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Performance
January 31, 2023

The 4 steps to implementing a recognition culture

Larissa Diener
Larissa Diener
Perdoo
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The 4 steps to implementing a recognition culture

A good recognition culture places a strong emphasis on acknowledging and appreciating the contributions and accomplishments of employees.

Here are the three most important reasons for implementing a healthy recognition culture at your company:

  • Retain employees.
    When employees feel that their efforts are recognized and appreciated, they are more likely to be satisfied with their job and less likely to leave the company.
  • Foster the growth and development of individual team members.
    By providing recognition for various achievements and milestones, employees can feel motivated to continue learning and improve their skills.
  • Contribute to the bottom line.
    When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to be productive and engaged. So a recognition culture will also have a positive impact on the bottom line of a company.

Convinced? Below is a simple, four-step guide to implementing a healthy and impactful recognition culture in your team or organization!

Step 1: Reflect on the current state of recognition in your organization

Before implementing or improving your recognition culture, it’s important to take stock of the current state of recognition within your organization. To do this, as an organization, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do our direct reports receive enough recognition for the work they do?
  • In what situations do we find it difficult to practice recognition?
  • What resources do we have available to implement or improve our recognition culture?

Answering these questions can help you identify any areas that may need improvement, as well as any potential challenges that you may need to address.

Step 2: Define what deserves recognition in your organization

Once you have a better understanding of the current state of recognition in your organization, the next step is to define what you believe deserves recognition. And most importantly, what you believe your team would value. This can include both tangible and intangible results.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some suggestions for how you can go about identifying and providing recognition for what you consider most important:

Give praise for intangible and tangible results

You don’t always have to have an outcome or tangible result in front of you to give praise to someone. In fact, this might come with the nature or limitations of a specific job. While it might be easy to give recognition to team members who constantly work on tangible results, ie. someone working in Sales or Expansions, it’s important to read between the lines for someone working in a more strategic role, for example.

You might not always see tangible results, but the impact of intangible input might still be huge.

Recognize someone's growth and development

Valuing someone's development in a specific area is vital. Everyone wants to become a better version of themselves, and having their manager acknowledge their growth amplifies this.

Reflect on the team member's journey at the company or in a specific role, and highlight the ways in which they have improved, and what they’ve achieved over time. Compare them to the employee they were on their first day, highlighting their strengths, talents, and growth areas.

Give praise for diverse achievements

People tend to have a variety of different responsibilities. However, if they’re continuously recognized for the same few tasks, it might make them feel demoralized. It could indicate to them that the bulk of their work isn't appreciated or even that it goes unnoticed. Hence, it’s important to be aware of your direct reports' undertakings, and find the time to acknowledge their scope of responsibilities.

Show recognition for consistent dedication and results

While it’s important to give praise for diverse achievements, it’s also important to show recognition for consistent results in the same scope of responsibilities. We should never take any consistent efforts or performance for granted. There is always a person behind that consistency.

Recognize impact

Everyone wants to have an impact. Keep this in mind when giving praise to someone. Connect someone’s achievement to the company's strategy, goals, or even values.

Instead of saying, “Great training. We all enjoyed it”, say: 'We all loved your training. You managed to make everyone understand the topic within seconds, which our management tried to bring across to the team without any success for months. Everyone who continues to struggle with understanding the issue seems to get the bigger picture after you explained it in detail and included a role play. Your training helped eliminate misunderstandings, providing us with a great opportunity to collaborate more on strategy.”

The second example not only provides a better understanding of why the training was perceived greatly and hence deserves praise but also points out the positive outcome the training had on the entire team.

Recognize team effort

Praise doesn’t only need to be given to individual contributors, but can also be shared with teams or departments who achieved something in collaboration. In fact, it can be given to an entire company as this will imply that great team effort is not unseen and that everyone plays a role in contributing to the bigger picture.

Step 3: Establishing a recognition culture

After defining what should be recognized in your team, it’s important to find tools and structures to communicate and implement a process for recognition.

Recognition needs to start at the top and then be followed through a 360-degree approach.

