I have tried to make this report easy to read and understand with lots of little examples. However, it is 7 parts long so get yourself a LARGE cup of coffee and lets explore this important topic together.

So Why is Recognition Important?

It has been widely accepted that people have an inherent need to be recognised and that genuine recognition is a far stronger motivator than money. Employees who are recognized for their contributions will be even more committed to helping the organisation meet its goals. 

Recognition shows them that their individual and collective contributions make a difference and are valued. Praise is a very effective and inexpensive management tool, and should be used extensively. But make sure your praise is genuine!

 

Our 7-Part Series Summary – The 3 C’s Approach

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This 7-Part series provides a summary of background research, best practice recognition systems, practical examples and failures experienced, especially from our own Thai Silk Magic group, plus a series of key principles designed to give you the opportunity to implement your own successful recognition program. 

This series was designed to be easy to read, understand and implement but I do not profess to be a practicing professional business consultant. At Thai Silk Magic we err on the side of the 3 C’s – common sense, communication and cooperation in all our major decisions.

Why Did We Create this Series of Articles?

 

Maybe you have been struggling to introduce an effective recognition program. We certainly were at Thai silk Magic so when we finally learned most of our lessons and overcame our many failures, we thought sharing our knowledge and experiences could be of some help and interest to our readers – and maybe save you some time and money as well! 

Although we operate a small Thai silk business in a remote rural village in far North Eastern Thailand, and our weavers are not employees, the experiences we had (and are still having) plus the stacks of research we did, enabled us to develop our successful Thai Silk Magic recognition program. 

We recognize that our operation is significantly less complicated than a typical corporate entity, or even that of a small size company. However, our recognition program is based on principles that can be applied to even the largest corporations (If they are prepared to really listen!). These principles are universal as wherever people work the need for individual and team

Learn from Our Mistakes

Even though I am Thai and come from this village, one of the first things I had to learn is that people will not react predictably when faced with new situations and new opportunities. The issues we encountered; the sometimes stupid and ignorant mistakes that we made; and the resulting solutions required a steep learning curve and lots of close working with our team of Thai silk weavers. We will share some of these with you in this 7-Part series. One principle we learned very early in the process was to “never assume anything!”

Everyday during the establishment period of Thai Silk Magic we faced the challenge of misunderstanding (or maybe even mistrust) about our key mission. 

Thai Silk Magic Key Mission

 

Our key mission is the improvement of the lifestyles of our very proud, yet financially poor village. We plan to achieve this by sharing all profits, after expenses with each and every weaver PLUS recognizing individuals and teams for outstanding commitment and support.· 

The people in our village had absolutely no idea of the workings of a business, even less an understanding of the potential world of internet shopping and could not relate to or believe that, with excellent workmanship and dedication, they could more than double their monthly family income from weaving. 

The solution was to establish our group on a step-by-step basis being careful to involve our village weavers at all times. Then we started to build our Thai Silk Magic website and with great sensitivity built a reward compensation program and a recognition program that linked our key mission personally to each and every one of them. 

We made many mistakes and had some complete failures along the way. It was a steep learning curve but we were determined to succeed so with more research and greater understanding we finally implemented our recognition program.

 

 

Watch Out for the Little Things!

 

Motivated and enthusiastic weavers and employees are the key elements of all successful organizations.However, never assume that a good compensation plan is all that is required to achieve your corporate goals and objectives. 

Quite often it is the little things in the work place that determine the productivity and growth you seek. These “little things” like appropriate employee appreciation and genuine, timely words of thanks, can have a major impact. Companies with well constructed and effectively implemented employee recognition programs are reaping the huge benefits of a happy and productive work place. 

Please note that compensation is a “right” whereas recognition is a “gift”. Careful evaluation of any award programs is also essential as it is critical to understand the difference between “reward” and “recognition.” 

Recognition creates role models and heroes for your organization whether it be a large corporate or a small family business. So lets get started and I hope you find this series of articles helpful and stimulating.

What are the Key Targets of a World Class Recognition Program?

