Employee of the Month – Good Idea or Bad Idea

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We love it when listeners send us a question or issue – and I was happy to respond with specifics directly to the listener – and I thought this issue would be of interest to many other listeners…

The question is – Is it a good idea to have an employee of the month recognition program.

The general answer is “no” – an employee of the month type of recognition is generally not a good recognition program for a number of reasons:

1. It only recognizes one person – we know that recognition is a powerful motivator so why save it for only one person – in most organizations there are a few employees who stand out above the others anyway – so sometimes the same people win the prize over and over and the other employees give up hope in ever being able to win.

2. It can create unhealthy competition – for those who covet the recognition, it may cause them to compete with their co-worker – I caution organizations not to create a competitive spirit within their organization – compete with outside competitor, not between people and departments within.

3. It can make managers lazy in terms of other more regular forms of recognition – the kind that they give out on a day to day basis when people do a good job.

4. It can cause resentment – the listener who wrote in on this issue said that her daughter was becoming demotivated because, despite doing the things she thought would earn her the recognition – she was overlooked and wondered if she should even bother trying. So it can make some good performers demotivated if they aren’t recognized.

Some possible solutions:

1. Recognition is important – managers should steer away from from formalized programs until they master the art of giving people verbal feedback on a regular basis. Leaders not to give people positive reinforcement when they do a good job.

2. If you are going to create a program, make it so that a number of people can win by achieving a certain threshold or target. Make the target high enough that it is an accomplishment but not so high that it is impossible.

3. Give people a choice of recognition – different people want different things – so perhaps offer a family oriented gift for those with families, a gift certificate so a person can buy themselves something nice, etc.

4. Change it up to keep it fresh – Recognition programs can become stale – so reenergize them to keep them fresh – track something different or offer different prizes.