Getting senior management to “buy-in” to a culture of recognition
Our previous blog on getting employees to buy-in to your core values promised a follow-up article on how leadership impacts buy-in for these values. After all, senior leaders create the strategies that support the values you want recognized in your organization – values that reflect your culture and set the stage for employee engagement.
While senior leaders intuitively know the value of a strong culture (see the Harvard Business Review article that mentions an executive round-table discussion in which “culture” is cited 27 times in 90 minutes), they may not understand how organic opportunities for recognition build culture and lead to superior business results.
As HR professionals we need to connect the dots for our leadership teams by outlining why employee recognition matters and how to do it effectively. Organizations create strong recognition cultures by aligning core values with strategy. Linking strategy to your core values to your recognition program to a better bottom line – now that’s a success story all executives want to hear!
Recognition connects employees to a higher-purpose in the work they do. When employees believe their jobs have higher meaning – and I mean every job, including the cashier at the check-out – they are motivated to work harder. When we recognize employees for working harder, they will be motivated to keep it up and will make efforts to recognize others for their work. This recognition cycle fuels bottom-line results in all aspects of the business – improved customer service, productivity, retention, and/or quality.
It also directly creates a positive culture of engaged employees, referring back to that elusive term that senior leaders know is important but struggle with defining and moulding.
Do your homework to identify the challenges in your organization. Have you recently undergone a merger or acquisition? Has there been a change in senior leadership in the last year? Has there been a huge shift in your business strategy this past year?
Demonstrate how recognition can measurably impact challenges you’re facing in customer service, absenteeism, productivity, quality and/or retention:
- Take a risk and set a goal. “Our recognition program will lead to a 5% increase in customer satisfaction scores within 6 months.” Even if you don’t achieve the goal, you’re still ahead of the game!
- Focus on a specific senior leader who already gets the importance of recognition and ask them to be a spokesperson when presenting the business case and during organizational roll-out. Keep this leader informed of all developments in your program so they can update the senior leadership team informally.
To sum it up, start with the “why” so your senior leadership team feels vested and gets onboard with developing your recognition strategy. Tell them “how” you’ll do it to create the picture of what a successful recognition program looks like.