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Mistakes in Managing Employee Recognition Programs

July 26, 2011
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Mistakes in Managing Employee Recognition Programs

Are you ready to leave your job? Or, if you’ve already left your job, did you notice that your manager was dumbfounded by your decision to leave? Perhaps you and your manager had entirely different perceptions as to how ‘things were going at work’. You may have been elated to leave, perhaps leaving because you didn’t feel genuinely valued, while your manager might have viewed you as having great potential and a great future in the company. Sometimes, managers don’t see themselves and their actions the way the employees perceive them, and didn’t realize that existing recognition programs had lost their lustre. Here are some mistakes that managers sometimes make which can cause otherwise promising employees to look for greener pastures.

Mistake #1: Lack of Sincerity in Offering Praise and Incentives

With downsizing of staff and upsizing of workloads, along with budget cuts, managers know that their employees are working harder than ever to ‘do more with less’. So when a manager praises an employee, or offers an incentive, it’s important that the overworked employee feels that the recognition is sincere and merited. Managers should ensure that their praise and incentives really come from the heart and are timely and appropriate to the recipient, whenever possible.

Mistake#2: Having a Disorganized Employee Incentive Program

In companies with numerous departments, it’s quite possible that the incentive programs are not uniformly implemented and that incentives are not of equal value. Employees will be aware of disparities. Managers need to ensure that incentive and recognition programs are well co-ordinated across departments and that the standards for receiving incentives are communicated effectively to employees.

Mistake #3: Failing to Communicate Your Strategic Plan

Managers must ensure that employees understand and adopt the company’s goals and values, and know what is required to achieve and deliver on those values. Only then can everyone work together to ensure that they each play their part in achieving the desired outcomes.

Mistake #4: Failing to Get Full Buy-In from Upper Management

It is crucial for employees to see enthusiasm and commitment from upper management, which will require managers to show objective proof of the benefits of any incentive or recognition programs in place. So, managers should identify metrics that they can evaluate and present to upper management in support of recognition programs.

Mistake #5: Failing to Follow Through on Recognition Programs

Another crucial aspect of any recognition or incentive program is to keep it fresh and relevant. To accomplish this, programs need to be fully integrated into the company’s performance management culture, which requires an effective reporting scheme and staff who feel empowered to manage the program. A well-implemented program with suitably well-informed employees and clearly stated company goals and values should allow managers to demonstrate a good return on this investment in terms of the company’s bottom line.

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