by Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP | December 04, 2018
Giving meaningful recognition to employees is everyone's responsibility. Yet, many organizations look to their senior leaders to set the example of being great recognizers. The keys to making this happen is through coaching and training them on effective recognition practices. To this end, keep in mind the following 10 ways to educate leaders on giving recognition.

1. Evaluate your leadership team's abilities to give meaningful and effective employee recognition. Conduct a 360-degree review on their recognition abilities, consistency, and impact. How successful are they? What trends are evident? From this survey determine what specific recognition skills need addressing.

2. Check your current management and leadership curriculum to see if sufficient time and attention is given to learning recognition practices. If it is, great. If not, then design and develop learning content that fits your senior leadership's needs. Some like face-to-face instruction and others prefer online.

3. Develop a leadership development strategy for improving the giving of recognition. Create a long-term development plan that aligns recognition with the strategic initiatives of the company. Once you know the strengths and weakness of your leadership team, you will know the right interventions.

4. Strengthen leaders' abilities to connect and appreciate their direct reports. Coach them on how to make an award presentation or how to acknowledge people for outstanding performance. It's possible they need to get out of the office and connect with employees on the floor to know them better.

5. Conduct a quarterly learning moment in regularly scheduled leadership meetings to enhance recognition skills. Have each leader share a positive recognition moment and what they learned from it. Invite them to also discuss difficulties they had and brainstorm ways to overcome in the future.

6. Create mentor opportunities on specific skill sets. Have exemplary recognition-giving leaders teach emerging leaders or fellow peers on what it takes to give meaningful recognition to employees. Be open to junior leaders coaching senior leaders when they demonstrate great recognition abilities.

7. Incorporate accountability for leaders improving recognition skills. How often do they acknowledge direct reports? Do employees feel better valued for their work and contributions? Assign an executive coach to educate and coach leaders and give time to apply acquired recognition skills at work.

8. Connect leaders with company employees as often as possible. Orchestrate opportunities where they can build positive relationships with staff. Try spontaneous visits to departments. Sharing lunch with staff and simply chatting. Engage in informal discussions to answer questions and concerns.

9. Invite leaders to be present on day one of onboarding new staff. Assign each leader to a small group of staff. Request that each leader encourage employees and managers to thank those who have made them feel most welcome. Suggest the leader stay in touch with their group members over the next few weeks.

10. Give each leader a package of thank you cards or blank note cards with a challenge. Tell them to write one note card per day for the number of cards in the package. Follow up with them when the assignment is completed and request a written report on what they learned from doing this exercise.