Recognition Planning

Karl Bimshas
4 min readSep 22, 2023
Recognition Planning by Karl Bimshas

You know recognition is essential, so do you have a plan? Fundamentally, creating a recognition plan is a tangible expression of gratitude towards those who’ve helped you with your goals. As straightforward as that is, many fall short because they forget people are unique, and what fuels their motivation varies. So, how do you ensure your recognition plan hits the mark for everyone on your team?

Start with a Conversation. Building a recognition plan starts with asking. Engage your team members in a conversation about what recognition means to them. Conduct surveys and sit down for one-on-one talks to understand their preferences. Some may cherish a shiny plaque, while others might savor a team lunch. Some value cold hard cash, and others would move heaven and earth for the chance to leave early or have extra time off. You won’t know until you ask.

Personalization is Key. Understanding what inspires your team is personal, but it’s essential. For example, suppose you thrust an introvert into the spotlight; you might not just embarrass them but discourage them from future efforts. Similarly, missing the mark with an extrovert by slipping a gift card into their mailbox when they were hoping for a parade is a recipe for disappointment. The lesson? Personalization.

Pre-Recognition Conversations. Be sure to find out what they desire before someone has earned recognition. Create a list of potential recognition options and have each team member rate their preferences. In your one-on-one meetings, discuss these preferences openly. It’s crucial to communicate that you can’t always fulfill every wish; recognition isn’t directly tied to dollars; its value stems from the words “I noticed and appreciated what you did there. It helped a lot. Thank you.”

Charting the Culture Matrix. You’ll uncover your organization’s current recognition culture once you survey your team and compile the results. Are most seeking more time off? Do they desire exposure to different projects? Are they engaged or disinterested? The answers are right there; you only have to ask, listen, and act.

Listen more often.

Building a recognition plan is a strategic approach to creating a consistent and meaningful culture of appreciation. Let’s break down the steps to making your recognition plan effective.

1. Define Objectives — Set clear objectives for your recognition plan. What are your goals? Do you want to improve employee retention, enhance teamwork, or boost productivity? Knowing your objectives is the first step in crafting a meaningful plan.

2. Understand Employee Preferences — Invest time in understanding what your employees value regarding recognition. Some may prefer public acknowledgment, while others favor private appreciation. Effective leaders absolutely cater to individual preferences.

3. Align with Company Values — Ensure your recognition plan aligns seamlessly with your organization’s core values. Recognition must reinforce behaviors and actions that mirror your company’s mission and culture.

4. Establish Criteria — Define specific criteria for recognition by outlining the behaviors, achievements, or contributions that merit acknowledgment; this ensures fairness and consistency.

5. Create a Mix of Recognition — Diversify your recognition initiatives to cater to different preferences and accomplishments. This can include verbal praise, thank-you notes, awards, or monetary incentives.

6. Involve Leadership — Engage other leaders and managers in your recognition plan. They play a vital role in modeling recognition behavior.

7. Implement Regular Feedback — Encourage ongoing feedback from employees and managers to monitor your plan’s effectiveness. Use this feedback for continuous improvement.

8. Communicate the Plan — Ensure all employees understand the recognition plan, including criteria, types of recognition, and the nomination or selection process.

9. Train Others — Equip everyone with the skills to recognize and appreciate their team members effectively. Help them understand the importance of timely and specific recognition.

10. Celebrate Milestones — Include significant milestones and achievements in your recognition plan. Celebrate work anniversaries, project completions, and other notable accomplishments.

11. Recognize Teams and Individuals — Acknowledge team efforts and individual contributions. Recognizing teams fosters camaraderie, while individual recognition reinforces personal effort.

12. Review and Update — Regularly assess your plan’s impact using employee engagement, retention, and productivity data. Based on these insights, refine the plan as needed.

Your recognition plan is evergreen and must adapt to your organization’s changing needs. By consistently celebrating your team’s efforts and achievements, you create a culture of appreciation that fosters growth and success, individually and collectively. So, start crafting your recognition plan today, and watch the transformative power of appreciation unfold within your organization.

About Karl Bimshas

Karl Bimshas is a Boston-bred, California-chilled Leadership Consultant and Writer. As the founder of Karl Bimshas Consulting, he provides customized leadership development resources and accountability partnering for busy professionals who want to manage better and lead well.

With Karl Bimshas Consulting, you become a confident and competent leader without becoming the kind of jerky boss everyone has had and no one wants again, even if your self-confidence has taken a hit.



Karl Bimshas

Boston-bred and California-chilled Leadership Adviser | Writer | Podcast Host who helps busy professionals who want to manage better and lead well.