A foundational tenet of strategic employee recognition is recognizing the “how” as well as the “what” – in other words, acknowledging and praising the manner in which results are achieved as much as recognizing the results themselves. This is a critical point as simply recognizing the “what” (the results) without recognizing the “how” (the values demonstrated in achieving the results) can quickly lead a company down the Enron path. After all, one of Enron’s core values was “integrity” but that surely wasn’t apparent in how their employees were encouraged to achieve end results.
Another company in the news during the recession for too much focus on the “what” was Goldman Sachs. Now, I’m pleased to see the investment bank in the news for promoting a new reward approach based on demonstrating “cultural” behaviors in line with their company mission and reputational goals. From their Business Standards Committee Impact Report:
“We also changed our annual employee performance review and rewards processes to include an assessment of reputational excellence, linking “cultural” behavior to how our people are recognized and rewarded…
“Now, as part of the review questionnaire for all professionals, reviewers are asked to rate the reviewee with regard to their focus on trust, transparency and long-term orientation in connection with client relationships. These changes have reinforced four key messages to all of our employees regarding (1) the importance of serving our clients, (2) the importance of protecting the firm’s reputation and upholding our culture and values, (3) the link between ‘cultural’ behavior and how people are recognized and rewarded in our organization and (4) individual and collective accountability…
“These changes have impacted our decisions about compensation and who we reward. Moreover, our review and reward processes more powerfully communicate and reinforce to our professionals the need to focus on our clients and our reputation and to always act in accordance with the highest standards of the firm.”
Incorporating your core values into the formal performance review process directly is certainly one way of effectively driving home the importance of the “how.” Doing so more informally and frequently through timely, specific recognition throughout the year is also necessary to make living these “cultural behaviors” become second nature in how the work gets done every day.
How does your organization reinforce your core values in how employees are measured, recognized and rewarded?