What is the Role of Management in Recognition?

How to Build Senior Management Buy-In

The most effective way to gain senior management buy-in is to illustrate the effect an employee engagement program has on the bottom line of the organization. One of the most powerful ways to get a manager’s attention is by painting a picture of how the recognition program will profit the organization.

If you need to secure management buy-in, focus on these three critical points:

Employee Productivity: Engaged employees are more productive and profitable for the company, improving overall efficiency throughout the organization.
Employee Retention: Retaining employees eliminates all costs required to hire new ones. Plus, it is often credited with heightening morale.
Customer Satisfaction Rates: Satisfied employees lead to higher customer satisfaction rates, improving the profitability of the organization.

Keep your managers focused on the results your organization will achieve.

Manager Accountability
Most companies have a hard time holding managers accountable for their role in implementing an employee engagement or recognition program.

Below are suggestions to help your organization get started:

  • Start by adding "recognizing employees" to the manager job description.
  • Train managers to make meaningful recognition presentations.
  • Develop an easy way for managers to track their own progress.
  • Report the results of the recognition program back to the managers. Let them know what is working and what is not working.
  • Define performance objectives for all leaders.

Senior Level Managers vs. Middle Managers
Most managers agree that engaged employees are necessary for the health of the organization. One way to create engagement is through recognition. However, senior level managers play a distinctly different role then middle or frontline managers when overseeing a recognition program.

Managers should split their responsibilities in this way:

Senior Managers - Strategize

Middle Managers - Implement

Do the right thing

Do things right

Ask what and why

Ask how and when

Establish direction

Plan and budget

Align workforce

Organize staff

Motivate and inspire

Control and problem solve

Establish vision

Take care of day-to-day

Produce change

Implement change

To better define management responsibility, Recognition Professionals International (RPI) separates recognition-related management responsibilities into five key elements:


    • Senior management defines and documents its overall recognition strategy, including policies, procedures, and program objectives that reflect its commitment to recognition.
    • Frontline managers are the key ingredient to the success of a recognition program. They oversee the day-to-day activities in an organization.


    • Senior management supports the recognition program, communicates support to all employees, and is personally involved in the program.
    • Frontline Mangers present employees with formal, informal, and day-to-day recognition. They determine when and how recognition is distributed in their department. They also implement any necessary changes to the recognition program.


    • ┬áSenior management identifies and provides adequate resources to manage and maintain the recognition program.
    • Frontline managers use these resources to effectively implement the program.


    • ┬áSenior management makes recognition part of management review and agendas.
    • Frontline managers know that senior management will hold them responsible for participating constructively.


    • Senior management periodically reviews the recognition program to determine effectiveness.
    • Frontline managers are held accountable and track their performance and progress within their departments

Use the matrix below to map out the initial management tasks and responsibilities for your organization:




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Source: Recognition Fundamentals: An Introduction to Recognition Strategy and Best Practices. Recognition Professionals International.

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