The “targets” of any recognition system are the kinds of behaviors and outcomes which the recognition system is designed to reinforce. 

For a world-class recognition program the targets can be seen as a logical extension of the broader concept of the “learning organisation”. In order to create and develop with change a company must be a continual “learning organization”. 

Be acutely aware, if your organization is not continually learning then it has already started to die!

3 Important Behavior Types You Need to Recognise

 

In particular there are three types of behavior which many organizations, aware of the critical importance of continuous learning, seek to recognize:

 

  • Creating Knowledge - identifying new opportunities, developing them, and implementing them (at Thai Silk Magic we encourage and publicly recognize all innovative natural dyeing techniques or creative pattern making concepts)
  • Transforming Knowledge - outstanding teamwork and/or collaboration with clients (great teamwork is a critical component of our cooperative and our village work ethics play an important role in our success)
  • Sharing Knowledge - supporting, coaching, facilitating other employees to achieve higher performance, and/or ensuring that knowledge is transferred and used

 

Our Research·

The three classes of behavior identified will be examined from 2 viewpoints: 

1. Internal consistency and reliability – i.e. do the categories fit together and “make sense” in and of themselves

2. Capacity to relate behaviors to tangible categories

Internal Consistency

Careful examination of many freely available senior management survey results indicates that teamwork is important – in itself. It isn’t “knowledge” as such that is the focus but, more importantly, it is the processes (performance management, empowerment) and structures (e.g. team structures) that spread knowledge. These have been identified as the key targets for recognition. 

Confusion and miscommunication will occur if these underlying concepts are not successfully translated into clear, tangible, selection criteria. Always try to make the link between the corporate outcomes you seek and the behavior you recognize, absolutely crystal clear.

 

Even though I am a strong believer in common sense there are times when I needed to do some research in order to make my simple mind understand some of the underlying reasons why people think and react in certain ways. Just call me nosy but now I do appreciate a little more why some things work and some don’t. 

My recent research has indicated that there are 4 “drivers” for the development of a learning organization. It must be stressed that these are not theoretical categories but tested, tangible indicators of progress in any learning organization, and they make sense in our current turbulent environment. Not taking these “drivers” into consideration will spell disaster for any recognition program and in the long run, for the organization itself.

Relating Behaviors to Tangible Categories

 

My simple research also indicated that these 4 key “drivers” or categories are also directly related to some of the major concerns of business owners. The categories are:

 

1. Strategic Climate:

The degree to which management ensures that employees are aware of their strategic position and their specific role in the success of the company; and can act on the basis of this awareness with customers, suppliers and other teams.

2. Learning Climate:

 

The degree to which employees can, and do, participate actively in learning

3. Work Climate:

The degree to which management and non management create a work climate which encourages teamwork, information sharing, customer focus and a high degree of alignment between corporate direction, goals and performance measures. 

One key issue here is to overcome the tendency to hoard information. For some people information is power. However, your organization will suffer if knowledge and learning does not permeate all levels of your business. Of course, the knowledge spread must be applicable to the role and responsibility of the people concerned. Just make sure your management staff are not treating their subordinates like mushrooms!

 

4. Level of Effective Devolution:

 

This is a fancy way of saying the amount of control and responsibility that is handed down by management. It is the degree to which management enables employees to make decisions and act effectively on the basis of their understanding of their roles and tasks. Simple lesson – allow people to make mistakes or they will never learn anything!·

 

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Part 2

 

 

This is the second stage of our 7-Part series and it looks at some development steps to follow as you start to build your world class program. We provide examples and experiences from our Thai Silk Magic cooperative to help understanding and show that the process is not that difficult.

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Development Steps for Your Recognition Program 

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The following are 3 benchmarks for best practice recognition that must have systems to discriminate between:

  1. Management targets and non-management targets – management’s role is to lead, and establish the context within which employees work as individuals and teams. The function of management is different, and this needs to be continually re-enforced.
  2. Ends and means – good recognition systems target both the direction the organization wants to reinforce (goals or objectives), and the kinds of behavior which the organization wants to reinforce (techniques, structures, processes, communication)
  3. Development and implementation – good recognition systems provide higher levels of recognition for the successful implementation of an innovation. Ideas are great and should always be encouraged but far too often they are pushed aside, neglected or ignored. So implement a recognition program that encourages innovation but as well requires ideas to be successfully implemented prior to any significant recognition.

