by Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP | May 15, 2017

Not having senior leadership support is certainly one of the main barriers preventing  recognition from happening well in organizations. See if you can relate to any of these leadership stumbling blocks or negative personality traits that prevent recognition from becoming part of your company's DNA. Work hard to overcome the Top 10 Ways Leaders Get In the Way of Recognition.

1. No Commitment. Some leaders reduce the decision to endorse recognition practices and programs to being simply a financial matter. That way they can easily "buy-in" or "buy-out" of recognition. Great leaders make a personal commitment to recognition by doing it and giving it in an exemplary way for others to follow.

2. Ego Blocking. There will be leaders who let their ego get in the way of the need for employee recognition. They think they're amazing and have no need for recognition beyond the high paycheck they receive. Why should we spend money on recognition programs? Work with those who know them to get around their ego.

3. Dismissing Ideas. This follows along with big ego where certain leaders dismiss any idea that is not their own. They refuse to listen to the results of engagement surveys and researched plans for how to revitalize recognition programs that are no longer working. Use Six Sigma and quality improvement processes to provide proof.

4. Not Present. Leaders who understand the value of employees and their contributions are very visible. Poor leaders are the invisible minority and delegate people interactions to others. They fail to be present at strategic meetings where recognition is being reviewed and planned for. Proceed without them if necessary.

5. No Risk-Taking. You can have leaders who are weaker than you would like. They may have experienced past business failures. They are overly cautious and may know things you don't know about the company's health. Tread carefully with them and create recognition plans that start off small and prove their success first.

6. Lacking Skillsets. Not every leader is a born people person or skilled at being able to give recognition effectively. Leaders uncomfortable at giving recognition often avoid it. Yet Gallup shows 24 percent of employees value recognition from their CEO. Provide one-to-one coaching and training for leaders to boost their recognition confidence.

7. Domineering Style. Decisive, determined, and dominant personalities are often key strengths of company leaders. But they can be very impatient and don't want to answer lots of questions. Be equally decisive and confident with what you know and give them the big picture of what you want to have happen with recognition.

8. Poor Awareness. If a leader has more business and financial acumen than people skills then your CHRO or Organizational Development people should fill in the gaps. Go beyond "soft skill" attitude about recognition and give evidence of the performance and ROI of how recognition can help achieve their business goals.

9. Not Caring. Believe it or not there are leaders who exist who don't care about people. While it is easy to feel they shouldn't be leading, it can be hard to remove leaders if they're producing business results. Mike Myatt suggests, "The real test of any leader is whether or not those they lead are better off for being led by them."

10. Rigid Mindset. And there are leaders who are unwilling to change and adapt to new ideas. They are stuck in old mindsets and think if we pay employees enough money why do we have to do all this recognition stuff anyways? Challenge senior leaders to acquire new skills and shift with changing times, now and for the future.


Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is the author of Giving the Real Recognition Way. The Vistance Institute chief learning officer at Rideau Inc., Saunderson provides consulting, learning, and thought leadership services focused on helping leaders and managers give real recognition the right way. He can be reached at RoySaunderson@Rideau.com and followed on Twitter (@RoySaunderson) and at his AuthenticRecognition.com blog.