Recognition Strategy

I love the response provided to the question asked of many a leader, “How is your organization’s workforce recognized and rewarded?” The response often surrounds the paycheck and any potential bonuses. Occasionally the mention of perks related to gyms, coffee, and food, or whatever basic element is onsite or free. I don’t mean to say a free onsite gym isn’t flippin’ awesome, only that these items fall into the basic level of the hierarchy of needs. We’re talking about elements related to nourishment and health. While awesome, I’m all in, those perks are hitting us, humans, at the most basic level of fulfillment. Our bodies.

And yes. Pay is critical. Still falls in the basic level of security and nourishment category. No self-actualization happening from a 3% raise, if we’re lucky. Am I right? We’re talking about first-level physiological needs.

To create a performance culture the heart of the employee must be tapped. The person must want to perform for reasons that are uniquely their own. Do you know what those are for your team? Every employee has an intrinsic reason that is unique to the person. That is why the person comes to work every day. To even begin to make a performance culture every employee must be understood at this level by their manager. To tap into the unlimited potential of the workforce it is important to understand them at the individual level. Before people can work for each other in a performance culture, they work for themselves.

To create a performance culture we need to understand that pay and perks are the basic levels of employee fulfillment. That culture is created when we move beyond the body and tap the spirit. We need to tie recognition to the higher levels of fulfillment, the psychological needs.

To reach those higher levels of fulfillment, and to create a performance culture, organizations need to tie their recognition programs to the individual AND the team. To truly create a performance culture, the team needs to be able to recognize and reward each other. One team member recognizing another team member sans any management involvement goes much further than a dozen organizationally directed recognitions. People stay and perform for teams.

This is where a sense of belonging is derived in the workplace. The team is where a person wants to fit in. Where the group is formed. And where performance culture thrives.

I personally hate the saying, “there is no I in team”. I think that’s absolute bull$#!T! There is a “me” in every team. Each team is made up of individual people doing their part in the makeup of the team. Each “me” plays a role in the “we” and creates the team.

This dynamic requires us to identify and recognize individual performance. Better said, a performance culture requires our recognition program to contain elements that identify and communicate the accomplishments of individuals so they may feel a sense of pride, prestige, of accomplishment within the team. By allowing people to shine individually organizations tap into the second-highest level of fulfillment. Now organizations are starting to truly connect with the spirit of the people.

What is self-fulfillment, by the way? How is it defined? What is the path to get there? Well, it is the highest level of fulfillment according to Maslow. But what the heck is it? Any person with Google and an internet connection can find hundreds of millions of “answers” to those questions.

For the employee, we’re talking about a person becoming the most they can be in that role. Maybe the person is perfectly happy being an accountant but loves to help others by being a trainer. Maybe that front-line employee has years of experience with the company and would like to be a mentor to others. Maybe that seasoned salesperson whose been with the company from the beginning would love to participate in social media efforts. There is something greater that is not tied to pay or to perks that will help employees feel they are growing and becoming better, whatever “better” means for each person. A performance culture requires organizations to think beyond the basics and even the job function to help employees develop and grow for their own reasons, not the organization’s. That is the number one job of every manager. Learn how to help your employees grow for their reasons, not yours.

Move beyond the body. To build a performance culture, focus recognition and reward programs on efforts that tap the spirit of the person and the team. Remember, each “me” plays a role in the “we” and creates the team.

Dr. J did not pursue a doctorate to become a consultant. Just like he didn’t join the Army infantry to become a career soldier. The Army was a place to serve his country and learn the valuable lessons of teamwork, diligent attention to detail, always thinking around the corners, and that at our core all people are equal. These lessons have served him well in organizational life. The doctorate in organizational leadership built upon many of the principles learned in the Army, solidifying Dr. J’s belief that it is the power of the team which dictates the outcome. Using these principles in over two decades of professional life showed the performance team, the team that strives for perfection and a positive outcome will always outperform a department of individuals striving to out-compete one another. Dr. J’s own research as well as multiple empirical studies indicate the power of the team to drive performance. This truth of performance was first identified in the early studies of scientific management on the production floor or a factory and again on the sales floor during Dr. J’s research. He loves the saying, cliche as it may be, “Teamwork makes the dream work!” Dr. J has taught bachelor, master, and doctoral courses in: Strategic Change Management Coaching & Supervising Employees Organizational Leadership Organizational Communication Organizational Behavior Change Management He has over 20 years of extensive experience starting organizations and departments as well as turnaround operations. Dr. J likes to say he has the DNA of a salesperson and the mind of an operations expert. With decades of executive leadership experience, he is able to see the linkage between technological system efficiency and human behavioral efficacy. He believes at his core that systems and processes can be put in place that will create a performance culture. He is now ready to share this expertise and help your company to thrive.