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Recognition in The Real World
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5 Components for Recognition Training Plans

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Recogniton Plan Training

Standard 5 of RPI's Best Practices®, Recognition Training, is essential in creating a culture of appreciation. All employees, especially managers and leaders, need to understand the importance of meaningful recognition and how to give it. The organization's Recognition Training Plan should document how training is designed and administered for managers and employees at all levels, including the training objectives, methods, audience, frequency and measures. The following training plan components are crucial to the success of the recognition training plan.

  1. Identify Recognition Program related topics (how to use program and/or skill building)?

  2. Select target audience for each recognition topic?

  3. Choose training topic delivery methods appropriate for each audience?

  4. Determine frequency of training (one-time, on-going, periodic)?

  5. Measure how effective the training was applied on the job?


  1. A framework is used to analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate what training is needed. Recognition topics are included in general training such as safety, leadership, and job specific.
  2. Training includes targeted and specific audiences. All levels of employees receive recognition training and apply what they learn
  3. The plan includes a variety of delivery methods based on the geographic, cultural, and specific needs of the targeted audience.
  4. The plan spells out when training is offered.
  5. Reaction and application evaluation are checked to determine changes needed to make the training more effective. Results-

Read more about RPI's 7 Best Practice Standards® here: https:// best_practice

Tags:  employee recognition  employee recognition program  recognition training  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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5 Communication Plan Components

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 22, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Standard 4 of RPI's Best Practices® is the Recognition Program Communication Plan, which aids in the presentation of the organizations recognition program. The organization should establish and maintain a strategic communication plan that communicates all aspects of the recognition strategy, including program objectives, recognition processes, events, celebrations, tools, and a contact person. The following components can be used develop your organizations communication plan.

Does your recognition communication plan:

  1. Develop a message related to each of the Recognition Program components?

  2. Identify the audience for each of the messages?

  3. Designate the communication method for each message?

  4. Assign who is responsible for delivering the message and frequency of message?

  5. Include measures to determine how well the message was delivered and understood?


  1. Specific messages are developed to promote recognition activities.
  2. Target audiences are identified for each of the messages.
  3. Each target audience has a communication method(s) identified that is accessible for those persons.
  4. Leaders have specific messages assigned. Additional persons also are identified to deliver messages to specific target audiences.
  5. Part of the communication plan includes measurements to determine if the messages were delivered and if the messages were understood. Review of these measurements by the leadership determine what additional communication may be necessary and by what method and messenger.

Read more about RPI's 7 Best Practice Standards® here: https:// best_practice

Tags:  Communication strategy  Recognition Program Communication Plan  recognition strategy 

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Five Key Program Measurement Guidelines

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Standard 3 of RPI's 7 Best Practice Standards®, Program Measurement, evaluates the effectiveness of its formal and informal programs using measures that are statistically reliable and valid and substantive in nature. Ideally, the organization should have data that evaluates how well its programs are implemented and their impact on attitudes and productivity. Historical data that demonstrate effectiveness should be presented for a minimum period of at least one year. The following guidelines will help ensure effective program measurement standards.

Do you:

  1. Select measures for the Recogintion Program Objectives and frequency for collection?

  2. Establish a baseline assessment to determine the current state of the Recognition Program?

  3. Ensure there is a balance of quantitative and qualitative measures?

  4. Identify benchmarking sources from internal departments, external organizations and RPI Best Practice organizations?

  5. Use the measurements to determine the effectiveness of the recognition program?


  1. Each program objective has at least one measure with a plan on how to collect the data.
  2. Before beginning the recognition program, baseline assessments are taken to determine where the measurements begin.
  3. When selecting the measures for the objectives, it is important to ensure there is a balance of quantitative measures to provide objective data and qualitative measures to understand social issues.
  4. Develop types of data to be collected from benchmarking, where it will be collected and how/who will collect it. Strive to capture data that can be directly compared to your data.
  5. On a regular basis, the measurements are used as part of the program review. A summary report is prepared and presented both to leaders and employees.

