Applying Operational Excellence to Employee Recognition

I’ve blogged before about our ambition to help companies foster cultures of appreciation in their organizations. However, a culture of appreciation requires a culture of accountability.

As organizations compete to find and retain talented contributors, employee reward and recognition programs become integral to the total work experience. Harnessing the true power of strategic recognition in a Global 2000 company requires a global strategy that includes all recognition activity in the employee base worldwide. In most market-leading companies, however, strategic initiatives are managed using a process, metrics, measurements, incentives and accountability – except recognition.

Success in deploying strategic recognition requires a management process (such as DMAIC) that sets clear targets for frequency and budget, offers meaningful measurement and reporting functionality, and holds managers accountable for targeted award activity. Setting clear goals is central to the management methodology and should include the percentage of employees awarded, employee satisfaction scores, the match of award distribution to the performance bell curve, and the frequency of awards.

As with Six Sigma, there are four key phases to successful deployment and adoption of strategic recognition programs:

1) Generate leadership awareness of and enthusiasm for the initiative across all functions, divisions and business units. Work together to establish targets that define success for global recognition efforts.

2) Conduct a baseline survey of employee satisfaction and engagement. Then track results from the initial recognition efforts and communicate them to the entire company. This will sell the program far more effectively to the entire company than demands from executives for participation.

3) Implement measures to track results on an ongoing basis to ensure recognition is continuous and building over time. Conduct recognition program-specific and overall employee engagement surveys regularly to ensure growing program success.

4) Build recognition into business as usual with many thousands of “thank you moments” happening around the world in all departments every day.

Where do you see your company on this progression of strategically applying operational excellence tactics to your recognition program? Have you achieved recognition as “business as usual” or are you not even out of the starting gate?

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