I'd like to begin by addressing the four specific issues
from your employee satisfaction survey:
Equity built into the program needs to be
apparent to all. Involving employees in both design and
administration serves a number of objectives. Not only
should it increase the perception of fairness, but it
provides an excellent opportunity to communicate with
employees one more time about the values the organization
holds dear. Your employees' chief responsibility is to
make sure that the recognition system meets their needs.
You are responsible for making sure that it meets the
needs of the organization.
"Whether a non-manager
can meet the criteria"
Change the makeup of the teams who review the
nominees and include a cross-section of people from
diverse levels of the organization, not just senior
Clarify the organizational values and objectives
(desirable behaviors) that the plan is designed to
reinforce. Then create a number of different categories
of awards that recognize achievement in those behaviors.
• By level-this will insure
that people at all levels know they are eligible
• By location
• By type of behavior or
• Customer service or
satisfaction (external and internal)
• Innovation and risk
• Employee development
• Contribution to
• Improvement in work
• Quality of work (where
• Individual contribution to
the enhancement of teamwork
"Deserving employees may miss out because
they were not nominated"
Provide for peer and customer nominations as well as
supervisory nominations. Give publicity to the nominator
as well as the recipient. Broadening the categories as
described above will also help.
"The standards are too high"
This strikes me as primarily a communications
issue. If the award is properly positioned, it should be
clear that the standards are high, as they should be. It
will raise the significance of the award if it is
understood that the performance of the recipients is
Some closing thoughts: Don't have only managers
poll their staffs. Rather, form a team to develop the
redesign with a high degree of representation by
employees, in which ideas can be fully aired and
explored, without filtering by supervisory personnel.
Identify the participants on this team when publicizing
the improvements it implements. Balance the criteria so
that no part of a job suffers when a person sets his/her
sights on an award criteria.
Consider naming the awards after employees who
have in the past most demonstrated their commitment to
those values. Naming the award enhances its perceived
value in the organization and becomes part of its
history. Consider creating a plaque or trophy on which
the names of past and present recipients are
memorialized. Today's "role models" become tomorrow's
Farrell is a senior manager
at Ernst and Young's Quality Improvement practice. He has
assisted orgnaizations of all types and sizes in the
design and implementation of improvment strategies and
processes throughout the world. He is author of numerous
articles ranging from "Quality Function Deployment"
to "The Human Side of Quality." His current
focus is on the management of change and ISO
October 2000 News for a