Employee Recognition: The 21st Century Performance Master

A Wall Street Journal article has been getting a lot of attention this week.  The article, “My Colleague, My Paymaster,” describes a new phenomenon whereby employees’ bonuses are determined by their co-workers.  At Coffee & Power, each worker got a set amount of stock options that they could distribute to whomever they wanted (except themselves, of course).  Over the two-day period, employees could not speak to each other about it, thereby minimizing collusion.

Imagine that.  Your own colleagues deciding who deserves the highest bonuses based on the performance they see every day. As someone who has been in the corporate world for a few years now (please don’t check my LinkedIn profile to see my age), I can attest that recognition from my peers is more gratifying than any annual merit increase I’ve received. As one of the employees of Coffee & Power said, “It lets me reward people that management may not always recognize.”

The mechanism that Coffee & Power uses is designed to get clarity on their talent, so their key talent (including your hidden talent) rises to the top.  It’s like my colleague Derek Irvine recently said when discussing the Jeremy Lin buzz in the NBA, “you need more data.”

At Globoforce, our product is built upon this entire concept of the wisdom of crowds.  By crowd-sourcing employee recognition, you can pinpoint your leaders faster and more accurately than any other talent management solution. There is simply no better way to understand who your true influencers are within an organization.  While people have a natural tendency to want appreciation, people also have a strong inclination to give appreciation to the people who help them (or exhibit great behaviors or performance).

These recognition moments are incredibly compelling and useful data points that can be used to evaluate performance and measure the top influencers and leaders across the organization.  As the great Peter Drucker once said “what gets measured gets managed.” Armed with this type of data, HR and business leaders can tap into a wider net of opinions, providing more transparency and accuracy for true employee performance than ever before.

Jim Holincheck from Gartner released a report last week that perfectly expounded what recognition can do for employee performance management and talent management. In his 2012 Strategic Road Map for Employee Performance Management (membership required), Jim says that “leading organizations will start to move toward more bottom-up feedback, recognition and rewards.”  Managers can see the level of frequency of recognition and performance feedback for individual employees.  The result of this, as Jim says is, “senior executives can use this data to see if manager performance decisions align with what coworkers indicate through their actions.”  In addition, recognition can be used “to identify high-potential, high-performance individuals.”

This is similar in concept to Coffee & Power’s bonus list, though their recent exercise lacks the meaning behind the bonus allocations (a picture that employee recognition paints like no other HR software).  In the end, recognition becomes the performance storyteller.  It becomes the leading indicator as to who truly are your star employees – the ones you need to do everything you can to keep.

Grant Beckett (13 Posts)

As Vice President of Product, Grant leads Globoforce’s product strategy initiatives, drawing on his 20 years as a HR technology industry veteran. Grant enjoys working closely with Globoforce customers to continually innovate the company’s SaaS solutions to deliver on rapidly changing needs for fully measurable, reportable and interactive strategic recognition.