Employee motivation is essential in any business and often recognition programs fall short. According to reports from BizJournals.com, managers can make the most of their recognition programs by avoiding these most common problems:

• The rush to recognition. Develop a systematic plan that is highly desirable for individual and team recognition, as well as essential for organizational recognition.

• Confusing priorities and alignment. Make sure you aren’t sending mixed messages that confuse — rather than guide — employees.

• Subjective recognition. Subjective impressions are often inaccurate. Therefore, managers should use carefully defined objective criteria, such as a checklist to identify results that are worthy of recognition.

• Untimely recognition. Develop a streamlined process so that people can receive timely recognition. Avoid requiring multiple levels of approvals that will often slow down the process of recognition.

• Rewards that aren't rewarding. Talk with employees to see what motivates them and adjust your recognition programs to meet those needs.

• Inappropriate recognition. Don't downplay or over-do recognition. Giving a "nice Job" to someone who worked for years to achieve a project wont be enough, while awarding the employee of the month a cruise is inappropriate.

• One size doesn't fit all. Equal treatment isn't always the best way to go. Give praise where praise is due.

• Loss of relevance and freshness. Revamp your recognition program often to keep things fresh and employees motivated. According to the article, a typical recognition program today has a shelf life of about 15 weeks. Figure out what works and adjust accordingly.

• Entitlement recognition. Employee recognition should be special, not routine.

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