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Thai Silk Magic Examples

At Thai Silk Magic we always encourage new ideas and approaches to every single part of our silk making process. However, when an idea is shown to be commercially practical and/or can create different marketing opportunities then we get excited and make sure the recognition is given immediately – usually in the form of a simple award function at a restaurant in a city not too far from our village and always with our village leader in attendance. The attendance of our village leader was very important as in our village he is very highly respected for his good leadership skills. 

A recent example of this related to our silk spinning processes that are an extremely labor intensive and time consuming procedure. Be aware that these processes have been handed down from grandmothers and great-grandmothers so they are almost sacrosanct! 

But time means money, even in a remote Thai village so when one of our weavers took the mechanical parts of a simple electric fan and applied them successfully to her spinning wheel she found that her spinning time was reduced by more than 40%. This simple innovation still maintained the unique handmade qualities of our silk but significantly improved our productivity. She was recognized that month as Thai Silk Magic’s “most helpful supporter.”

Combining the above 3 best practice benchmarks with the 4 drivers of any learning organization mentioned in Part 1 of this series (Strategic Climate, Learning Climate, Work Climate and Level of Effective Devolution), provides your platform for achieving best practice. The first key result area is NEW knowledge that is successfully applied to outcomes which further corporate directions, by either:

 

Importance of New Knowledge

 

 

  • Improving existing ways of doing things (so that products are more profitable, and/or of higher quality) – essentially continuous improvement, or
  • Developing new ways of doing things so that new products are possible; and/or existing products are qualitatively more profitable and/or of higher quality. This is essentially non-continuous/breakthrough improvement.

Then there is the creation of new knowledge which has widely accepted potential to improve processes, or develop new ones.

It’s important for any organization (large or small) to very clearly indicate the kinds of behavior an organization will increasingly expect from managers and other employees.

Two other key factors to consider in developing a recognition program are:

“Participation” which is the degree to which non-management take up the opportunities made available to them and 

“Dissemination” which is the degree to which management and non-management actively disseminate/share information rather than just hoarding it for themselves.In addition to discriminating between achievements which represent continuous improvement and those which represent breakthrough improvement, management or senior management (in the case of large corporations) will also need to specify three kinds of outcomes which learning/knowledge should be applied to:

 

Our Program Benefits

 

This recognition program concept has a number of benefits:

1. It discriminates between potential and achievement

2. It clearly discriminates between means and ends

3. It can be tailored to suit local conditions, while ensuring that corporate, strategic direction is maintained

4. It discriminates between management and non-management responsibilities – to the advantage of both groups

5. The means can be made tangible immediately.

6. The ends should be defined by a Corporate-wide process which for a large organization, should be regionally administered. 

 

  1. Production. That is, innovations which increase the efficiency and profitability of your production in existing markets, either in incremental, or in breakthrough fashion.

 

  1. Development. That is, innovations which lead to the development of new skills, new products, new markets, and increased quality, either in incremental, or in breakthrough fashion.
  2. Satisfaction. That is, innovations which lead to the development of increased loyalty, morale and motivation among employees and/or customer and/or suppliers and/or other stakeholders, either in incremental, or major breakthrough steps.

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Part 3

This 3rd stage of our 7-Part series gives you the first 2 key principles that all successful recognition programs MUST address. In this article we provide generic and specific Thai Silk Magic examples to aid in understanding and fully appreciating these critical principles.

BEST PRACTICE IN RECOGNITION SYSTEMS

According to International Survey Research (ISR) international surveys of employee attitudes reveal that “recognition for good performance” is the third priority for workers, after “being treated with fairness and respect” and “job security”. 

While 70% of employees rate recognition as “very important”, only 37% are satisfied with recognition they are getting.

