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How to Create Your Recognition Strategy

Posted By RPI, Tuesday, February 13, 2018
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How to Create Your Recognition Strategy

  1. Strategy first. A sustainable effective recognition program starts with strategy that includes management buy-in and a strong communication strategy.
  2. Think “objectives.” Your written recognition strategy should articulate the philosophy and objectives for all recognition practices, including day-to-day, informal, and formal recognition programs.
  3. Provide clarity. Your recognition strategy provides purpose and direction for how employee recognition encourages and rewards specific employee behaviors that advance the organization’s goals and objectives.
  4. Connect to culture. All recognition activities should be aligned with the mission and culture of the organization.
  5. Mix it up. A successful program includes intangible recognition (verbal and/or written praise), awards (cash or tangible items), and celebrations (planned or spontaneous events). Intangible recognition can be a certificate or other token of appreciation. Celebrations can be an informal team lunch or an organization-wide event.
  6. Reinforce. Reinforce. Reinforce. Successful recognition programs use a variety of motivational tools and communication methods to maximize opportunities to positively reinforce behavior that is consistent with the organization’s goals and values.
  7. Draw on the 7 Best Practice Standards. Base all of your recognition programs on the RPI 7 Best Practices® () and learn more about “real world” recognition strategies here.

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Tags:  recognition strategy 

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Empathy Is Key To Successful Employee Recognition

Posted By Jess Myers, RPI, Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A quote from Aristotle reminds us to “Know thy audience.”

But what would a philosopher who has been dead for more than 2,300 years know of the modern business and recognition world? More than you might think, Klein relates, in a 45-minute webinar he delivered for RPI in the summer of 2016. His presentation is all about empathy, and its importance in designing employee recognition programs that are effective.

“We are all designers in everything we do,” said Klein, who was formerly director of client solutions for Maritz. “We design experiences, solutions, products, and customer touchpoints. We are even designing ways to get our teenagers to do their homework.”

Any good design begins with empathy, and success comes when we know the person for whom we are designing. Experts stress the importance of knowing the whole person, not just their economic motivation.

To illustrate this need for things both monetary and non-monetary, Klein cited the work of the late Paul Lawrence and Nitin Nohria of the Harvard University School of Business. In their book “Driven” the authors note four drivers of human behavior:

  • Acquire – the need to collect things, status and possessions
  • Defend – the need to hold on to what we have acquired
  • Bond – the need to be socially connected and be a part of a community
  • Create – the need to make a difference, and to be able to contribute

To help feed those needs in a recognition program, you should feed all four self-interest drivers to some extent. However, the key is to understand what people desire. That, again, is where empathy comes into play. If you are able to step into the shoes of another person and understand their perspective, you are better able to meet their wants and needs.

You don’t step into another’s shoes by imagining what they like, what they want, what they need. In the webinar, he detailed the methods used to learn about others – things like research, observation, playing the role of the customer, and other effective tactics that make you better at taking in the perspective of the subject.

There is much more about the effective use of empathy available by viewing the webinar. It is one of many available on the RPI website.

 

 

Tags:  Design Thinking  Empathy  Human Behavior  Human Resource Strategy  Motivation  Recognition Strategy 

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Planning Underway (Already) for 2018 RPI Conference

Posted By Jess Myers, RPI, Friday, August 4, 2017

From first-time attendees to long-time veterans of the trade, RPI consistently receives great feedback on its annual conference. The gathering held in late April and early May on this year in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was a continuation of that trend, with folks heading home from the Sunshine State with great things to say about the gathering.

“This was my first RPI conference, but it will not be my last,” said Beth Baroody, the reward and recognition coordinator for George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “To have to opportunity to learn from and network with others in the growing field of recognition was invaluable. I made contacts with speakers and attendees who have been a resource even after the conference.”

The 2018 RPI Conference is still more than 250 days away, but planning and preparation for the gathering has begun already. The venue is shifting from the ocean (Florida) to the Opry (Tennessee), with the conference beginning on April 29, 2018 at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville. And while the program will again feature an amazing lineup of speakers and sessions, it also presents an opportunity for participants like you to be part of the show.

