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The Top 10 Reasons Recognition Programs Fail...

A valued reader weighs in below on why Recognition programs fail in reaction to this column I wrote over at Workforce.com... Thanks Ron!


At 75, I have witnessed several formal Recognition Programs and have seen the flaws in all of them.   The downsides overweigh the upsides. Trophies

1. There is never a substitute for daily recognition from the boss – it is personal and real time.  Anything else is Management by Gimmick. 

2. Bosses are stingy with their thank-you’s because there is a formal program.

3. Recognition Programs typically evolve into personality contests.  Introvert contributors tend to get ignored.

4. For every winner, there are many losers and they feel like losers after the gala is over.

5. The losers tend to downgrade the alleged contributions made by the winners.

6. Instead of emulating the winners, the average person does what they always do.

7. The awards are not always  treasured by the winners, ala, give me money, not a parking space.

8. Most of the programs I have seen evolve into peer recognition programs due to the many flaws in the top down programs which become apparent.

9. The peer programs fade away too, because they are very popularity-driven.

10. A process of every manager of Catching People Doing Things Right is 10X more powerful.

I would have liked your dad.  My dad was a college teacher and I heard his shoes hitting the ground everyday too.  I also learned my work ethic from him.  External hoopla meant nothing to him and he didn’t wear a blue collar.

Employees are starved for meaningful work, a larger purpose and the need for a good boss.  Article after article are saying that employees leave bosses, not companies even the companies with Recognition Programs.

Ronald Ulrici
HR Director



Spending a small amount of time training managers on how to give effective praise/recognition
(timely, specific, appropriate to individual) is well worth the investment.

As an engineer, I have received several awards in the thousand dollar range.
I am sure I could eventually remember what some of those awards were for...

I had a boss that knew I was in the middle of some home improvement work
and give me a $100 gift card to Home Depot. This was for work done on
a corporate Y2K project if that give you an idea of how long I have remembered that.
I bought a kick-ass, neon green extension cord that I still have.

Score 1 for that boss.

Jorge Bradley

Wow. Great article. Actually we were using a recognition program in our company for 4 months, with Guudjob App, and we are impressed on results.
We have decreased turnover in a 13%. Enhance motivation by 4% and people love to recognize in real time their peers easily from their phones.

The key for our company, was to turn this program into a game and communicate every single month about the best employee based on core values or skills. I don´t now if we will be able to keep this trend in our company but due to we limited the number of recognitions monthly to 3, our team love to play monthly.

Thanks for sharing!

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