In a recent national US survey, conducted by Robert Half International, “limited praise and recognition” was ranked as the primary reason why employees leave their jobs today – ahead of “poor compensation”, “limited authority” and “personality conflicts”.

PRAISE: Personalized, Real, Appropriate, Immediate, Specific, Exact

Let’s look at the first 2 of many key principles that should be considered, discussed and agreed upon prior to constructing your recognition program.

1. To be most effective your recognition program should be implemented as a planned program of activities with defined goals. 
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Organizational goals for recognition should: 

  • Reinforce the ways the organization works together, as a corporate unit, as well as regional businesses (if you are a large organization)
  • Promote your key corporate values; and
  • Be linked to the organization’s mission statement, its strategic direction, its business plans and its performance management system.

2. Identify clearly WHAT has to be accomplished and HOW:

 

Before an organization designs recognition programs, it must first decide what it is willing to recognize. This is not an easy step and may well require a lot of inter-department communication for a large company. You need to clarify:

What results (ends) does it need employees to produce, and what types of behaviors (means) must they demonstrate? How the results are accomplished is just as important as what is accomplished. 

Designing effective programs requires a clear understanding of the organisation – its culture, its principles of governance, its strategic direction and its business operations – and working from that understanding.

Some Generic Examples to Consider:

If one strategic goal is to change the culture from an entitlements culture to a performance culture, then the organization’s reward program must truly pay for performance, and the recognition program must recognize results achieved, not the amount of effort expended. 

On the other hand, it has to be stressed that one of the strengths of recognition is that it does more than increase output (which is the target of reward programs) – it can also produce long term change in the employee, and reward program’s just cannot do this. 

It is very important to maintain this distinction between reward and recognition, and to understand that the “results” being recognized must include personal or process “results”, not simply output achieved.

 

 

 

Specific Thai Silk Magic Examples:

 

At Thai Silk Magic we have in addition to our fair pay wage rates, both a monetary bonus (reward-based) program based on the quantity of high quality silk created and sold each month PLUS a recognition program whereby each month the weavers determine who has been the most helpful in the team and they are the guest-of-honor at our monthly dinner. 

In addition, each weaver has their photograph and a small bio attached to every fabric order they have created and is subsequently delivered to our customers all around the world. The interesting thing is that the weavers value the recognition program significantly higher than the monetary reward program! 

They love the idea that our customers will know some personal details about who created their fabrics in far away Thailand.

 

Team

 

Recognition

If Senior Management really values teams and wants to encourage them, it must develop programs which specifically recognize and reward team accomplishments and behavior. Team awards may involve recognizing customer service, or a team’s impact on productivity or profit of your organization. 

If a line manager is expected to work as a team member, then the organization must have in place programs that recognize team skills and accomplishments. However, if results only depend on independent actions, the organization should focus on programs which recognize individual performance

If Senior Management expects staff to continually expand their skills and knowledge, it must design recognition and reward systems which encourage and endorse these accomplishments when they occur. 

Companies use skill-based recognition and reward for several purposes: to expand workforce skills, to increase employee flexibility, and to encourage continuous learning. However, each company designs these programs in different ways to best fit its distinct culture.

 

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Part 4

The 4th stage in our 7-Part series discusses 3 more critical principles that you should cover as part of developing your program. Again we have used some experiences and examples from our Thai Silk Magic group to assist in your understanding. 

3 More Key Principles of a World Class Recognition Program

In this article we discuss 3 more key principles to keep in mind when creating your own recognition program. We recommend you give serious consideration to how recognition should be given, to whom, by whom, for what and when? Remember recognition should be a continuous process in order to be most effective.

1. Recognition should be given frequently but on a timely basis

 

Recognition is increasingly seen as an ongoing activity through which people express their appreciation for each others value and contributions, rather than a one-time event, associated with a special occasion. At Thai Silk Magic cooperative we have witnessed some extraordinary examples of this with our weavers often going to phenomenal lengths to support the team after some very simple recognition had been bestowed on them.

