Motivation@Work: Peer-to-Peer Recognition Connects Employees
By Lisa Massiello and Tommy Lee Hayes-Brown
August 12, 2009
Ask employees about the most memorable recognition they’ve received and many times you hear that it did not come from managers but from fellow team members. Lately, it seems that more and more peer-to-peer recognition programs are popping up in the incentive industry. Why? These programs tend to be easily developed, inexpensive, and impact a multitude of team members. They also allow coworkers to acknowledge each other’s good work. But the greatest benefit is the “doubling of impact” of recognition: The recipient feels appreciated and the team member initiating recognition feels great as a result!
One of the common challenges faced by managers and supervisors is lack of time. Most find themselves too busy to effectively and consistently provide feedback to their employees. A peer-to-peer program will help develop a culture across an organization that allows employees to play active roles in informal day-to-day recognition. It will also effectively translate corporate goals into daily actions and behaviors to which all employees can relate.
One financial industry leader has a peer-to-peer recognition program that spans the entire organization. Its program is built on the organization’s vision and values, as well as its shared goals. All of the recognition relates to how an individual’s performance helps ensure that the organization meets its goals. This program processes an average of 35,000 awards each month. Individuals can sign on to the company Intranet and recognize fellow team members in just minutes. The recipient, as well as his or her manager, instantly receives an e-mail notification. Having the manager copied in ensures the validity of the recognition and eliminates misuse of the program, which also has a metrics and reporting tool that allows management to see when the awards are being sent, which departments have the highest and lowest usage, and even which behaviors are being recognized.
Realizing the importance of allowing individuals to acknowledge their work partners, coworkers, and even their managers, many incentive industry organizations have developed easy-to-use peer-to-peer recognition tools. However, an e-card program is the easiest to utilize—no matter the size of the organization. More and more companies have employees working out of their homes, across the country and worldwide, and online cards can be sent by and to anyone to express appreciation, offer congratulations, celebrate a milestone (e.g., birthday, wedding, anniversary), or even welcome someone to the team. One manager reports that she begins each weekly staff meeting by reading all informal recognition received by her team. Another manager asks team members to take a few minutes to verbally recognize each other before starting their monthly meeting.
Harvard Law School (HLS) created an employee-owned program to develop a way for employees to express appreciation for those who make everyday worklife differences. All HLS employees are invited to thank coworkers through an extremely simple process. The six categories that the program focuses on are meant to capture the variety of great work done at HLS:
• Good citizenship - promoting positive morals through actions of good spirit
• Collaboration/Helping/Mentoring – leading others through partnerships
• Bright Idea/Creativity – honoring the creative problem-solver
• Above and Beyond – modeling superior service
• Make It Happen – relentlessly resourceful and productive
• Unsung Hero – working behind the scenes
The financial cost of these informal programs is minimal. Most successful peer-to-peer programs are highly valued by employees and don’t have any monetary value. The programs are also important tools during times of change; they are used not only to recognize colleagues who go the extra mile to help a coworker or a customer, but also to provide guidelines and encourage outstanding performance and consistent behavior relating to an organization’s goals, from safety, to quality, to excellence, to innovation, to teamwork.
Peer-to-peer recognition is an essential tool in any organization's recognition tool box, yet it shouldn’t be the only tool. “Remember to keep a holistic recognition strategy and not put all of your eggs in one recognition basket,” says Roy Saunderson, author of Giving the Real Recognition Way
, and fellow Incentive
columnist. A peer-to-peer program, partnered with a solid formal recognition program, will effectively reward accomplishments and induce behaviors.
Programs developed to recognize individual contributions reinforce a culture of appreciation, which will result in increased productivity and employee satisfaction within your organization.Lisa Massiello, CRP, is the new president of Recognition Professionals International. Tommy Lee Hayes-Brown, CRP, is vice president of RPI. They host the popular Motivation Chats at RPI’s Annual Conference. To learn more, visit www.recognition.org
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