Need Change to Succeed Quickly? Try Recognition

August 8, 2016 Derek Irvine

By Derek Irvine

Recognize This! – Social recognition is a simple, fast solution to ensuring the success of change efforts.

One of the broad challenges faced by many of the global companies I speak with comes down to change management. For them, it is not only a question of the ultimate success of a given effort, but also their ability to diffuse those changes rapidly across their global employee base. As markets demand more frequent pivots and increased flexibility, this ability becomes especially crucial.

There are a few usual suspects that come to mind as solutions, well-received practices that support the diffusion of change across functional units and geographies. Communication plans, participation in decision-making, training around what new behaviors are expected.

Still, one set of practices is often overlooked, yet has the ability to quickly align employees behind new sets of expectations and encourage new behaviors in a more rapid fashion. Creating a culture of recognition may be one way that organizations can quickly reinforce new business priorities or focus areas throughout an entire organization.

To understand why, it’s important to call attention to several key attributes of a culture of recognition.

Within such a culture, employees have built a capacity for mobilization and involvement. Not only are they more attuned to the contributions of their colleagues, they are also more likely to see opportunities where they can positively contribute to the work of others.

Organizations with cultures of recognition can leverage those social relationships to enhance and improve other important dimensions of the organization’s people or business culture. Because recognition moments are frequent and timely, involvement is similarly built into everyday work.

These dynamics speak to the collective magnitude of employee effort, but direction also plays a key role. Within a culture of recognition, activity and behaviors are closely aligned to core values, ensuring that individual effort and organizational success are aligned. In emphasizing behaviors that reflect core values, there is flexibility for leadership to call attention to the new ways that those values should be demonstrated. Whether across the organization or locally within a single department, key behaviors can be recognized that support change and are appropriate to each office and employee. Importantly, aside from the social process of highlighting those behaviors, programmatic changes are not required, facilitating the speed with which new expectations can be carried throughout the organization hierarchy.

The final point speaks to the incidental creation of positive and proactive attitudes towards change. A culture of recognition allows individuals to focus on the benefits of how new ways of working are positively impacting their own roles and the organization as a whole. In short, it creates a more human workplace in which individuals are more engaged, challenged, and motivated.

Through the combination of direction, magnitude, and positivity, a culture of recognition is a powerful tool for organizations looking to improve their ability and speed in implementing change.

How have you seen coworkers positively respond to change?

About the Author

Derek Irvine

Derek is senior vice president, client strategy and consulting, at Workhuman.

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