An Example from Thai Silk Magic

 

One particular example of this at Thai Silk Magic was a weaver who had been recently recognized as the “outstanding helper of the month.” Unbeknown to anyone else, in the middle of the night during a very severe monsoon thunderstorm, she braved the incredibility adverse conditions to collect some specific natural dye materials (that we desperately wanted) wading in dark and dangerous murky water up to her waist in the middle of the night. What a fantastic example of support and good work ethics!

We all knew that this very special natural dye material could only be found at night when it was raining but on such an extremely adverse evening, no one expected this to happen. This was an incredible show of support and the recognition awarded by our team was immediate and superb (She was given pride of place at next our monthly meeting to be presented with a month’s supply of jasmine rice, received a personal luncheon invitation from our village leader and was invited as a guest speaker to our local village school to talk about “The Importance of Teamwork”).

 

The Inherent Need for Recognition


It has been shown that people have an inherent need to be recognized and that recognition is a strongermotivator than money. Employees who are recognized for their contributions will be even more committed to helping the organization meet its goals. 

Recognition shows them that their individual and collective contributions make a difference and are valued. Praise is a very effective and inexpensive management tool, and should be used extensively. But make sure your praise is genuine!

Recognition of any accomplishment worthy of being noticed must be given as soon as possible. Any delays will send negative signals that your organization is not interested in such accomplishments and even worse, that you are not interested in your employees! After all a simple “Thank you” takes no time and little effort but can make a huge difference to the recipient.

 

2. Recognition should NOT just be for outstanding achievements

 

If you decide to only recognize outstanding or remarkable achievements (which MUST be recognized) then you severely limit the scope of your program. Superb results are wonderful but so are process improvements or unheralded community service work being achieved by your staff. 

Remember that your “top performers” at the moment were not always so skilled and they have improved their skills over time often making mistakes and learning the hard way – or with high levels of self-initiative. You must recognize self development as an integral part of your learning organization as not everybody possesses these high levels of self-initiative but they can be learned. 

A good recognition program will support all types of learning but make sure that the behaviors are valuable to your business. Someone performing wonderful community service is fine but you do need to see some value to your organization before deciding to recognize and possibly award these behaviors. 

Always include in your recognition program less formal arrangements that will enable continual reinforcement of all valued behaviours and not just rely on “big ticket” formal functions that celebrate all outstanding achievements. Not everyone is a winner but everyone can and should be encouraged for even small scale value-adds.

 

3. No employees should be denied the opportunity for recognition

 

Look at your organization and do you see groups or people who have never been considered for recognition. These people may not only be, for example, the garage attendant but what about your senior management? All too often people are denied the opportunity to be recognized because people have not taken the time to notice, or the thinking is that senior management “have enough perks already!” 

Everyone needs, appreciates and responds to recognition irrespective of their position in your organization. So make sure you enable everyone to be involved in your recognition program as the last thing you need in these difficult economic times are employees who are feeling neglected or unappreciated. Motivated employees are critical to your success and your recognition program must endorse this key principle.

This is not to say that management, employees, suppliers and customers should all be recognized for the same kinds of results, or the same kind of behavior. While some behavior may be universal, managers, non-mangers, suppliers and customers play different roles in the life of an organization, and they seek different outcomes.

If anything, managers who “break the mold”, and really demonstrate exceptional leadership skills, or effective delegation, need recognition more than most – because of the pervasive influence of short term thinking and territoriality. 

Managers should be recognized primarily because of the kind of operating/task environment which they establish for the teams/individuals who they are responsible, and for their ability to display teamwork/information sharing with their peers. 

On the other hand, there will be times when managers and non-managers should share rewards which recognize exceptional effort. For example successful breakthroughs in cost, performance or quality should lead to recognition for all the players.

 

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Part 5

Stage 5 in our 7-Part series gives you 6 more key principles to discuss and come up with your own interpretations as part of building the basis of your recognition program. We again used some experiences gained from developing our own Thai Silk Magic program. 

6 Additional Key Principles of a World Class Recognition Program

It is important to spend the time now to collaborate with all concerned parties (management, staff and even customers), clarify and gain consensus on a range of items that will form the basis of your recognition program. In this article we provide 6 more important principles for you to consider and discuss prior to finalizing your recognition program.

