Merit Badge Recognition

June 28, 2021

My perspective about recognition has two dimensions.  The first is to mark an achievement, milestones or culture events. The second is for the physical symbol or award to have artistic originality. In other words, to have meaning beyond the intrinsic cost.

One of my favorite recognition program concepts is the idea of honoring success that happens in phases or calendar milestones.  In the case of Phases: meaning stages of mission success or major initiatives, i.e., your “moonshot”. Then for Milestones: employee service anniversaries in five-year increments or quarterly or annual recognition for corporate sales, quality or safety metrics.

In these programs I like the use of pins, coins or medallions. They allow artistry that engages the hearts of all recipients. It’s hard to see from the photo above but this safety medallion shows the industrial worker walking up the front steps at home holding the hands of his two children, after a safe day at work.

The Merit Badge idea originates from the scouting sash that holds badges for each earned achievement.  For corporate recognition consider these dual highlights that we can clone from scouting.

1. Setting Expectations: upon initial presentation of the pin, coin or medallion you also present with the wooden or stone “sash” base. Suppose coin #1 is for safety, for example, driving half-a-million miles without an accident.  Now consider that there are 4 to 5 more open divots on the base. The physical symbolism of those divots is a visual reminder that leadership has an expectation that employees will continue to be successful.  The simple act of investing in the future success of employees will likely be fulfilled.

2. Display: the honored recipient now is reminded daily of their achievements on their mantle, bookcase or dresser at home. The artistry has meaning, plus the expectation of future success expresses confidence about the future of the company and employee. The coin is not buried in a sock drawer or stored unseen in a jewelry box. 

Recognition success hinges on these two dimensions: marking achievements and giving the “badge” constant visibility.