by Roy Saunderson | October 07, 2013
Making mistakes when you give people rewards and recognition can be costly ones that you don’t ever want to repeat. These Top 10 mistakes were generated from corporate leaders and experts responsible for rewards and recognition. If, like these leaders, you can learn from these mistakes, then much will have been achieved in helping to get rewards and recognition right in the workplace.

1. Keeping your eyes too focused on the extrinsic value of the reward. 
Managers need to pay more attention to the importance of how they deliver a reward to a person. Stop looking at the monetary value of an award, whether high or low, and enhance the quality of the recipient’s experience.

2. Making recognition programs the primary vehicle for recognition giving. 
Remember recognition programs are simply a tool for practicing good recognition giving. You can strategize, systemize, and customize all you want, but recognition and reward programs can never surpass authentic practices.

3. Forgetting the why of recognition and rewards given. 
Come back to earth and ask good “why” questions before every recognition encounter. Why are you honoring them? Why are you amazed at their contributions? Does this award validate their worth? What do you want them to come away with?

4. Neglecting the personal touch even when giving large rewards. 
Winning the best-of-the best award with its exotic destination or cruise event, or monetary bonus or large merchandise gift, is always a big deal. But never forget the personal touch — their names, the connections made, and captured memories.

5. For goodness sake, give them the recognition they deserve! 
Take the time and effort required to communicate your appreciation meaningfully via online tools.  Be intentional and authentic with any in-person presentation made. Don’t lose the positive impact of an award by not expressing the recognition right.

6. Letting the merchandise or award sabotage the effect really wanted. 
Shoot down any attitudes where leaders think great merchandise equates to a great recognition program. Determine the purpose for the recognition and rewards first, and then allow any tangibles to accent positive relationship building.

7. Not doing your homework beforehand on the recipient. 
Be prepared, and do your research ahead of time to learn about the recipient if you do not know them. Allow the award or reward that is being given to be enhanced by the insights you discover and share about the person and the great contribution that he or she has made.

8. Messing up on the messaging opportunity before you give recognition. 
Get their preferred name, title and award name right when posting on billboards, LCD screens, emails or newsletters.  With face-to-face presentations, don’t use sarcasm or negate positive expressions with a “but” midway, or a counterpoint.

9. Confusing people when it comes to the difference between rewards and recognition. 
Most don’t know the difference. Money does not always drive performance. Too many rewards can lead to entitlement. Not enough recognition can reduce productivity. Understand the definitions of both, separate them carefully, then, unite to maximize results.

10. Not remembering there are people involved here. 
Rewards and recognition can become too transactional instead of transformational. We must each create positive relationships with people and use the tools available to help us inspire and lift people up to new heights. It’s about people — never about things. 


Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Real Recognition Way and Chief Learning Officer of the Recognition Management Institute, a consulting a training company which helps leaders and managers get recognition right. He can be reached at [email protected]. Also, tune in every Tuesday to his radio show, Real Recognition Radio.