 

1. Teams as well as individuals should be eligible for recognition

 

For any organization’s success the contribution of both individuals and teams are essential. Some organizations will have more importance placed on say, teamwork, simply because of the nature of their operation. This is understandable and outstanding team efforts should be recognized but not at the expense of completely ignoring individual efforts. 

Do not ignore the possible contributions to your community made by your employees. If these behaviors also benefit your organisation in any way, then it is very important to include these in your recognition program.

 

2. All recognition should be genuine and appropriate

 

Make sure you are aware of the preferences of any award recipient, especially in relation to the type of award and the presentation format. Some people are extremely shy and would not appreciate a presenter “going on and on” about their achievements. Personalize the presentation as much as possible and it is essential to clearly show the value to the organization of all performances recognized.

 

3. Publicly recognize all recognition

Even though some recipients may be shy or retiring, it is important to publicize your awards as much as possible. Heroes and success build your organization and fully deserve their award honors. In doing so you will create role models as well as showing everyone that you really value your employees.

 

4. If you condone poor or non-performance then your recognition program is doomed!

 

Poor performing employees (lazy, incompetent or perhaps disengaged from your organization) will undermine any recognition program. It is impossible to conduct a recognition program that focuses on outstanding employee behaviors, if at the same time you are not openly supporting, encouraging and applying reasonable performance standards. 

Just think of the cynicism of your employees if you have 2 sets of standards operating in your work environment. This creates not only cynicism but also confusion, lack of faith in senior management and loss of belief in the strategic directions of your organization.

 

5. Never try to use your recognition program for performance appraisal.

Recognition is given for a range of valued behaviors that are deemed to be of value to your organization. Usually this recognition relates to a particular effort or achievement. However, irrespective how important the effort being recognized was, it will never cover the entire range of requirements of an employee. Recognition does not include an assessment of an employee’s ability and skills – this is the role of a performance appraisal and the two should never be confused or even worse, integrated.

 

6. Allow some personal expression and use symbolism

 

Permitting employees to choose among several options allows for personal expression. The trend is toward more, rather than fewer, choices. Some awards have unique or unusual appeal and are commonly chosen across the country. Others are more preferred by employees of one gender or within certain geographic regions. 

At Thai Silk Magic we asked our weavers to come up with what they regarded as the most interesting choices for our recognition system. Of course, being an isolated rural community in a third world country meant that their options were limited by their worldly experience. 

However, the key issue was that THEY determined the awards (as well as contributing significantly towards the selection process) and for them the awards were both exciting and meaningful. It’s amazing just how important a photograph with our village leader or being interviewed by in prime-time by our local radio station can be. 

Companies devising a recognition program should ask how the award will affect recipients, presenters and the company. 

By carefully considering each award option, any organization can ensure their program will be well-received and appreciated.

 

THE Most Important Factor for Recognition Awards

 

The most important single factor in determining which awards to include is not what the award is, but what it is “expected to do”. Recognition for something is permanent and important as a person’s career should be more than just another piece of consumer merchandise. A valuable and lasting award can be equated with the worth of the employee’s contribution. 

There are times when awards can be a complete surprise to the recipients and if they are carefully chosen, perhaps unique and for example, say handmade, then these awards will be truly appreciated and memorable. 

Awards that also symbolize the relationship between employer and employee have permanent value, which is why many recognition awards carry the company logo or symbol.

 

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Part 6

You are getting close to finalising your program and in this, the 6th stage of our 7-Part series we focus on the important issues of program design and content for your recognition program. As with the other articles in the series, we have included some simple yet specific examples to illustrate how easy it is to implement. 

Design and Content for Your Recognition Program

 

1. Ensure you get everyone in your organization involved and committed.

 

You may already have some clear ideas about what sort of behaviors should be recognized but to implement these without any employee consultation will surely result in a total lack of commitment – and even create mistrust as people will not believe you are genuine. 

