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Taking Engagement One Step Ahead With Recognition

Taking Engagement One Step Ahead With Recognition

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2020 has been all about retaining top talent and finding creative ways to keep teams engaged, motivated and well. A lot of formats of communication and engagement underwent a change as so many things that we took for granted were taken away. For some people, getting ready and showing up to work in spite of whatever was going on at home was rewarding, for some staying back at work and competing a deadline was rewarding. For some being welcomed as a new team member on the lunch table was recognition and for some being called out in a team meeting for completing 10 years at work was humbling. Being able to receive acknowledgment, being visible and being useful for others and for the organization were powerful media through which one felt validated, reassured and productive. Fast forwarding to a culture of distributed remote workforces, virtual breakouts and online team meetings – a lot of that emotion and enthusiasm is lost. This brings a lot of pressure on not just human resources but also on business to find innovative best practices to let people know that they are valued, important and indispensable. It is also important for people to know that they are visible, what they do and don’t do matters, what impact their thoughts have and how cultures are still built virtually.

While one on one feedback is extremely powerful in understanding if one is on the right path, social recognition is also equally powerful. Recognition isn’t just about applauding the high performers but it is also about providing a platform to showcase one’s talents, encourage others about the possibilities that the organizational culture allows and build an overall internal brand perception of one’s own team that increases commitment and loyalty. One of the earlier ways in which recognition was given was by way of designation changes and salary hikes. These were followed by awards and titles at annual/global events for functional and behavioural achievements and now the direction is towards building a culture of recognition at a more micro level. Here are some things to keep in mind while building the culture:

  1. Recognition should clarify what is being rewarded and consequently reinforced: Rewarding target achievement can be an acceptable phenomenon though it doesn’t communicate exactly what is valued. Going deeper to reward resilience, respectful negotiation and winning customer loyalty could be more important in setting the record towards what will help achieve targets.
  2. Recognize in time: Just as we need real time feedback and anytime learning, we also need timely recognition so the best potential can come out. It can be in between a meeting, when someone asks a valid question and that being recognized can encourage others to engage with the discussion more deeply. It can also be a timely expression of appreciation at someone stretching themselves to not just do something extra-ordinary but even ordinary in extra-ordinary times like during the pandemic.
  3. Recognize the way it will be received: The basic rule of communication is to speak in a manner that can be understood. Similarly, recognition must flow in a manner that it is valued by the recipient. They could be surprised or be even waiting for it. Express it via a platform that is appropriate and in a manner that befits the thought or action that is being celebrated. Remember to take people along and not alienate when recognizing performance: it could be the family or the team of the performer so that you build more allies and not differences.

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