by Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP | April 11, 2018

One recurring problem for companies with recognition and reward programs is getting their managers to consistently and correctly use these programs. For all the owners and managers of recognition and reward programs out there, here is this month's Top 10 Ways to Get Managers to Use Your Recognition Programs.

1. Make it easy for them.
 You need to prove to managers that sending a recognition message, or making a reward transaction, does not take a lot of time. And if it does take time, then you had better get their input right away on what should be done to make it easier and quicker for them. 

2. Ensure managers have right purpose and intent.
 You need to make sure managers identify their personal purposes and intentions for using recognition programs. For example, usage should not be to make them look like a great manager. Instead, it is a tool to acknowledge people and their contributions. 

3. Make your programs more strategic.
 Your people always need to be a primary reason for why you have your recognition and reward programs. But have you ensured these programs are strategically aligned with your organizational culture and the business goals that managers want to achieve. 

4. Give the right amount of recognition.
 Encourage managers to create their personal habits and timetable for using the different recognition programs you have. Invite them to add written comments on your social newsfeed on a daily basis. Encourage them to send e-cards whenever a positive action happens.

5. Make your recognition programs more visible.
 Your recognition portal and rewards programs need to be front and center, with an easy, single sign-on so they're into the programs right away. If your programs are not in their direct line of sight they will be easily overlooked and underused.

6. Make your recognition programs a priority.
 You need to make the appropriate use of your recognition programs an expectation of managers' performance management evaluations. It essential to hold managers accountable for recognition giving if you want to see your programs well used.

7. Advocate a right way of giving recognition.
 Teach managers to go beyond saying "great job!" and be specific when acknowledging employee behaviors and actions. Tell them to connect the dots for employees by sharing the impact and difference their actions have made on clients and peers.

8. Make your programs understandable.
 Be constantly communicating about the purpose of each of your recognition programs to keep them top of mind. Share exemplary practices of managers who use the programs well and constantly ask for their feedback on how they can be improved.

9. Use recognition programs at the right time.
 Even with recognition and reward programs there's a small window of opportunity between seeing good and positive behaviors, and giving employee timely recognition. Help your managers know to recognize something good whenever they see it.

10. Make learning about recognition fun.
 Develop online tutorials, provide webinars across the company, or face-to-face instruction, and keep reinforcing the importance of these valuable recognition tools that managers can be using. Always be educating about giving real recognition the right way.

 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 [email protected] and followed on Twitter (@RoySaunderson) and at his blog.