Always seek input from your employees at all levels about what they consider to be important and how best to recognize these efforts. You may be pleasantly surprised at the willingness of your people to provide you with lots of valuable input – so don’t forget to ask them. In doing so, you will also engender support and commitment to your program.

 

 

Another Thai Silk Magic Example

 

As mentioned in other parts of this series, our weavers at Thai Silk Magic not only determined the choice of awards but also were heavily involved in deciding what behaviors we should recognize and how best to ensure we all learned from the experience. 

But this was not always the case! One of the biggest mistakes we made earlier in our program was deciding on the choice of awards without consultation. Just imagine our dismay and shock in seeing that some of our initial awards were treated with laughter and disinterest. 

After all we had gone to a lot of trouble (and expense) to provide a range of small household electrical items for awards as this seemed to be inline with our key mission of helping to improve our village lifestyles. Enough said if I tell you that all the instructions were in English and even worse, some of our recipients did not have power connected to their homes! We all learned very quickly from these ignorant and stupid mistakes.

 

2. Make sure everyone has a part to play

 

A good recognition program should be both visible and transparent – this is essential to avoid any potential “conflicts of interest” or perceived “levels of favoritism”). Many organizations have good performers who also happen to distrust management so the more visible and transparent the better.

Design your program to be simple and very easy to understand and make sure you involve all your key stakeholders (customers, suppliers if appropriate and employees of all levels). 

To maximize involvement and support have your employees trained to run the program and in so doing they will take responsibility for its success. 

Making your program as simple as possible should include ideas and activities that should be noticed and perhaps recognized. A lot of these practical ideas will have come from your previous consultations but make sure the ideas are communicated fully as this will help people to buy-in and give them confidence to nominate potential recognition award recipients. In addition, provide continual encouragement and feedback to management staff that show their support and participation in your program.

Program content

1. Have a range of behaviors, activities and awards

 

Your program should be simple but as wide ranging as possible in order to have the most timely and appropriate forms of recognition. Having small gatherings, informal and major award functions should enable you to cover the majority of recognition award circumstances

The simplest award level will be personal acknowledgment for examples of valued actions and behaviors such as providing a particular customer with great service or having a team that solved a small but long-time nagging process problem. 

Apart from a personal “well done” or “thank you”, managers could provide some sort of inexpensive award like a pen with a corporate logo or a hand written note of praise and thanks. The praise could even be given publicly at a small gathering in the recipient’s work area. The key issue is to recognize and acknowledge and not ignore because of time constraints or work load pressure. Just do it! 

If the behaviors and efforts being recognized are for contributions made over a longer period of time then these could be either monetary or non-monetary awards. The actual monetary value of such awards will vary according to the particular organization but they should be more than just a corporate logo gift – keeping it as personalized as possible, try to make the gift meaningful and memorable.

For awards that recognize major achievements that have been of extreme value to your organization. It is critical to have the presentations done in a formal way as a ceremonious occasion that is well publicized in advance. 

Formal award presentations should be attended by important members of your organization (in the case of Thai Silk Magic, our village leader), and if feasible and practical, the recipient’s family members. 

This level of awards presentation requires careful planning and an inspiring environment. If possible, invite members of the press to ensure the widest possible exposure of your hero’s achievements. Remember outstanding role models are important to your business future.

2. Don’t ignore the chance to recognise customers and suppliers.

 

Customers and suppliers can make significant contributions to your business. If this is the case then you should consider recognizing them as well. Whether you mention them on your Facebook Fan page and/or your regular newsletter, send formal letters of appreciation or invite them to some of your other awards functions (where you should also publicly acknowledge them).

 

3. Always communicate your award recipient’s behaviors

 

Irrespective of the level of award, all recognized behaviors must be communicated. Maybe place a message and

 photo in your company newsletter or email all your staff or give coverage on your website – the way you communicate will be determined by the importance and significance you place on these achievements. 

NOTE: In the next and final stage of this 7 part series we will cover the critical issues of performance indicators and review processes for your employee recognition program. There is nothing more devastating for a business than to have a recognition program that is no longer appreciated or is verging on the role of performance management. All recognition programs have a “use by date” and in the final part of this series we will cover the critical issues of how to assess and review your existing recognition program.

