There is something that is much more scarce, something finer far, something rarer than ability. It is the ability to recognize ability.
Elbert Hubbard, American writer1
The recognition program is one of the most powerful opportunities managers have to reinforce company culture, improve the mindsets of their people, and improve overall performance. The key is to make the recognition program meaningful, repetitive, and simple.
Whenever I assess a company's recognition program, I simply ask staffers for an honest opinion of how people are selected for awards and recognition. Unfortunately, in many situations, the program that is in place lacks integrity. We are told the recognition is merely a mandated task wherein managers just look for the next person to thank, or recognition is given to those who have been around longest. When this is the case, a great opportunity to positively impact the mindset of your team is lost.
It is not surprising that many employees feel that there is not enough recognition; in fact, in 2014, Kate Taylor, a reporter for Entrepreneur, stated that 82% of staff members feel they do not receive enough recognition.2 Whether recognition is nonexistent or meaningless, many companies are missing out on one of their best opportunities to positively impact their culture. As former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara suggested, “Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated.”