As with almost any kind of change, leaders set the example and should hence mirror a strong recognition culture for the rest of the team. It's critical to create structures and systems that allow for a 360-degree approach, enabling performance to be reviewed from different perspectives.

A 360-degree review entails the following: a self, manager, and peer review. While a manager to direct report review is most common, conducting a self-review, and receiving peer feedback can provide a full spectrum view of an employee's performance. In doing so the manager has more insight into the employee's contributions that they may not have interactions with or those that get naturally overseen.

Have a platform in place to give recognition to all levels of employees.

Having a tool in place that makes it easy for everyone to give recognition to peers or reports can help in building a stronger recognition culture. It makes it easier to show timely recognition timely. You don’t have to wait on meetings to give a shout-out. And at times, some efforts deserve public recognition. You can now publicly praise your direct reports or peers by giving Kudos in Perdoo.

A balance between recognition systems and genuine feedback.

Having technical systems and processes in place to facilitate recognition processes is important, but it should never become a blocker for genuine or spontaneous recognition that can be given in person or on the spot. Timely and personal feedback is often appreciated the most.

Know how your team likes to be recognized.

To make recognition personal and meaningful, we need to ensure that recognition is received by a team member in the best possible way. It is important to know your team member(s). Does the team member like to be praised publicly in an All-Hands meeting or privately in a 1:1? Or perhaps this might even depend on the type of recognition? This is something that can be found out either during an onboarding process or simply by having a meaningful conversation with the team member about this in a 1:1.

Furthermore, asking your team for feedback regarding your recognition culture will have a huge impact as nobody knows better than your team if they feel recognized and how your recognition culture could be improved further. Speak about this with your team members in 1:1s or run regular satisfaction surveys with your team to see how you are actually doing regarding your recognition culture and incorporate their feedback as best as possible.

Practical ideas on how to show recognition to employees:

Below are some actionable ideas to help you build a recognition-rich company culture.

  • Recognize your team members publicly by sending a Kudos on Slack or your tool of choice.
  • Recognize your team member publicly in an All-Hands meeting or/and 1:1.
  • Send a monthly/quarterly/bi-annual message/email with shoutouts where you mention every team member’s biggest achievements/efforts for this specific time frame.
  • Show appreciation to your team by organizing a retreat at an offsite location or team events.
  • Praise in action by giving more responsibilities or even a promotion after your team member met or exceeded expectations.
  • Show public recognition through social media posts.
  • Personalized praise through cards.
  • Show recognition for anniversaries through a personal shoutout by the manager combined with a card signed by them and/or a gift.
  • Celebrate personal events, such as birthdays, weddings, baby showers, etc.
  • Express gratitude by recognizing your team through stock options, and additional bonuses, either as team bonuses or individual ones.
  • Recognize the team through personalized gifts. An alternative could be donations for a social or environmental organization of your employee's choice.
  • Show appreciation through extra time off, for example, surprise the team with an entire day or week off, or give individuals time off.
  • Give managers a budget to be able to take the team out for lunch or when working remotely, order it for them.
  • Have team awards, where colleagues can be nominated that went above and beyond, for example, on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Step 4: Commit to implementing a recognition culture

Implementing a recognition culture requires effort and commitment from leadership and all levels of the organization. It is important that everyone within the company buys into the idea and is willing to actively participate in recognizing the contributions of their colleagues.

To ensure that a recognition culture takes root and becomes a regular part of company culture, it may be helpful to establish clear guidelines and expectations for how to give recognition to employees and peers. And, regularly communicate the importance of recognition to the entire organization.

To summarize, there are several benefits that organizations can derive from the establishment of a recognition culture. By creating a culture that values and appreciates the contributions of employees, organizations can foster a positive and supportive work environment that benefits both individuals and the organization as a whole.

Conducting the 4 steps is a great starting point when looking to implement a recognition culture. However, in the end, what a good recognition culture looks like depends a lot on the company, team, and even organizational setup. Hence, you should implement recognition systems that match your company culture. Recognition practices that are used in an office/hybrid setup might not work for a remote company, for example.

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