 

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Part 7

This is the last segment of our 7 Part series on how to create your own world class employee recognition program. In this stage we will look at the critical issues of performance indicators and review processes for your recognition program. 

There is nothing more damaging than having a recognition program that is no longer appreciated or not working as it was intended. Never be afraid to make the changes necessary to ensure your key principles of recognition are still being applied.

Hopefully the research, ideas, principles and examples covered in this series have provided you with the interest, enthusiasm and commitment to implement your own World Class recognition program. 

At Thai Silk Magic we recognized the vital importance of an effective recognition program and in no small way this was because we introduced a completely new way of doing business to these wonderfully talented weavers in our village. 

We desperately wanted our weavers to believe in our key mission of improving the lifestyles of our village, accept our new organization’s approach to conducting business and above all trust us with their wonderful Thai silk creations. An essential part of this process was the implementation of our recognition program that was created by our weavers and for our weavers!

If you are still a little confused just remember that compensation is a “right” but recognition is a “gift”. 

Performance Indicators and Review Processes for Your Recognition Program

 

Who wants to know?

 

A variety of stakeholders within the organization will need to know if the recognition programs are working. The challenge is to find measurement processes that provide the necessary information, but do not burden the organization. Senior managers will want to know if the recognition activities are being used effectively and if they are achieving the intended results. 

Employees are also interested in this information. They generally want to know if the organization is fulfilling its promises and how their office activity compares to that of other offices in their region and across the country. 

In addition, it is essential that the organization asks its employees regularly whether the program is meeting their needs. The results should be published and the necessary modifications made. The chief financial officer will want to know if the programs are cost effective, and whether they should be continued. Middle managers will want some criteria against which they can judge their performance on an ongoing basis.

Your Review Process

Recognition programs are only as good as the achievements (ends) and the behaviors (means) they serve to reinforce. Senior Management will need to continually review its programs to determine their continued viability, because as the operating environment changes at an ever-increasing rate, corporate strategies and operations will also change. 

In this kind of situation you will have to continually monitor for program effectiveness. This can be done by periodically asking the following 10 viability test questions:

 

  1. Are we recognizing the right employee accomplishments?
  2. Are all our employees still eligible for recognition?
  3. Are our awards still meaningful, memorable and manageable?
  4. Do employees understand what they have to do to be recognized?
  5. Do employees see value and appreciate existing programs?
  6. Do employees perceive your program as being misused?
  7. Do employees believe the recognition is commensurate with the results achieved?
  8. Is your recognition program becoming a performance management tool?
  9. Does senior management believe the business results are worth the costs of recognition?
  10. Are you getting the behavioral change results you were hoping for?

 

What to do when your Recognition Program becomes Obsolete – And This will Happen!

When a recognition program no longer works, the organization should quickly acknowledge this and explain the problem to employees, so it can replace it with a more effective plan. 

Regardless of how much a company adjusts programs, if it is poorly designed or outdated, it will not work. Even the best designed programs eventually become obsolete. It will happen so be prepared. 

Some organiztions go so far as to write in a “self-detonating” clause automatically requiring management review of a recognition program, to ascertain whether it continues to be on target and meaningful for both the company and its employees. 

Remember the key principles we covered in setting up your program will never change. However, your answers to the various questions posed in each of these principles and your responses to these questions, will certainly change – that’s healthy. 

As part of your review process go back and look again at the key principles of all world class recognition programs, as they will guide you through your new program development.

A word of caution!

 

Never, ever perservere with your recognition program if it fails the above 10 question viability test. Maintaining an inappropriate recognition program will significantly undermine your organisation and cause major issues if not properly addressed. Recognition programs are essential but so is the need to constantly review, re-asses and eventually replace you program. 

So now you have it all….good luck with implementing your own recognition program and hopefully you will soon start to reap the significant benefits of an enthusiastic, highly motivated and supportive work environment.

 

Amnuai Beckenham
Founder
Thai Silk Magic

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