Recognise This – Individual recognition efforts cannot scale to contribute to achieving strategic business goals.

Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

As regular readers know, I advocate for strategic employee recognition, which is very different from individual recognition programmes. What’s the difference? Within most every company, there is some form of individual recognition programme – birthday cards, celebration of a new baby, perhaps even a cube full of balloons. And these are wonderful individual forms of recognition. But at some point, the group grows, or situations change, and the individual recognition simply isn’t scalable.

The picture at right illustrates this perfectly. This is not a joke. This is an actual birthday card given in the workplace. Check of the name of the recipient, pass it around for others to check off if they’d like to add their best wishes for a happy day.

I’m sure the birthday card practice started out as a much more sincere expression of birthday wishes. Over time, it got too difficult with too many people. Or perhaps the person who enjoyed coordinating the birthday left the organisation, so the personal process fell apart.

And that’s the challenge with individual recognition programmes. They rely on one person to execute well every time.

Strategic recognition, on the other hand, is a mass mobilization of all employees. Everyone is now empowered, encouraged and excited to appreciate and recognise each other for much more than a birthday. Ideally, all employees look to “catch someone doing something good” in line with company values or strategic objectives.

Have you experienced a well intentioned, yet poorly executed, recognition programme of some form?

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