When I have raised this topic with management teams in the past, they often focus immediately on the reward aspect and translate this to mean some type of bonus or cash reward. Because of this, they push back on employee recognition and reward programs, citing that bonus programs are already in place and as such there is no need to introduce a separate bonus related to improvement. What they don't realize is that recognition and reward independent of a cash reward system is a critical element of a culture of continuous improvement.
Show your employees that you value their contributions.
We all want to feel that our contributions have value. After all - if we're working hard to improve the organization and our boss doesn't even notice, there's very little incentive to continue trying, right? Your employees need you to recognize the work they do and the effort they make. It doesn't have to be anything fancy; simply calling them out on their success and thanking them for the effort goes a long way toward providing motivation for continued engagement.
Celebrate success in creating a culture of continuous improvement
Throughout this blog series I have discussed the role of the leader in being part of a cohesive team focuses on doing the work that needs to be done while also creating an environment that will foster and sustain continuous improvement around that work. If your employees are engaging in continuous improvement, you're making an impact on your company culture! Celebrate that with your employees, and encourage them to recognize each other for their contributions to this culture shift.
Try a formal program - or not
There are lots of ways to approach recognition and reward programs. Some leaders find that the “Employee of the Month” method has a great effect, while others believe that this can morph into a popularity contest amongst staff. A more objective approach is to identify clear, measurable metrics related to ideas generated or improvements implemented and publically recognize people who meet those goals. This is my preferred approach, as it makes these individuals feel good about themselves and it also stimulates an environment of healthy competition within a team or group.
The recognition is more important than the reward.
Regarding the reward, this can manifest itself in many different forms outside of the traditional method of cash payments. In fact, many would assert that cash payments are detrimental to the growth of the continuous improvement culture. I'd suggest A gift certificate, tickets for the ball game, or dinner for the individual and their partner are all great reward ideas that can be put in place and will not conflict with any other bonus program that might already be in place.
A consistent recognition and reward program for continuous improvement properly managed across an enterprise will help stimulate and sustain a culture of continuous improvement.
What recognition and reward tactics work for you? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!
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