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by Razor Suleman | September 30, 2012
Do you ever crave somewhat harmless, yet addicting things in life? Whether your vice is soda or junk food, excessive amounts of sunshine or overspending, addiction plagues us all. But not all addiction is negative, or something you should avoid. Specifically, recognition can be incredibly addicting - but it's a good kind of addiction, because being recognized once is never enough. 

When you recognize an employee on-the-spot for a job well done, it can be very powerful. This type of recognition is powerful because the employee receives timely, specific, and meaningful feedback, which reinforces the idea that the certain behavior should be repeated.  However, if that same behavior is repeated and does not receive timely recognition, it is likely that the initiative will fall flat. So, what's the problem? 

Once an employee gets accustomed to frequent recognition, it becomes a habit of activity that they start to expect. Recognition reinforces the right behaviors that are attributed to goals and success. So, your organization must define what behaviors are the right ones by using regular feedback to set expectations. 

Recognition must be consistent or regular in order to have a powerful impact on employee behavior. According to Gallup research, employees need some form of recognition at least once every seven days. Consistent repetition is the key, so that employees understand what type of behavior leads to success. Without this necessary repetition, employees could become unfocused and results may suffer.

Consistency positively impacts the ability to drive results or execute an initiative to completion. It requires discipline and the desire to achieve. You might say organizations depend on it. 

In a recent Inc.com article, "Power of Consistency: 5 Rules," Eric Holtzclaw suggests that consistency is the difference between failure and success. With respect to recognition and influencing repeat behavior, here are five rules to inspire consistency: 

1. Consistency Allows for Measurement
How do you measure effectiveness if what you are measuring isn't performed consistently? Measure employees with clearly communicated goals and objectives and then provide consistent recognition or constructive feedback, on a timely basis, to coach their progress and inspire them to drive results. Consistent recognition will influence employees to repeat the right behaviors necessary for success, and timely feedback will only make them better and help them reach their goals. 

2. Consistency Creates Accountability 
Top employees have an inherent need to perform and achieve, and they are motivated to take ownership and be accountable for their deliverables and goals. Create regular check-ins between employees and managers to discuss progress and roadblocks. Consistent communication will keep employees accountable, and they will be more likely to deliver results. Without consistent accountability, employees may not understand how their role impacts the big picture.
 
3. Consistency Establishes Your Reputation
Business growth requires a track record of success, and you can't establish a track record if you are constantly shifting gears. Recognize employees with a consistent track record of success, which will inspire other employees to exhibit similar behaviors. If you thank top employees for consistently performing communicated objectives, they are more likely to repeat the behavior. What gets recognized gets repeated. 

4. Consistency Makes You Relevant
Having a constant flow of communication with your employees and customers is important, because it makes your brand relevant and eventually achieves traction. Employees should consistently focus on initiatives that are relevant to drive business results. This is why organizations need to set expectations and define the right behaviors from the get go, so employees understand why their performance is relevant. 

5. Consistency Maintains Your Message
Practice what you preach. Employees notice that actions speak louder than words, especially from leadership. Employees' motivation, inspiration, and willingness to go the extra mile depend on consistent corporate messaging and the company's ability to follow-through on established employee value propositions. Employees will not exhibit the right behaviors for success without consistent messaging there to drive their achievements. Using recognition to acknowledge employee performance reinforces corporate messaging and values, assuming that values are established in the first place. 

The next time you think about your addictions and changing behaviors for the better, consider the power of consistency to reach your potential. The phrase, "old habits die hard," rings true because people find it difficult to change their accustomed behavior, unless they receive consistent feedback to do otherwise. This is why consistent recognition is important, because it positively influences the right behaviors for success.  

Which of these five rules do you think are the most important to drive business results?  Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Razor Suleman is the chief evangelist and founder of Achievers (Formerly I Love Rewards). Achievers' global rewards and social recognition software engages employees and drives performance. For more information, visit www.achievers.com