Recognise This! – Learning from others’ success can enhance our own efforts for engagement.

I enjoy Abhishek Mittal’s Mumblr blog. Abhishek is a senior consultant for Towers Watson based in Singapore. Recently he shared a case study on XL Axiata, an Indonesian mobile services operator and division of Axiata Group. In the case study, Xl Axiata explains four key steps they took to create an engaging work environment for employees, including a Performance-Based Culture:

“XL Axiata knew that if it wanted the employees to display the right behaviours, it had to recognise and reward these behaviours. The leaders shaped a culture where people and performance are talked about in the same breath. Employees who were creating value for the company were being recognised through company-wide emails and there was a focus on celebrating small successes in the long journey to achieve the vision. It also placed a higher emphasis on differentiating rewards based on performance. Mittal says,These initiatives helped employees build a clear line of sight to the company goals and sent a clear message that the company values high performance above everything.”

From this one focus alone, I see three clear lessons for employee engagement:

  1. Recognise and Reward the How not just the What
    Results (the What) can be achieved in many ways, not all of them positive (think Enron or any of the other recent scandals were the end was more important than the means). By focussing recognition and rewards on the right behaviours, XL Axiata is reinforcing that how the work is accomplished is as important as what is accomplished.
  2. Celebrate progress on the way to the big win
    While everyone must understand and work toward the ultimate vision and “big win,” small successes and progress along the way make the big win ultimately possible. Research conducted by Harvard Business School and reported in the book The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer proved the single greatest motivator for employees is making progress in meaningful work. Doing so increases engagement.
  3. Offer multiple, differentiated awards
    Recognition and rewards must be differentiated based on several factors including level of effort, contribution and results achieved. Offering the same level of recognition to someone who came up with an innovative idea that could transform product direction as you also offer to someone who contributed as part of a team to a lesser initiative merely serves to demotivate those who achieve great ambitions. Offering differentiated awards (awards at various levels) ensures both proper recognition and reward activity as well as eliminating any concerns around recognition becoming expected or run-of-the-mill.

What major initiatives has your organisation undertaken to encourage employee engagement?

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