recognize Inside and Outside the Box

Simple ways to help managers recognize for better results

In Recognition and Engagement, Recognition Awards by Lori McKnight

Think Inside and Outside the Box

Ways to help your managers recognize others more often

I was recently a guest on Callie Zipple’s HonestHR SHRM podcast (due out Nov 19th, just before Thanksgiving). Callie and I chatted about All Things Recognition.

One frequently asked question discussed was, “What to do when one manager does an outstanding job recognizing great work or years of service but the manager across the hall has a serious recognition blind spot”?

Despite recognition being the most affordable and powerful tool in a leader’s toolbox, it is also the most underutilized in business. Coaching supervisors and leaders on the importance of recognizing employees can be one of HR’s hardest jobs.

Here are some “inside and outside the box” ways for you to help your managers overcome a recognition blind spot.

“Outside the box” ways to encourage more recognition

1. Positive coaching

Many managers have been promoted because they’re highly skilled in their subject area but have little experience managing people. People management training is really important but often overlooked in the frenzy of running a business.

Coaching tip: Remind managers who aren’t participating in your recognition programs or flagged as a recognition scrooge, how they feel when their boss recognizes them for something they’ve worked hard on. It feels pretty good. Their employees are no different. Even a simple “thank-you” can cause an employee to engage. To have more confidence. To continue doing the great things for clients. To stop looking at job sites.

Here are a few other ideas to suggest…

  • recognize one person on their team at the beginning of every weekly meeting
  • schedule a reminder in the calendar to post a thank you or send a thank you email to someone who helped them that day
  • be prepared. A little homework can make recognition feel more natural and authentic.

Download our Recognition Reminders Wallchart

2. What gets seen gets repeated

If your organization has a social recognition site…

  • print off examples of kudos other managers are giving to show how people are being recognized for great work and accomplishments
  • look at the number of recognition events a manager in a top performing unit is giving, compared to the manager in question. Sometimes numbers speak louder than words
  • make it fun to give recognition. Managers can set goals and recognize those who achieve them with points or creative rewards like having the manager agree to cleaning the deserving employee’s desk, having small branded on-the-spot gifts or spot cards available, ordering in pizza or sponsoring a coffee break.

3. Carrots work better than hammers

Even managers need motivation to change their behavior and want to see that their efforts are being recognized by superiors. Consider things like:

  • giving bonus points for every recognition event posted
  • showing a quarterly recognition report so they can see their delta
  • build a recognition target into managers’ performance and incentive plans so they are rewarded for recognizing others
“Inside the box” ways to encourage more recognition

1. Give managers a box – literally

CSI STARS prepares personalized recognition boxes for managers to present to their employees for service milestones or other big accomplishments. This box serves as a recognition reminder and gives managers something tangible and personal to present to the worthy recipient.

recognition box

What’s in our recognition box?

  • A personalized letter from an executive
  • A personalized certificate
  • An award selection brochure

We recently redesigned our Celebration boxes. See how awesome our 4 recognition packages are and 5 special ways these special re-usable keepsake boxes can spark good feelings long after the presentation.

2. Personalize a gift

CSI STARS Initials line

Remember that feeling as a child when you received a gift with your initials?

Well, CSI STARS Initials line of recognition awards let you personalize many practical and professional corporate gifts to include in your recognition box. It is guaranteed to get a “WOW” and a smile!

Recognition Awards

CSI STARS has amazing Recognition Awards personalized with your branding and employee’s name. Numerals, stickers, small gifts. Contact us to discuss all the options!

3. Add to your manager’s recognition toolbox

Make recognition easy. The more streamlined and simple your recognition initiatives are, the more they’ll be used. A social recognition platform is ideal as small expressions of recognition posted on the company dashboard can be multiplied by many as employees like, comment and share the creds.

CSI STARS recognition platform

If you’re a smaller organization or not ready for digital dashboard then having small branded gifts available for managers to give out; thank you cards at their disposal and forums scheduled to recognize others formally all help to spread a culture that makes people feel valued.

Does your organization have a novel “inside or outside” of the box way to recognize your employees? I’d love to hear! Shoot me an email at

Author: Lori McKnight

Lori McKnightLori is the VP of Recognition for CSI International Inc. She has a MBA with a minor in Human Resources, is a Certified Recognition Professional and member of the SHRM blog squad. Prior to joining CSI STARS, she worked at Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Youthography, a youth market research agency. Connect with CSI STARS on LinkedIn to learn how we cultivate a workforce that loves coming to work.