3 Sparks To Recognize And Engage Employees

Employee recognition is meant to boost an employee’s performance. It should motivate. It should reward. It should satisfy.

Too often, however, management attention stops at deciding what the recognition will be. After that it’s just waiting for the performance to happen, for the recognition to be offered, and for the planning for the next go-round.

That’s a shame. Effective employee recognition includes employee engagement. Effective employee recognition does not end with the recognition; it creates and reinforces an ongoing cycle of performance>>>recognition>>>better performance. Effective employee recognition is a component to a successful employee engagement strategy.

Successful integration of recognition and engagement requires planning more than just the content/context of the recognition. It entails planning the entire procedure, including links to future recognitions. Most importantly, it means designing recognition that engages employees beyond just getting recognized.

Below are 3 employee recognition and engagement ideas. They are intended to celebrate employee accomplishments. They are motivational, they are personally rewarding, and they satisfy the individual need for recognition.

As importantly, they also generate engagement. Not just engagement by the employee in the work required to achieve the recognition. These activities reach beyond the project or process or performance being recognized. These activities provide opportunities and reasons for employees to dig deeper into their “engagement resources.”

Those engagement resources are the individual’s time, energy, skills, knowledge, and creativity. Recognition that celebrates achievement and generates the employee to put forth her own personal engagement resources contributes meaningfully to ongoing employee engagement. In fact, the contribution to employee engagement likely has more long-term benefit for the business than this year’s (or last year’s) plain ol’ recognition award.

Take a look at these sparks for employee recognition and employee engagement:

Get Talking.

Conversation between manager and employee goes along way, does a great deal, provides many opportunities. You may take an employee to lunch to recognize a significant success or contribution. If you’re smart, the real engagement recognition will not be the food on the plate. It will be the talk across the table. No matter the setting, one great recognition opportunity for boosting an employee’s engagement is conversation. A regular element of any recognition program should be manager making time (30-60 minutes) to ask questions and hear answers about the employee’s success.

Benefits: manager learns, employee feels valued, both begin to think of ways to do even more, even better.

Be Reflective.

It does an employee good to know her success is recognized and acknowledged. It does the employee and the business more good to reflect on the success. To contemplate what the situation (problem?) entailed. To recall what decisions had to be made and how they were made. To evaluate what was done well and worked, and what was not done so well and didn’t. To consider what was not necessary and can be omitted next time. To determine what was missing and should be included next time. To understand what she can do better next time.

Surround the recognition with praise. The job was done successfully and the praise is deserved. And in that context, encourage the above reflection. Invite the individual to engage fully, after the success, in what the success can mean for the future.

Benefits: manager engages in employee’s success, employee engages through in-depth reflection and learning of what’s been done, future repetition of success is more likely.

Teach Back.

Being asked to share one’s knowledge is typically deemed an honor. It can also put someone on the spot and cause no small amount of anxiety. Proceeding with care, you might invite the recognized employee to turn his successful endeavor into a lesson and share it with peers. In addition to engaging the recognized individual, the purpose of this “recognize and engage” is twofold:

  1. To share what worked and why, to key others in on the elements of success that they may achieve the same sort.
  2. To provide a realistic look at the potential threat of hard-seeking achievement. The teacher in this instance can provide a healthy dose of reality to those concerned with “doing their jobs better and faster and smarter — all at once.”

It will ease the potential burden if the logistics are already cared for. The key individual should be asked only to prepare the teaching — perhaps 45-60 minutes. Such “administrivia” as time scheduled, room reserved, notification of participants, printing any handouts, and more can be taken care of separately. In fact, if Teach Back becomes a regular part of the recognition process, streamlining the set-up can be a snap.

Benefits: an ongoing process/procedure for performance improvement and relevant learning.

There is a spark between recognizing success and engaging for success. If all that’s accomplished is giving and receiving recognition, that cycle has to be reinitiated every year. If there is engagement as part of the recognition, the motivation and satisfaction can become continuous.

photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via photopin cc

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