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Guest AuthorJayanth Narayan

What should you Recognize Employees for?

By Jayanth Narayan

The typical response to this question is “For things they do above and beyond their normal work”. Here is the problem with this response.
Let’s take a company which has a stated 3 year focus to cut costs and drive efficiency in their processes. Now let’s take an example of a sales rep who is dealing with a customer whose order has been botched up by the fulfillment department. To satisfy the customer, the sales rep reorders the products (express mode), personally picks up the products ordered by the customer and delivers it, again personally, to the customer. At the end of it, the customer is OK to some extent with the situation. Now the Sales Rep’s manager recognizes the employee for “Going Above and Beyond” his normal work and gives him an award in the monthly team meeting.
Here is the problem with this. You are recognizing an employee for fire-fighting a situation which should have really been something taken care of by the fulfillment department without any fuss. So what you are communicating to the employees is that “If things get messed up and you come up with a band-aid solution, you will get recognized and awarded”. Instead of this, given the focus of the company on cost cutting and improving efficiency, the manager should have urged the employee to find out what caused the problem and why he had to spend so much time and effort in fire-fighting. If the employee actually did that and this episode forced the Fulfillment department to get their act together to prevent such occurences in the future, then that is something where Recognition could be used very effectively. Now you are recognizing the employee for helping the company improve efficiency, collaborating with other departments and while doing the recognition, the manager could narrate the fire-fighting story as an example and tell employees how these type of situations could be avoided in the future. Now the Recognition is aligned with the company’s stated business objectives and the manager is reinforcing this and encouraging employees to exhibit behaviours that will support these business objectives.
So the one line answer to the question we started off with should really be the following:
“You should Recognize employees for exhibiting behaviours that are aligned to the company’s business objectives”. You can add Values, Vision & Mission to this.

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Jayanth 2I head Rideau Recognition Solutions’ Asia-Pacific division, Rideau India. Rideau is the leader in online recognition solutions to keep employees engaged and productive. I have been involved in the Business Process & IT outsourcing industry for the last 12 years and hold an MBA in HR from XLRI, Jamshedpur and a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from BITS, Pilani. I have an extremely strong interest and passion for the art and science of Employee Recognition and will be taking great pleasure in sharing and exchanging information on how recognition and relationships can impact the workplace, particularly in India and the surrounding regions.

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