Home > Retired: KCS Practices Guide v5.3 > Section 2 KCS Practices and Techniques > The Evolve Loop > Practice 8: Leadership and Communication > Technique 5: Reward and Recognition Programs

Technique 5: Reward and Recognition Programs

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To motivate the right behavior and promote KCS adoption, many companies implement reward programs. Historically, reward and recognition programs are hard to get right. In addition to frequently mistaking real motivations, these programs often reinforce activities—not objectives and desired outcomes. And they can become outdated as the work environment and culture evolve, but seldom have an end of life plan.


We have learned a tremendous amount about what works. Recognition is a by-product of doing the right thing, and a communication tool for leaders. It does not replace leadership.


Some of the design principles of successful programs include:

  • Legitimate Metrics—tied to independent feedback and customer input/surveys vs. anecdotes/opinion

  • Alignment to Organizational Goals—clear, credible program purpose reinforces desired outcomes and strategic framework

  • Time Constraints—clear beginning and end to draw attention and keep the program fresh and relevant, with incentives for getting started.

  • Integration into the Job—relevant to and compatible with the pace and complexity of the job

  • Balance of Individual and Team Rewards—consider virtual teams and communities as well as geographical and subject matter teams

  • Compatibility with People—tailored to the values, interest, and styles of individuals (don't embarrass an introvert)

  • Equal Opportunity for Participation—include programs for different roles, work styles, and cultural differences

  • Recognition of Diversity of Skills—good generalists are as valuable as good specialists

  • Competition with Themselves—help people to measure and recognize their own achievements


Given these guidelines, most organizations develop programs to appeal to different motivational factors. Here are some motivation and reward examples:

  • Challenge—Set new records for lagging indicators

  • Attention—Dinner with Company CEO or Distinguished Engineer

  • Affirmation—Add meaningful job opportunities or new roles, like membership in the KCS program team or trips to industry conferences or events


One key to using rewards and recognition programs effectively is to view them as part of the communications plan (see below.) These programs are one way for leaders to draw attention to new practices and priorities.


Most KCS rewards and recognition programs should have an end date. If they continue too long, they send the signal that knowledge sharing and reuse are not part of the job, but something "above and beyond" to be specially rewarded. In fact, the opposite must happen—KCS practices must be integrated into all participants' job descriptions and formal job evaluation programs. At this point, the primary reward and recognition for doing KCS well is the same as it is for doing any other part of the job well: continued employment, good reviews, and career advancement.

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Near the end of this article is the statement to "see below" (which, by the way, is something that KCS suggests you should avoid). Perhaps "see below" should be replaced with a link to "Technique 6: Communication is the key"?
Posted 10:07, 22 Oct 2015
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18:21, 28 Oct 2013


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