Read more about RPI's 7 Best Practice Standards® here: https:// best_practice

Tags:  7 Best Practices  measurement  program measurement  recognition 

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Five Key Management Responsibilities for Recognition

Posted By Administration, Friday, August 9, 2019

Standard 2 of RPI's 7 Best Practice Standards®, Management Responsibility, discusses the active role senior leaders and management should have in their recognition programs. The following five behaviors can be used to reflect on management responsibilities in your recognition program.

Management Responsibilities

Senior leaders and management actively endorse and are held accountable for
planning, supporting, reviewing, and participating in the recognition program.

Do your leaders support employee recognition with the following behaviors:

  1. Define the overall recognition strategy (policies, procedures, and program objectives that reflect commitment to recognition?

  2. Support the recognition program by communicating support to all employees, and is personally involved in the program?

  3. Identify and provide adequate resources to manage and maintain the recognition program?

  4. Make recognition part of performance reviews and meeting agendas?

  5. Review the effectiveness of the recognition program?


  1. Senior leaders define the recognition behaviors needed to advance the organization’s goals. There is agreement to what policies, procedures, and objectives are needed to improve the behaviors.
  2. Senior leaders commit to deliver and reinforce any recognition messages, and personally actively support the recognition programs.
  3. Senior leaders provide a budget appropriate for the needed recognition activities. These resources include financial as well as non-financial.
  4. Senior leaders ensure the supporting recognition behaviors are incorporated into performance expectations. Recognition opportunities are consciously included into leadership and management agendas. All managers are held accountable for providing employees appreciation for their contributions.
  5. Senior leaders review measurements for recognition programs to determine how effective they are in promoting those needed behaviors. They make decisions as to the what happens to current programs and recommendations for needed changes.

Read more about RPI's 7 Best Practice Standards® here: https:// best_practice

Tags:  7 Best Practice Standards  Management responsibility  recognition strategy 

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5 Key Recognition Strategy Components

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 7, 2019

RPI's 7 Best Practice Standards® are designed to aid in the creation and evaluation of recognition programs in the public and private sectors, large and small organizations, and organizations with single or multiple locations or functions. Standard 1, The Recognition Strategy, provides purpose for how employee recognition encourages the organization’s goals and objectives. The following five components can be used to evaluate your organizations recognition strategy.

Recognition Strategy

The organization has a written recognition strategy that articulates the philosophy and objectives for all recognition practices, including day-to-day, informal, and formal recognition programs. The recognition strategy provides purpose and direction for how employee recognition encourages and rewards specific employee behaviors that advance the organization’s goals and objectives. All recognition activities are aligned with the mission and culture of the organization. Does your recognition strategy:

  1. Link to the organizational vision, mission, and values?

  2. Provide day-to-day, informal and formal recognition activities?

  3. Have documented procedures?

  4. Include specific and actionable objectives?

  5. Utilize continuous improvement through feedback and measurement?


  1. There is a formal, written recognition strategy that supports the organization’s strategic goals. Behaviors are identified with recognition program and practices and employees are rewarded for demonstrating those behaviors.
  2. The Recognition Program has day-to-day, informal and formal recognition activities. Actions are specific, timely and meaningful for all.
  3. Recognition related procedures (dimensions, nominations, award selections, taxes, event planning, budgeting, tracking, team, evaluation, etc.) are documented and available across the organization. These procedures are regularly reviewed and revised as needed.
  4. Leaders are involved in setting the recognition strategic objectives which are directly linked to the organization’s strategic goals. There is a regular review of the actions and the impact on the strategy.
  5. The Recognition Strategy includes how the effectiveness will be evaluated and in what timeframe. The Recognition Life Cycle is used to determine what action needs to be taken based on the feedback and measurement.

Read more about RPI's 7 Best Practice Standards® here: https:// best_practice

Tags:  organizational development  Recognition Strategy  RPI  RPI Best Practices 

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Recognizing Employees Everyday: 4 Tips for Maximizing Recognition

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Updated: Monday, June 3, 2019

Recognizing Employees Everyday: 4 Tips for Maximizing Recognition

When thinking about employee recognition, the first thing that comes to mind might be an extravagant event or a ‘years of service’ award. While annual and scheduled activities are both important formal ways to celebrate the contributions of employees, one that is equally as important is informal everyday recognition.