RPI invites you and your team to submit a topic for consideration as a conference breakout session speaker. The presentations generally focus on strategies and tactics to motivate employees through recognition, program measurement and performance improvement. We look for first-hand stories of company/organizational benefits of a recognition program, and related topics, and place great value in people with on-the-job experience in what works and what needs work to tell their stories. Attendees are looking for real-world stories and want to know what you’re doing in your company. You will have the opportunity to share your expertise and experience plus the ability to enhance your professional credibility while serving the profession. In the coming weeks we will be telling first-hand stories from past conference presenters and attendees, how the information offered and gained was a benefit.

The deadline for presentation proposals is October 30, 2017, and much more information can be found on the RPI website.

And if you have not already done so, mark your calendar and make plans to attend the conference, which runs from April 29 to May 1, 2018. There are many new and exciting format changes coming and we fully intend for this to be our best conference ever. Also, look for new super saver registration rates for early registration which will open in September.

Tags:  7 Best Practices  recognition strategy  RPI conference  workplace engagement 

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Saunderson: Stop Trying to Create a Culture of Recognition

Posted By Jess Myers, RPI, Monday, July 31, 2017

We hear the word “culture” tossed around plenty, especially in the context of companies, and the drive to create a culture of recognition. It sounds nice, but it’s a fruitless use of time, when one considers the nature of cultures, says one prominent recognition expert.

Roy Saunderson, the Chief Learning Officer for Rideau Recognition Solutions, admits that he’s always been a big believer in culture, but he disagrees with efforts to create a culture of recognition.

“I believe a culture is what your organization values, the explicit ways in which we do things in an organization, and that culture drives recognition giving practices and use of the programs,” Saunderson said in a recent interview. “I think you can only have one culture.”

Having been in this industry for more than 20 years, Saunderson acknowledges this idea is a departure from earlier in his career. He once taught the idea that you could create a separate culture of recognition in an organization. Today his beliefs have evolved.

“When I first started I used to have a whole workshop on how to create a real recognition culture, and actually several years later I had to refute that, and say that I don’t believe what I once said and I need to tell you why,” said Saunderson, who has been a member of RPI’s Best Practices Committee for a decade. “The post I wrote said ‘How many cultures can you have?’ I believe culture drives recognition. The organizational culture drives recognition, either for the good or bad, and recognition reinforces that culture.”

Saunderson believes the clearest example of culture driving recognition is in the healthcare industry, and knows the territory, having been a Speech-Language Pathologist earlier in his career.

“Healthcare is notorious for not doing a good job in recognition. When you look at the culture at a healthcare institution, they are so focused on patient care, which is wonderful. The irony is that the caregivers and nurses are so focused on serving that same patient, where does that recognition come from?” he asked, rhetorically, noting that the most common recognition healthcare professionals receive is from their patients. “And so no amount of culture is going to make that change, unless we’re saying ‘We have some of the best employees to serve our patients, now start putting the employee first.’ Patient satisfaction is an outcome of how we treat our employees, rather than the focus.”

Saunderson’s idea is a simple one: stop trying to create a culture. Instead focus on employee recognition, and from that engagement will flow. Employees will see your culture in the way they are treated, and that will reflect in the way your organization works, for better or worse.

“So how you organize your culture, your values, and the whole purpose for why you are in business, will just emanate throughout the whole organization,” he said. “Your people will know whether you care about them or not. Learn from the challenges of the healthcare industry, where employees often think that the organization focuses so much on the patient, they forget about us.”


A video sample of Roy Saunderson’s presentation on “Real Recognition, Real Results” can be found here.
“Real Recognition, Real Results” can be found here.

Tags:  best practices  communications  Culture  recognition strategy 

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RPI Success Stories: CalSTRS

Posted By Jess Myers, RPI, Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Established more than a century ago, when much of the Golden State was still the nation’s unexplored frontier, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) has grown to serve more than 900,000 educators in the nation’s most populous state. As of 2017, CalSTRS is the largest teachers’ retirement fund in the nation, providing retirement, disability and survivor benefits for educators who cover every level of schooling from pre-Kindergarten to community college.

