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Peer to Peer Recognition Builds a Great Culture

March 9th, 2017 by Lisa Porro, Inspiring HR

Is it annual review time at your company?  Do you have leaders scrambling for “content” on those they may have not provided feedback to throughout the year?

Think Annual Reviews aren’t worth it?  While there is a movement to do away with them, that only works in a company where employees are given feedback, often; from their leaders and from each other.

Annual Reviews commit leaders, who might otherwise overlook providing feedback, to reflecting – summarizing – planning, at least once per year.

What do Performance Reviews have to do with Peer to Peer recognition?

See reflecting above.  

It is one thing for a leader to have an opinion on performance.  But a credible, well rounded opinion, should include how employees are interacting and being productive with each other; to make sure their team and your company can prosper.

We are a part of and have advised many companies on the value of a great workplace culture.  If you are a service company, happy employees generally yields happy and long term clients.

Peer to Peer recognition, formal or informal, is invaluable to maintaining and maturing a great place to work culture.

Imagine getting a sincere, heartfelt kudos from someone you respect…  Someone who appreciates your professionalism, your leadership and teamwork.  Someone who does not HAVE to recognize you as a part of the annual performance cycle and isn’t your supervisor.

Recognition from a manager is great, but recognition from a peer, a co-worker, can be an unexpected boost.

Co-workers see the good, the bad and the ugly of their fellow employees’ working lives and when they see a reason to call attention to someone for a job well done, it can be a great thing.

A Peer Recognition Program, when done properly, can be great for morale.  Done poorly, it can feel like an administrative burden with little meaning.  Employees who are forced into the process won’t ever be truly willing participants and it defeats the purpose of the program.

If you are considering implementing a peer recognition program:

  • Make a plan. If it’s a brand new idea, be sure to set aside a small slice of the budget.  Starting small will give you something to build on should the program take off in future years and help you gain buy-in if someone else is approving the budget.  Next, dig into the details.  How will the nominations be handled?  What can employees nominate their co-workers for?  Who will decide on the awards?  How often will awards happen?
  • Don’t force it. When soliciting employees to recognize their peers, it’s important to not force the issue.  Mandating that they recognize one co-worker a month or putting too strict, or too detailed, of rules in place takes the sincerity out of the sentiment and eventually, will probably cause the program to fail.  A few simple guidelines will set the tone for a streamlined program employees will be more apt to use.
  • Be inclusive. Not only should all employees be included in the program, but they should be included regardless of current performance ratings or whether they are on a Corrective Action Plan.  An employee who is struggling to regain a foothold at work might get a real boost if recognized for something positive.
  • Make it meaningful. An e-mail announcement or certificate, while a nice gesture, may not be enough.   A small trinket sporting the company logo will probably go unused and eventually be discarded.  Employee rewards don’t have to be expensive:  Consider adding a PTO day to an employee’s balance, a pair of movie tickets to the local theater, or a gift certificate for a local eatery.  Managers of award recipients should be involved as well – they should be notified if they are not aware of the nomination in order to give some insight on what kind of award might be the most meaningful.
  • Celebrate as a team. When a team member is the subject of deserved peer recognition, it’s an occasion.  Encouraging managers to bring in a continental breakfast, lunch or afternoon snack will mark it without breaking the budget and will may encourage employees to continue with the nominations.  While some award recipients may be uncomfortable with the focused team attention (this will need to be gauged individually by employee), it’s important that it not go uncelebrated.
  • Keep a record. Peer recognition is something that should be recorded, added to employee files and to the list accomplishments in a performance assessment.   It’s validation of a job well done and employees should know that it is as meaningful to the company as it is to them.

An effective Peer-to-Peer Recognition program can help employees look for ways to appreciate their co-workers, give a boost to those employees who receive the awards and could encourage further teamwork and a collaborative working environment.  Time spent at work – which is the majority of the week – should be time well spent.

If you are getting ready to do an Annual Performance Review for the first time, here is a good read.

Click the link to view the recent INFINITI HR blog: Fluctuating Workweek and FLSA Compliance or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance and benefits.

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