Before diving into everyday recognition, the question needs to be asked: why should organizations recognize employees in the first place? The answer is easy: everyday recognition is a great way to encourage employee engagement and show appreciation for their hard work without a large cost. Furthermore, author and industry expert Josh Bersin notes that “Organizations that give regular ‘thanks to their employees’ far outperform those that do not”. When it comes down to it, everyday recognition seems like a simple way to support employees, while simultaneously benefiting the organization.

And it is. Everyday (or day-to-day) recognition is simple. It doesn’t have to be fancy; it is cheap, and it encourages everyone in the organization to participate. And most importantly, everyday recognition is sustainable because it makes it easy for managers and employees to keep the recognition program ongoing.

Based on RPI’s Seven Best Practice Standards, successful recognition programs are balanced -- they incorporate day-to-day, informal, and formal recognition. Want to make your employee recognition program a success? Here are four effective and meaningful ways to recognize employees everyday:

  1. Verbal
  2. It seems obvious, but verbal recognition is one of the easiest and most meaningful ways to incorporate recognition every single day. Even a simple and specific “thank you” in the moment is powerful and can make someone’s day.

  3. Emails and notes
  4. Even the busiest workers can make time to recognize employees. Emails and notes are another simple, quick, and meaningful way to recognize individuals, even if you work remotely or are on the go.

  5. Encourage peer to peer recognition
  6. Managers aren’t the only people who can provide recognition. Letting everyone participate not only fosters relationships between coworkers, but also creates a positive work environment.

  7. Calls, instant messaging, and social media
  8. Most people have access to a mobile or work phone throughout the day, making it easy to give recognition via instant messaging or on the organization’s intranet and open social media channels. While it may not be the most popular option, never underestimate the power of even a brief phone call.

When it comes to recognition, the payoff is not something tangible. It is in the act itself. Maximize your time, money, and employee potential by incorporating everyday recognition into your organization’s program.

Recognition strategy is just one of RPI’s Seven Best Practice Standards. Learn about the other standards here.

Want to go deeper? Check out Recognition Fundamentals to expand your knowledge, excel in your job and maximize your recognition program.

Tags:  7 Best Practice Standards  Recognition  Recognition Strategy 

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Why it’s important to recognize employees and how you can plan the perfect celebration

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Updated: Monday, June 3, 2019

Why it’s important to recognize employees and how you can plan the perfect celebration

Engaged employees are an important asset to companies today and it’s no secret why.

According to The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition by Achievers and RPI’s CRP program, “Engaged employees perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave their organization”. It doesn’t stop there though. Higher rates of engagement among employees also correlate to a more profitable and productive company.

So, what is the best way to drive employee engagement?

Recognition. The study Employee Performance: What Causes Great Work found that “94% of respondents who were exposed to an excellent recognition practice perceived it to be ‘very effective’ at causing them to produce great work”.  Especially with this statistic, there is no reason to not give employees the recognition they want and deserve.

Based on RPI’s Seven Best Practice Standards, the most successful programs are balanced and provide a combination of day-to-day, informal, and formal recognition. While day-to-day and informal are more spur-of-the-moment and less structured, formal recognition requires extensive planning and can be overwhelming.

It doesn’t have to be though. Virginia-based technology company and RPI Best Practice Overall award-winner BAE Systems has proved just how stress-free formal recognition can be. Illustrated through BAE Systems, here are five tips to help you plan the perfect celebratory formal event to recognize employees:

1.     Pick a date and make sure it’s timely

One of the necessary first steps to take in planning a celebration to recognize employees is to set a date for the event. Do this well in advance to allow enough time to plan it. Make sure that it does not conflict with religious, work, or school holidays, and that the employee is being recognized at an appropriate time. BAE Systems celebrates service anniversaries and birthdays as part of their recognition strategy, ensuring the events are held in a timely manner.

2.     Create an event plan

The plan should include everything related to the event such as the goals, branding, sponsorship, and venue logistics. Having a master plan will help organize the planning process and will ensure a smooth celebration.

3.     Have an events team

Planning an event takes a lot of time and effort. Having a team dedicated to organizing the event, details, and logistics can help make sure it is a success.