With a portfolio worth nearly $200 billion, CalSTRS is the 11th-largest public pension fund in the world. It’s also a great place to work as evidenced by CalSTRS receiving the 2012 Best Overall Program award by RPI. CalSTRS, headquartered in West Sacramento, Calif., receives honors like that one due in part to successful employee recognition programs based on the Seven Best Practice Standards.

Assessment

Their journey to better employee recognition began in 2008 when CalSTRS made a commitment to creating a culture of recognition. Part of their employee survey is devoted to recognition questions. They also did focus groups and spot surveys to determine recognition preferences and which existing programs to keep.

As a result, they transformed highly-valued programs that dealt with internal and external customer service, yet kept the personalized elements that staff and managers found meaningful (example: balloon deliveries to an employee’s work location).

The Recognition Design Teams saw the need to reinforce Core Values, so they designed a specific informal program to recognize the desired behaviors and actions.

Recognition Strategy

Through extensive benchmarking with private and public-sector industry leaders, internal surveys and the efforts to two employee design teams, CalSTRS established a thriving culture of appreciation with active use of seven recognition programs within the strategic recognition platform.

Virtuosity – CalSTRS Powered by You

The CalSTRS Employee Recognition Program theme, Virtuosity, was developed to support and enhance the CalSTRS brand, and specifically to communicate appreciation to the staff for their valuable work.

From their own materials:

Vision – Our culture of appreciation powers a thriving workplace where each person is valued.
Mission – We design and deliver fully integrated recognition programs, processes and tools that support our Strategic Business Objective 4.2: being a destination employer, as well as our Balanced Score Card strategic initiatives.


The CalSTRS case study is included in the course materials in the Certified Recognition Professional program. For more information on CRP certification, please visit http://www.recognition.org/?page=crp_certification. To view a webinar on CRP, click here.

Tags:  culture  recognition  recognition strategy 

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We Need to Get Inside People's Heads to Fully Appreciate Recognition, Says Author

Posted By Jess Myers, RPI, Friday, April 28, 2017
There’s a little rush of a chemical called dopamine inside the brain when you take a bite of chocolate, or when you hit on a winner at the card table, or when a big fish bites your line. It's the neurobiological mechanism behind why we find something pleasurable. It’s hard science.

Similarly, when you are recognized for good work by your employer or receive an incentive for a job well done, you get that same jolt of pleasure in your brain. That’s part of the message keynote speaker Rodd Wagner will deliver at the RPI Annual Conference in Fort Lauderdale. His presentation, entitled “Inside the Mind of an Employee: The Good, the Bad and the Neurobiology,” explores the science behind employee reciprocity and how good companies use that science to their benefit.

Wagner is the New York Times bestselling author of Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They're Real People. He’s also a regular columnist in Forbes, and Vice President of Employee Engagement Strategy at BI Worldwide, based in Minnesota.

“You could make the case that we don’t need to know what's going on inside people’s brains,” said Wagner. “I can prove survey research and performance data that there’s every reason to ensure a company recognizes solid performance. I don’t need the brain science.”

Yet for years, Wagner says employee engagement has been considered a “soft science” because it could not be observed in the same way as operations, accounting, or one of the more traditionally concrete aspects of running a business. He believes sharing the evidence of what predictably happens inside employees’ brains has the potential to help skeptical executives understand how the science of motivation is just as reliable as any of the other disciplines.

“Getting recognized at work tickles something in a part of the human brain, and people who are happiest reciprocate that emotion with dedication. Humans are very reciprocal creatures,” he said. “We find that when companies take a genuine interest in keeping people happy, those people will take a genuine interest in making the company succeed.”

Wagner enjoys doing a little myth-busting in his columns and speeches. One he has taken on lately is the widely circulated idea that a minority of people are “engaged” at work. Engagement could be better, he said, but “there is no crisis.”

“Most people at least like their jobs, and some love them,” Wagner said.

He also argues with current assertions in the engagement industry that employee happiness is not the right goal for a business.

