106 Communications

6th Sense

Recognition: reflections over breakfast…

October 2015 | 106 Breakfast Series, Recognition

Autumn has arrived with a bang.  Or, more aptly, a flood.  In fact, when we arrived for our breakfast at The Wolseley, it was ‘cats and dogs’.  Luckily, we found refuge, coffee and scrambled eggs in the private dining room.

For our latest in the 106 Breakfast Series, we focused on Recognition.  Bill Robertson, a Reward specialist who has worked with and for a wide variety of different organisations (and is currently at HS2) led the discussion.  We were joined by some lovely people from media, professional services, energy, financial services and FMCG.

So why Recognition?  Why now?

We currently live in a world of low inflation, low interest rates and low oil prices.  Yet we have (apparently) the highest level of employment on record and a growing economy. So employers have a quandary – wages aren’t rising (enough for employees), yet competition for talent is. How do you keep and attract key skills?

Recognition can potentially fill the void, and go a long way to differentiating an employer, engaging employees and creating a culture that retains great talent..

For Bill, there are a number of important considerations that help to build a better culture of recognition:

Communication – from a simple thank you, to honest conversations and feedback, and more collaborative ways of working. Certainly Gen Y want constant feedback.

Publicity – Bill talked about the power of publicity to magnify the virtue of individual recognition to the rest of the organisation and beyond.

Flexibility – Recognition can be very different from one person to another, depending on their intrinsic motivations and lifestyle.

Values-aligned – By aligning recognition to a value, you are driving behaviours as well as rewarding contribution.

We discussed the advent of technology that helps drive recognition – and in particular, social elements that in many ways micmic the social behaviours externally.  Opinion was divided over the use of this technology – perhaps more relevant or more used within other cultures (for example, SE Asia or North America).  But it does provide choice, and maybe we should work harder to make this type of technology a success.

What the technology does offer is personalisation, and we also discussed creating a dialogue with employees about what they want.  Of course, you can’t give them everything.  But if at the very least, you consult and feed back, you are recognising their contribution.  There was also the converse – too much consultation can create a volume of requests and suggestions that you can’t always respond to.  Time just doesn’t allow.

Interestingly so much of this comes down to behaviours, and the trust and tolerance you build through leaders setting great examples, managers working with their teams and individuals feeling that they have a voice and are being listened to.  Interestingly, one of our number talked about training focused on giving and receiving thanks – a session that I’m sure I missed in my management development!

The final discussion focused around different engagement for different people – whether that’s because of their intrinsic motivation or because of generational or cultural differences.  Recognition is not an exact science, and like so much of engagement, it needs to be relevant and personal.


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