Lack of prestige ruins everything.

What the Experts Won’t Tell You: Lack of Prestige Ruins It All

Lots of time. Great managers. No popularity contests. These are secrets I’ve already busted open for you. But as you’re finding out, those aren’t the only secrets the experts don’t talk about. There’s more.

I found out the hard way that a lack of prestige can ruin your recognition program. If your employees don’t see and feel the benefits of becoming an award winner, your program is a big waste.

At Crystal D, our most prestigious recognition program is our Value Champions. This is a multi-faceted peer-to-peer program where our employees nominate each other for exemplifying a company value. One winner for each value is honored on WOW Day and given an award. They hold the title of Value Champion for the next twelve months until the next WOW Day.

I believed it was a program that employees would want to strive to be a part of. But I learned that not everyone saw the prestige of being an award winner as a motivator for being part of the program. One of our most committed employees refused to participate.

Lack of Prestige Ruins It AllThis guy was all-hands-on-deck when it came to every other aspect of company involvement. In fact, we thought he should be an award winner himself.  “If only he’d participate!” we lamented. 

Maybe he didn’t really understand how good it felt to win an award or maybe he just didn’t understand that he could be eligible for one of our awards.

So one day I stopped him in his tracks and asked him straight out: “Why don’t you participate in our program when you are such a key part of organization?”

“Simple,” he said. “Because the rewards aren’t really worth it to me. I mean, the crystal award is cool, but that is it.”

I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that. So I just nodded, thanked him for his honesty, and scratched my head. It took me a long time to unwrap what he had said. I shared his feedback with my leadership team, and together we realized that our recognition program lacked prestige.

How do you make something cooler? More awesome? Greater? When you think it is already great.

Well, you look at it from a different perspective, and you choose to see the side of it that is not so great. This takes guts. It takes honesty. It is humbling.

And it is totally worth the effort.

When we took a step back, we realized he was right. Our program was good. It honored deserving employees with a beautiful award and a couple gifts. But once the spotlight was off the winner on WOW Day, the fun was over. Winners went back to work only to have everything return to the way it was before they had become winners, making becoming a winner sort of meaningless.

Consequently, we got back to the drawing board and started making some changes to our program. We added additional benefits for our winners that allowed them to enjoy being a Value Champion long after WOW Day.

Each winner was given a front row parking spot with their name on it for the duration of their reign as Value Champion. Winners were asked to help coordinate fun celebrations like our holiday party and spring BBQ. Winners enjoyed a half-day off of work to Christmas shop and a second day on my boat during the summer. We started to rely on winners for advice, help, and perspective when we needed to see things from a new point of view.

How are these changes going today? Awesome.

One of my favorite things is to watch where people park the day after WOW Day. The official parking signs hold the names of the new winners, and they get front row parking. But out of habit, some still park in our general lot. It is gratifying to watch them realize that they have this new, special parking spot as they begin their reign as a Value Champion.

So what about that employee that didn’t participate? After we made changes to our program, did he participate? Did he win an award?

The answer to both of those questions is YES! He started to participate, and he did win an award. Adding the new benefits and prestige made the program worth it to this employee. Make sure the benefits of your program are worth it to your employees.

There is one more secret left to uncover. And it’s not something you can always control.

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