“Happiness remains very important to employees,” he said. “It’s still the overriding reason people take a job and stay in a job. Any properly fielded and analyzed research shows the pattern.”

Wagner frequently speaks on similar topics to business and industry groups around the country. While some of his keynote will be taken from his most recent book, he will also be showing first at RPI new analyses from the most recent of BI Worldwide's annual studies on employee’s relationships with their employers.

Among the lines on inquiry in his most recent study is what psychologists call “theory of mind.”

“It’s a uniquely human characteristic to be able to estimate what the other person is thinking or intends, and it’s turning out to be an intriguing area for engagement research,” Wagner said. In his most recent study, Wagner asked people three questions about their companies' intentions, among them the statement, “My employer is seeking to make me happy.”

“Now, of course, people don’t know for certain what their leaders’ intentions are, but it is fascinating to me how predictive these types of core motivation questions are of a person's commitment to the company,” said the author. “Employees are most driven to perform when they believe the company is not investing them just because of the potential return, but because they feel a moral obligation to their people.”

Wagner wrote about the results in a recent Forbes column, where he advised employees to calibrate their commitment to their companies with those core intentions of the firm. “Organizations often deliver similar perks and benefits for different reasons.” he wrote. “A mismatch between your company’s intentions and yours can hurt your career.”

For more information on Wagner’s keynote and a full schedule, please visit the conference web site.

Tags:  recognition  Recognition Research  recognition strategy  Research Studies  Trends 

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Award Winner Profile: MIT

Posted By Jess Myers, RPI, Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was the 2016 recipient of RPI’s Best Practice Award for a simple reason: MIT understands the value of recognition as a positive way to reinforce attitudes and behaviors that support a successful, dynamic organization.

As detailed in a white paper recently released by the well-respected school, MIT has identified seven best practice standards for their recognition program. Here is an overview of how it works, with significant additional detail available in the full report:

Standard 1: Recognition Strategy

MIT’s Rewards and Recognition (RR) program was designed to recognize exceptional work specifically from MIT staff. The program includes all levels of employment and all Departments, Labs, and Centers (DLCs).

Standard 2: Management Responsibility

To ensure that the recognition program would be adopted throughout all areas of MIT, the originating Committee worked collaboratively to build a program and consensus. With buy-in from senior leaders, the R+R Committee established a network of 24 RR Key Contacts across MIT.

Standard 3: Recognition Program Measurement

MIT measures the success of the RR program in multiple ways. One is by assessing outreach during key nomination periods to be sure that the programs are accessible to all staff. MIT’s dedicated web pages on the recognition program contain critical information on nominating for the Excellence Awards + Collier Medal, and also for the other tiers of the recognition program.

Standard 4: Communication Plan

Communication and outreach for the MIT Excellence Awards + Collier Medal are handled by the RR Program Administrator. Calls for nominations, information about the process and award criteria are branded with the award-specific logo and linked to the RR website for ease of use.

Standard 5: Recognition Training

From the start of their time at MIT, staff are acquainted with the recognition program. Staff at every level attend New Employee Orientation where the recognition program is explained. New staff are invited to attend department recognition events and/or participate in planning and implementation of those events.

Standard 6: Recognition Events and Celebrations

MIT believes that a critical component of recognition is a celebratory event where recipients are acknowledged formally with family, friends, and colleagues attending. The recognition program is structured to include the annual all-MIT Excellence awards ceremony, and the 24 department-centric Infinite Mile events.

Standard 7: Program Change and Flexibility

The RR Program Administrator is the point person for initiating changes, with input from senior leaders and RR Key Contacts. Award categories, the nomination, and selection process are under continuous review for the MIT Excellence Awards and the 24 Infinite Mile and Spot awards. As the administrators, RR Key Contacts act as change agents for their units, and an advisory board for the R&R program overall.

MIT is proud of the global diversity of its staff, and the recognition program is proud to honor that diversity. In 2012, with support from the Manager of Staff Diversity, a significant change was made to the Fostering Diversity Award to change to the Advancing Inclusion + Global Perspectives Excellence Award, better reflecting MIT’s distinct culture.

Tags:  best practice  recognition  recognition strategy 

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