Fostering Excellence
Bringing out the best in each of us

Six Elements of a Good Recognition Program  

Feeling appreciated is an important part of every employee’s emotional experience in the workplace. Your employees do great work, and they want and deserve to be recognized for the accomplishments they bring to move the company vision forward. As a leader, you can have a lasting positive impact in your employee’s experience within the organization. Further, you can better realize your company’s vision and goals by rewarding your employee’s great work furthering that vision. Recognition is an important part of motivating employees.

Good recognition programs require some careful thought. As a leader, you owe it to your workforce to craft a recognition program that meets their needs and is built in reference to your business realities. Here are some important things to consider when designing and implementing a company recognition program:
​​Public and Visible – Make space in your office for a ‘wall of fame’ or carve out real estate in your company’s news letter where your teams and team members can be highlighted for their accomplishments. This gesture can go a long way in helping them feel appreciated for the good work they do. Formal recognition should always be public, visible and accessible.

Commensurate with the Accomplishment – The level of recognition should be commensurate with the level of accomplishment. Too little praise for a very large accomplishment can demotivate team members, whereas too much praise for smaller accomplishments belittle the recognition program and make it of little value. Take some time to think about what you will be recognizing and what will be the reward. Ensure the accomplishments and rewards are proportionate; this will give your program credibility and will more likely have the desired effect.

Properly constructed, your recognition program will provide a positive environment where employees can work towards your company’s vision as members of a valued team making a difference in the important work of your organization. Take the time to ensure your program recognizes teamwork, is contextual, timely, consistent, public and commensurate!

Do you need help with a review of your recognition program? Do you need assistance drafting an award justification? I would love to assist you! I can be contacted at [email protected]

Michael Farr, PMP, is a Chief Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and founder of He is passionate about recognition and enabling professionals to motivate their organizations through recognizing their member’s excellence. When he is not slaying dragons with his kids, he can be found at @fosterxcellence on Twitter and @fosteringexcellence on Facebook.
Recognizes Team Work – If your recognition program only focuses on individual performance, it can hinder teamwork because it can become a zero-sum game for praise within a team. Recognizing teams for successes can build teams where recognizing only one member of a team can hurt those important team dynamics. If your program recognizes the achievements of individuals, make sure that there is a component that recognizes the success of teams. Nurture those team relationships!

Forwards Your Vision – Recognition should promote performance and successes that compliment your company’s vision statement. Recognition programs that celebrate every win can be cumbersome and difficult to implement. Be choosy and celebrate those successes that best further the company’s vision.  When your recognize those milestones that further your vision, you motivate further milestones but also have another platform to articulate that vision to your organization.

Timely – Rewarding a team member for a job well done should be done as soon as possible, as close to the event as possible. Nothing can be more demotivating for a team member than being congratulated on good work which was done so long ago that the best wishes are stale. Strike while the iron is hot and praise those team members for their successes soon after they achieve them!

Consistent Applied– If you have a program that rewards teams and team members for specific accomplishments, be consistent in those rewards. An inconsistent recognition program can foster feelings of favoritism and resentment when those that achieve those same accomplishments go unrecognized. If a recognition program is to have the positive emotional effect it is intended to have, it needs to be utilized in every relevant case. Formulate a good criterion that recognizes what you need to motivate, and then stay consistent with that criterion.

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