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by Jennifer Lumba   | November 09, 2014
Coaxing out better performance from employees is a manager's most important job. So, why do so many spend more time with spreadsheets than with their subordinates? Disengaged workers are unlikely to ever deliver superior performance.
 
Instead, they're more likely to leave. According to Accenture, 43 percent of workers who say they are unhappy in their current jobs cite a lack of recognition as the leading cause.

Spending time walking the halls or seeking feedback can help fight this malaise.
 
However, if research is to be believed, nothing boosts performance as much as a culture that encourages superiors and peers to actively and regularly recognize outsized contributions. One such study, from Bersin & Associates, found that employee engagement, productivity, and customer service generally rank about 14 percent better in these sorts of organizations.
 
Sound enticing? It should. Getting started is also easier than you might think, and social media can help. 

Here are 10 tips for using public and private networks to deliver social recognition that pays dividends:
 
1. Define your values first. What does your company stand for? What sorts of behavior typifies your workers? Be sure you get answers to those questions before you take to the Internet to sing the praises of the 10-year-veteran who's spent most of his career out of touch with the culture.
 
2. Study your weak spots. "High performance" isn't a static phrase; each company defines it differently. Take the time to spell out your organization's view, and then use it to measure how you're doing as a company. Document strengths and areas for improvement.
 
3. Make a list of priorities. Now that you know your weaknesses, prioritize them. What do you need tackle right now? Marshall your workers to address the issue. Then, tune in and recognize breakthroughs as they happen. Reward unexpectedly large gains.
 
4. Put a measurement mechanism in place. Of course, you'll need a way to understand how big the gains are, which means implementing some sort of measurement mechanism. Don't overthink it, though. A simple spreadsheet that tracks "before-and-after" in key areas may be all you need.
 
5. Model best behavior. Take lessons from your big wins. Are there best practices emerging? If so, have your senior executives call out these wins in company meetings and on social media. Use them to clarify and model the behaviour you want.
 
6. Recruit and reward early adopters. Watch for those who embrace and refine practices that are introduced at the top. They're your best chance of spreading the good word throughout your organisation. Highlight their work regularly via public and private social networks.
 
7. Be a champion rather than a chief. The best recognition is organic and delivered peer-to-peer. Take time to highlight workers who are being recognized by their peers. Share their stories on social media and in blog posts.
 
8. Embrace celebration. Allow your workers to celebrate even small achievements. The more victories you notice, the more you'll want to celebrate, encouraging more victories. Post photos and recaps of these get-togethers to public and private social networks to incentivize higher performance.
 
9. Broadcast your wins. Small celebrations are important, but so are big victories. Take your company's biggest accomplishments to the wider web via social media. Highlight the key team members, their roles, and what they achieved.
 
10. Know when to keep it real. While social media is a useful tool for social recognition, it can't replace a smile, a handshake, a kind word, or even a thank-you card. Don't just tell the world that you are proud of your employees. Show your employees that you are proud of their efforts.
 
In the end, workers know the difference between a company that merely aims for higher profits and one with a culture that recognizes and actively celebrates high performance.

Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions. Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau's employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at jenniferlumba@rideau.com.