Recognise This! –“What everybody else is doing” won’t meet your unique business needs.

As a child did you, like me, use the ever popular “But everyone else is doing it!” whine to try to convince your parents to let you do whatever foolish thing your friends were involved in?

How well did that work for you? It never worked for me. The most common answer I got was, “If everyone else was jumping off a cliff, would you do it, too?” (Oddly, I think this parenting technique is culturally ubiquitous.)

If the “everybody else is doing it” argument didn’t work for you as a child, do you expect it to work any better when you’re proposing a new people process in your organisation? Ann Bares wrote well on this in a Compensation Café post summarising her lessons learned from WorldatWork’s 2011 Total Rewards conference.

    “Have we, as a profession, become too mired in discovering and copying what others are doing, at the expense of really learning the business of our businesses and figuring out what will drive their success?  Have we bought the lazy premise that simply mimicking the market is a sound reward strategy?”

I think companies have stuck with Years of Service, Employee of the Month, and sales incentive programmes as the primary if not only means of employee recognition and reward programmes in their organisations for decades for just this reason. “Everybody else is doing it. We’ve always done it this way.”

Of course, I advocate launching an entirely new approach of truly strategic employee recognition that aims to recognise 80-90% of employees based on demonstration of company values in their daily work in contribution to achieving company objectives. Doing so can be frightening – but the rewards are exponential compared to the old-school programmes – double digit increases in employee engagement, increased retention and, most importantly, fundamental company culture change.

But you have to have the courage to look beyond “what everyone else is doing,” do the work of looking at your unique business needs, and create the programme that meets those unique needs. Sure, check references on vendors. Find out what other people are doing to learn what may work in your organisation, too, but don’t blindly copy.

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