customer experience employee recognition2-way conversations are now the norm! Social media, reality TV show voting, and smart phones make high interaction and accessibility (also known as Web 2.0) a way of life. This is a trend that’s here to stay. And business processes that invite interaction at all employee levels are also proving more effective. So I’m wondering . . . Which business process have you adapted to Web 2.0 principles of 2-way conversation?

Let’s talk about interaction and accessibility of employee recognition, and in particular, team recognition. Typically, managers are asked to nominate deserving recognition candidates — which is great, but of course this is dependent on the manager’s perspective . . . it’s 1-way communication. The managers typically need to document the recognition candidate’s achievements, adding to the managers’ already high load of paperwork duties. And this usually happens last-minute. Once the recognition recipient is selected, there is one-way communication from management. Really, how accessible and empowering is this process?

Have you ever considered what might happen if your team recognition program became a 2-way process? What if …

  • You could tap into all the employees’ perspectives in addition to a manager’s viewpoint?
  • Achievements could be documented real-time, as they occur, by the employees themselves?
  • Management had visibility to all this while it was happening . . . and what if management could provide constructive feedback to make the achievements even more significant and far-reaching?
  • “Runners-up” got a chance to use this constructive feedback to re-submit their achievements and win an award in the next round of recognition?

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When these 2-way conversation aspects are integrated into your recognition strategy, you can really empower employees meaningfully. Guidelines for self-reporting can raise the standards that employees strive for in the way they approach their achievements. Upward and horizontal visibility foster friendly competition and energetic focus in company objectives. You can also reap knowledge management benefits. 2-way conversation in recognizing achievements can be applied to any type of initiative … morale-building, quality improvement, customer-centricity, profitability improvement, breakthrough performance, and so forth.

Example from a leading Silicon Valley company: The firm wanted to encourage teams of employees from different functional areas to work together to solve customer issues, reduce costs, and prevent waste. Executives wanted these cross-functional teams to use proven quality tools. Use of quality tools is known to result in performance breakthroughs and sustainable continual improvement. So the company established an attractive, accessible team recognition program.

The results: The company has saved millions of dollars, resolved and prevented dozens of issues for customers’ success, and heightened employees’ commitment to one another and to the company. Participation in the program is voluntary, and it is widespread across geographies, product lines and support functions.

Here’s how it’s done: The success of the program for more than a decade is due in part to its emphasis on self-reporting of progress by participating teams. As the teams embark on their project they document their approach and monitor their progress in a user-friendly web-interfaced database. They report which quality tools they used, show trends with quantitative metrics, include comments of satisfaction from stakeholders, and demonstrate sharing of lessons learned. They also specify their sponsoring executive, participating functional areas, and which team members made primary contributions and which ones made secondary contributions to their process and achievements.

team recognition formHow award recipients are selected: The team recognition database allows executives to keep apprised of team momentum, reach out to stalled teams, and assign unbiased panels of director-level judges to review each submitted project. The judges are trained for consistent viewpoints in assigning ratings and providing constructive comments. Teams that are not among the top performers are encouraged to make adjustments for stronger results, and to re-submit their achievements in a subsequent quarter. This 2-way conversation throughout the Team Recognition process is empowering, and it has been a highly valuable method of engaging employees with enthusiasm and strong impact on business results.

How the awards are presented: Quarterly awards and the President’s Annual Award are given to the teams demonstrating the most robust means of obtaining the best results. Awards are multi-dimensional, including

  • Applause at all-hands meetings.
  • Acknowledgement by team members’ direct managers.
  • A congratulatory letter and certificate signed by the company president.
  • An achievements summary and team member listing in the company newsletter and on prominent posters in every company building worldwide.

Primary contributors to the team’s achievements also receive either a desk memento, gift certificate, company stock, luncheon with executives, or celebratory dinner, depending on the level of achievement. Annual Award plaques are permanently placed on a wall in the main employee cafeteria, and in the hallway leading to the company president’s office.

This is a living process: Program improvements are made annually, based on inputs from participating employees, organizational priorities such as new initiatives and higher standards, and occasional benchmarking with other companies. This self-reporting system and these proven practices have been adopted by several other firms.

As this case study demonstrates, 2-way conversation in team recognition is a break through strategy for employee engagement. It’s a superior approach for today’s workforce. This so-called accessible recognition approach works in motivating culture change, morale-building, retention, cost reduction, productivity, quality, customer focus, and more.

For successful setup , create performance categories that are meaningful to company objectives, specify self-reporting criteria that stretch employee performance to higher levels, and build-in vertical and horizontal visibility.

For successful 2-way conversation, engage executive sponsors to participate actively as judges in the Recognition Council, monitor common reference frames among judges, and build-in closed-loop communication among judges and participants.

For successful program value, recognize participants according to their contribution levels, focus on leading indicators — actionable metrics that can be impacted by the team prior to customers’ and investors’ experiencing those metrics’ consequences — and proliferate best practices throughout the organization.

Team recognition 2.0 is a key to employee engagement with great business results. Do you allow teams to self-report their progress toward defined standards supporting customer experience excellence?
(Your reply is welcome in the comment box at the bottom of this blog page)

For more information, see Embed Customer Experience Company-wide