by Roy Saunderson | January 11, 2013
Everyone is talking about 2013 being the best year ever, and beginning with your recognition and reward programs is a great way to make this happen. Here are some kick-start ideas to help you become more mindful and focused with your recognition program. As you get ready with your recognition planning and reviewing goals for the New Year, check out these Top 10 Ways to Start Recognition Right for 2013.
1. Start Off With a Clear Recognition Strategy

According to a May 2011 WorldatWork report on “Trends in Employee Recognition,” only 55 percent of companies have a written document outlining their philosophy, purpose and objectives for recognition. Get yours done this year to start things right and, if you need any help, please contact me.

2. Find Out What Recognition Programs You Have 

You’ll be amazed how many companies have 10s, even hundreds, of recognition programs, all gone wild and loose. Learn what is happening and review each program’s merits. Consolidate them, and make sure that the final programs are achieving your goals.

3. Ask Yourself What You Want Recognition to Do for You 
Yes, recognition is nice to do and it truly makes people feel good. But what do you want to have happen because of your recognition and reward practices and programs? If you don’t know, you need to get a handle on this right away.

4. Find Out Which Programs Generate the Most Bang for the Buck 
This is where you need to define what business impact you want to see happen from each program. Build in the processes for generating benefit/cost ratio calculations and return on investment analysis to determine program results.

5. Align Recognition With Your Business Goals

This can be a wake-up call if you haven’t already been using recognition to achieve your strategic directives. It’s no wonder that many C-suite executives complain about recognition when they don’t know exactly how recognition can help them achieve their strategic plans.

6. Discard Ineffective Programs and Improve Potential Ones
If a recognition program is outdated, nonfunctional, non-meaningful, and unproductive in generating results, get rid of it. However, if you’re on the right track but the results aren’t immediately forthcoming, get creative, tweak it, and make it the best program ever.

7. Learn and Teach the Art and Science of Effective Recognition 
Recognition improves when people get better at giving recognition. Provide online educational resources and training programs to help everyone master this not-always-so-easy-to-do activity to do. Explore the “why” behind recognition as well as the “how to.”

8. Get Senior Leader Commitment to Recognition, Not Just Buy In 

When we talk only in “buy-in” terms, recognition is viewed solely as an expense and often, it’s simply cut or just partially invested in. When senior leaders personally commit to recognition, it is seen as a practice and not just a program, and on top of that, they have to live it as well.

9. Set Up a Recognition Team to Make Things Happen
If you really want to move things along this year, you need more than one pair of hands. Enlist an executive sponsor to approve a cross-functional, business unit leader team that is committed to getting recognition right.

10. Hold People Accountable for Recognition

When performance is measured, performance improves, and when you report on the performance, the rate of improvement accelerates. Use reports, feedback sessions, coaching and regular program reviews to monitor, develop people, and continually improve recognition.

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.