The Evolution and Reinvention of Recognition
Today, recognition is a full-featured management practice. Like employer branding and financial management, it is a set of actions, rules and processes working together to achieve strategic goals. And like other management practices, recognition ranges from simple, tactical steps through enterprise-wide initiatives to long-term strategic practices. The progress of an organization from simple to sophisticated practice is the recognition journey.
Tactical Recognition: Tactical recognition focuses on the connection between a manager and an individual employee. The manager notices extra effort or good performance and recognizes it with an award and a personal message. “Catch them doing something good” is the slogan for this kind of recognition.
Enterprise Recognition: The second stage of the recognition journey is enterprise recognition, which means spreading the practice of tactical recognition across a company’s different divisions and functions. Enterprise recognition, like enterprise financial management or procurement practices, establishes standard objectives, practices, ways and means to accomplish recognition’s goals. Enterprise recognition makes recognition standard and scalable across big organizations, just as a purchasing department can standardize and scale the buying of office supplies.
Enterprise recognition falls short of recognition’s true potential because it is layered onto a culture in the same manner as a benefit program. It stays in the human resources silo — a positive step forward, to be sure, but not answerable like other disciplines to management practices of measurement against goals. That represents a huge missed opportunity.
Strategic Recognition: Strategic recognition is the practice of integrating recognition with other management tools and practices, taking recognition beyond the HR domain and leveraging its power to shape behavior at all levels of the organization. Strategic recognition is the point at which the “soft” behaviors of recognition — which worked well at motivating employees — finally merge with the “hard” management practices of measurement, goal-setting, analysis and strategic execution. At this level, as with so many practices today, new value is realized by unlocking heretofore hidden data.
Technology initiatives and new product lines are supported with a sophisticated reporting protocol and tracking technology because they make a difference to the bottom line. Strategic recognition treats cultural performance with the same level of seriousness and support because it, too, makes a difference to the bottom line. Because tracking and monitoring tools are in place, practitioners use strategic recognition to manage the culture in detail.
Social Recognition: Social recognition is a new phenomenon made possible by the rise of Internet social technologies. It reaches beyond the manager or even the immediate hierarchical team to involve an individual’s entire work circle — the people he or she interacts with on a regular basis, past colleagues who have moved to new positions in the organization, and anyone whom the individual wants to keep in touch with through the positive power of thanks.
Mobile recognition feeds the power of social recognition by ensuring the vast majority of employees, regardless of location or job type, can fully participate in the recognition program through their mobile devices (typically smartphones). The “access anywhere, anytime” availability of mobile today also helps ensure recognition moments are timely and occur very soon after the event deserving of recognition.
Insight: Insight is a term for the ultimate goal of the recognition journey, in which the practice of social recognition is integrated to all the talent-management practices beyond culture management. The key to insight is the capability of today’s data-analysis technologies to record, interpret and make connections among the many activities labeled “talent management.”