In the New Rules of the Social Age, Employee Recognition is a Dinosaur.


For those HRD’s, business leaders and managers who have not heard of Ted Coiné. Ted is a Forbes Top 10 influencer and heads up the leadership community blog Switch and Shift.

A recent guest post by Ted caught my eye, and for a company like Workstars, The New Rules of The Social Age sang like a bird.

This is what he says, and why employee recognition practice is increasingly looking like a dinosaur.

In the Social Age. Transparency rules.

“Peel back this grossly-overused buzzword and explore what transparency really means to you and your company. It means there’s no hiding – lies are either ignored or plastered all over the Internet. Companies that are led ethically have a huge advantage”

We are talking behaviours, and value led leadership. The same company values that are currently stuck on the last page of most corporate websites. In the world of company values, lies are what you say you do, the truth is what you actually do. In the social age, prospective customers and employees, not just your current ones, are starting to look for, and listen to, what you do.

Employee Recognition is a Dinosaur?

Employee recognition is the one area of a business that is 100% dedicated to the positive. It should be easy to be transparent and tell authentic stories about what you do well. Even the most antiquated business can have no qualms about being transparent, and asking employees to celebrate the values, behaviours and relationships that make your company special. How can you not want to be transparent? What do we get? More trophies, pin badges, service awards, competitions and manager only activity? These are all controlled mechanics and have little to do with the recognition and visibility of what you do.

In the Social Age. Empowerment isn’t an option.

“The trick to employee empowerment is who is doing the empowering. Too often leaders talk about giving more power to employees. In the Social Age, employees are empowering themselves. Wise leaders delight in this, and facilitate it.”

Empowerment gives those wise managers the opportunity to sit in the back seat and enjoy the ride, maybe they just help out with the directions now and again. Ideas, emotions, and intuition, are all in the mix in the social age, along with manager and colleague relationships. Our feelings and thoughts matter to us. We see good managers as communicators, mentors or coaches, not as motivators always banging the drum. Empowered and engaged employees play their own music, the best managers add great harmonies.

Employee Recognition is a Dinosaur?

What is the employee recognition industry doing to tap into employee empowerment? The answer is peer to peer recognition. Which is a big move in the right direction, until you find out that most reward vendors software requires a manager to check what you have written and decide whether to assign a reward, not my idea of embracing empowerment and once again reward forces its way into the process far to early.

More importantly it puts a great big road block up for employees. The wise leaders don’t want this, they are trying to create uninterrupted pathways. It is time to accept that recognising great work and expressing gratitude are human traits, and recognition is an employee expression, not a manager transaction. Once you accept recognition is a matter of perspective, you can begin to explore the possibilities.

In the Social Age. It’s all about trust.

“Like empowerment, most leaders get this exactly wrong. The trust imperative isn’t about getting others to trust you as a leader: it’s all about trusting your people to show up at work like the mature, responsible adults you hired them to be. This means backing off the stifling metrics Industrial Age management used to make sure no one was stepping out of line. In the Social Age, there is no line to step out of.”

The social age has accelerated the trust conversation more than any other, transparency and empowerment are both areas that will give forward thinking businesses an edge, possibly a big edge when it comes to attracting and engaging employees. However, neither can happen without trusting employees.

Social Recognition, we all know what happens to Dinosaurs.

Employee recognition had not embraced trust until it became social, managers, and reward dominated. The beauty of social recognition, is that it supports those wise managers in helping employees find their own motivational strengths and opportunities, while maintaining their own. Social Recognition simply pushes reward down the line, and lets all your employees in at the start.

Thanks Ted.


Jason Harney

Founder, also Director of Product and Marketing at Workstars. Jason has been instrumental in progressing social recognition software to the forefront of HR, against a backdrop of the traditional reward industry. As HR strategy begins to shift and innovate to meet the people and social challenges of the day. Trust, culture, values and engagement, matter more than ever. This is where Jason spends his time.