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Today's emphasis on performance in business has created a new application for recognition programs focusing on performance. Understanding the basics of recognition can help companies to keep the emphasis on steady improvement in employee performance.

Here's how to introduce a recognition program to your organization:
Determine your objectives. Just what are you trying to accomplish? Reward tenure? Performance? Objectives should relate to one another, and there should be no more than three.
Analyze the demographics. Who are these people working for us? How do they recognize one another in their own cultures? What do people have in common?
Determine the statement you want to make. What should recognition say about your organization and it's goals? How lavish do you want to appear?
Develop a communications strategy. How will people know about this? Should it be through a newsletter? a mailing? a brochure? in the employee welcome kit? How will you remind them of it throughout the year?
Develop an awards strategy. Recognition programs without gifts ring hollow after a while, but lavishness usually is not essential. Sincerity is. That means selecting a corporate gift that reflects the kind of care that you appreciate when someone gives you a birthday present. It's the thought that counts. Keep in mind the company's culture, the nature of the audience, the need for at-home trophy value, the age and pace of the organization, and its prospects for growth.

Involve employees. Before doing anything, set up a committee of employees to obtain recommendations from the people who actually will be affected by the recognition effort. Bring in an outside expert, if necessary. If performance, rather than tenure, is your objective, make sure the committee gets involved in setting the goals, establishing the means of measuring performance, and reporting any organizational obstacles to improvement that may have escaped management's attention.

Develop a meaningful presentation strategy. If you are serious about recognizing people, do it right. Amaze recipients with the way you recognize them in front of their peers. Many companies hold annual awards banquets or meetings in which people receive their awards and thanks from a top executive. Rethink recognition on a regular basis. One of the primary goals of a service-awards program is to emphasize that there really is a future for people in today's corporations. As such, the program can be tinkered with from year to year, but generally it's expected to stay within the bounds of tradition. Recognition for performance, however, changes regularly, along with goals, market conditions, and financial results. A recognition program that operates on autopilot will have little impact.
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