Presented by: Mike Ryan, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Strategy
Presented by: Mike Ryan, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Strategy
A recent post in Fast Money Magazine headlined with this warning: You’re only as Strong as Your Weakest Manager. It cautioned that in today’s new work systems the days of separating leaders from managers are long over.
Managers have always played a key role in motivating employees. Workers are more than twice as likely to be engaged when their managers recognize their talents and acknowledge how they use those unique skills to contribute to the organization’s success.
All of that is true. But bear in mind that knowledge-driven businesses are structured differently than traditional ones. They are highly virtual and much more integrated. Employees are geographically displaced and work across different departmental lines. Many of today’s organizations today are “cross-matrixed” where managers manage projects more so than people. They must inspire resources from various departments and background to contribute on assignments. They must get them to work jointly toward a unified goal and their ability to inspire people from assorted work teams is a big factor in success. In essence, they must be leaders more so than managers.
Managers who know how to do this get better results than those that do not. These “leaders” recognize their project teams, including direct reports as well as borrowed workers and provide a psychological safety net for new ideas. Here managers have used recognition to unlock their leadership potential as well as their team’s contributions.
The manager in all of us will get a project done on time and on budget. That’s what good managers do. But recognition makes managers better leaders. The leader uses recognition to nurture the talents of employees and to cultivate workers who produce at higher levels. Leaders build teams that collaborate freely and find creative solutions to complex challenges. Their team members surpass expectations and along the way live the brand and define the culture.
What makes a recognition portal so valuable to employee recognition planners? The list is long and hits on a wide range of benefits; from cost efficiency for HR managers with tight budgets to enhanced motivational impact for employees along with better compliance and control tools for financial sponsors who need to manage the investment closely.
But for me the biggest benefit is in the way the portal turns what can be a complicated maze into a simple and straightforward process.
For starters a properly designed portal is supported by a data-driven decision engine which determines who can earn what and under what circumstances. And it calculates decisions with complete accuracy, often across a variety of rule structures; some of them program specific, others dictated by corporate policy. So what’s the net effect? Employees see personalized content (in the form of offers, results and updates) delivered to their pages throughout the program, while recognition managers can be assured that the right employee audiences are getting the right messages at the right times. Try managing that on your own.
Portals even make complicated analysis easier. At any time someone with a vested interest in the program (or the outcomes it’s designed to improve) will want to know what’s happening and will want access to the data that gets to the heart of that question. They will demand information that is timely, detailed and actionable.
But what makes data thorough for some occasions makes it mere clutter for others. Portal-driven dashboards can make the presentation (and comparison) of information more streamlined and more to the point. Authorized users can start at a high level and rapidly zoom down to get a very granular view. That access gives users the power to examine specific actions and outcomes with ease.
Doing more with less has become a universal corporate mandate. And sometimes that means doing more with fewer complications. That’s exactly what a properly designed portal allows you to do.
Are you ready to tap into encore employees? That’s the label author Marci Alboher puts on 50+ year olds’ who are re-positioning themselves in the workforce, often morphing from one career identity to another.
In The Encore Career Handbook she points out the myriad of challenges and opportunities that await them. Some will need retaining and just about all of them will need to get used to the idea of being managed by someone who is younger and less seasoned than they are. Big adjustments await everyone involved.
But companies that do tap into their experience will be rewarded. Encores represent a newfound dimension of talent and perspective. They possess time-tested know how and they understand the connection between people and businesses better than younger workers do. They bring a welcomed level of maturity and personal responsibility to the table.
But before you add them to the fold you need to ask yourself if your recognition program is geared to unleashing that potential. Part of the answer lies in understanding what motivates older workers.
Start by recognizing their contributions as “leadership in action”. Celebrate the value of their experience and wisdom—even if it was gathered someplace else. This will flatter them and assure them that they are wanted where they are.
You should also reward them when they give back; something that may take a little coaxing until they get comfortable. Applaud their efforts to mentoring younger employees and don’t hesitate to point out any of their extra efforts—you will compliment them by noticing and at the same time reinforce the value sets germane to their generation.
This advice also works, by the way, for companies looking to retain older workers—those who may be straying emotionally as they envision their careers ending. Be forewarned: Many boomers are contemplating the next phase of their work lives now and you should use your recognition program to show them that their work is still fascinating and appreciated.
In an economic environment where everyone is watching every dollar closely it may seem disingenuous to suggest that cash is not the motivator it is perceived to be. But in reality that is indeed the case. Non-cash inducements are actually more effective and therefore more efficient in capturing an employee’s attention.
In some cases, the c-suite already knows this and is looking for HR to come in and advocate their prudent usage. In other words, if you are preparing a business cases advocating more use of non-cash awards – chances are, you will find a very receptive audience within your c-suite.
Last summer PriceWaterHouseCoopers conducted a global survey, querying 1,200 plus CEO’s. The survey contained a variety of questions associated to maximizing the impact of their worldwide talent investments. They wanted to know how these business leaders planned to attract, optimize and retain talent moving forward. Sixty-five percent said they plan to use more non-financial rewards to motivate their employees; eighteen percent described planned increases as significant. In fact, of all the “people strategies” mentioned, leveraging the impact of non-cash rewards ranked the highest against all other possible changes.
The current business economy continues to re-present challenges for everyone. For recognition program planners looking to make a bigger impact, non-cash awards just makes better business sense. The enduring appeal of tangible awards is well documented. Non-cash awards are a cost effective alternative to cash. You should not hesitate to suggest them to senior management.