4.     Give the award to reinforce beneficial behaviors

Successful employee recognition programs reflect the values of the company. Employees who are recognized should behave in a matter that upholds these values, acting as a model for others. When recognizing employees, BAE Systems uses their core values as a guide and honors those who are:

a.     Trusted to deliver on commitments

b.     Innovative in finding and turning ideas and technologies into solutions

c.      Bold in accepting new challenges and managing risks

5.     Make the event specific to the individual

If an employee is being recognized, others should know why. Explain the importance of their work or behavior, and do so in a way that is meaningful. To go the extra mile, include the employee’s family by inviting them to the celebration. BAE Systems does this by offering multiple awards that recognize employees’ individual achievements and contributions to projects and programs.

Employees value recognition, no matter the size of the gesture. It’s important to incorporate formal recognition and events, but don’t let event planning get the best of you. With these tips, you’re on the way to creating the perfect moment that they will cherish forever.

Learn more about BAE Systems and their award-winning recognition strategy.

Event planning and celebrations are only one of RPI’s Seven Best Practice Standards. Learn about the others here.

Want to learn more about employee recognition? Checkout RPI’s Certified Recognition Professional® (CRP)/Recognition program to expand your knowledge, excel in your job and maximize your recognition program.

Tags:  Employee Engagement  Formal Recognition  Recognition Strategy  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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Reporter on the Scene: Demonstrating and Elevating the ROI of Recognition Programs

Posted By Rebecca Wegscheid, Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2019

Reporter on the Scene: Demonstrating and Elevating the ROI of Recognition Programs

At the 2019 RPI Annual Conference Dr. Charles Scherbaum shared something that many recognition professionals experience; most organizations invest considerable resources into employee recognition programs, but a vast majority underutilize their recognition programs as a strategic tool that can help elevate their performance. Throughout his presentation “Demonstrating and Elevating the ROI of Recognition Programs”, Dr. Scherbaum discussed how recognition analytics can be used to link employee recognition program data to key business outcomes like employee engagement, customer experience, or sales to formulate return on investment (ROI). Applying recognition analytics to an employee recognition program can help organizations clearly understand how the ROI can be enhanced by developing managers and employees to be more effective at recognition. 

Key Session Takeaways

Effective managers create effective programs. Mangers are the key to making recognition programs work. By training managers individually on their needs and weaknesses they create better appreciation at work, better customer loyaty and better performance. ROI can be established when effectiveness is tied to employee, customers and business ourcomes.

Putting it into Practice/Aha-Moments

Since managers are the key to making a recognition program work, the focus needs to be on training managers on an individual basis on how to produce better experiences for recipients. Measuring the ROI of your program will then come next. Based off the information from Dr. Scherbaum, you can do this by utilizing the perspective of the recipient, not the manager. Using this frame, you will be able to measure recognition ROI by frequency, velocity, reach, authenticity over time.


Reporter on the Scene

Donna Mitsos

Innovation Meetings


Tags:  recognition  recognition strategy  ROI on recognition strategy  RPI conference 

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25 Creative Low-Cost or No -Cost Ways to Appreciate your Employees (…and Sometimes Yourself!)

Posted By Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame, Tuesday, April 23, 2019

“People get just as excited about receiving a compliment as they do at the prospect of getting money!” ~ Journal Neuron

As you are thinking about applying some of these ideas in your own organization, first think about the people who have made a difference in your own life. List five teachers or mentors who believed in you and encouraged you, five friends or co-workers who have helped you through a difficult time, five people who have taught you something worthwhile, and five people who have made you feel appreciated and special. If YOU want to be remembered for making a difference in someone else’s life, make them feel appreciated. Remember, appreciation is a FREE gift!

  1. When you are forced to sit somewhere for a period of time (commuting, waiting for an appointment, even watching something boring on TV), get in the habit of writing short “thank you” notes. . Carry them in your purse or briefcase so they are easily accessible. Mention two or three specific things that make you glad that person is in your life.
  2. Draw an outline of your hand. Put it on the wall of your office, and when you’ve done something great that no one has noticed, walk back and give yourself a little “pat on the back!”
  3. Call someone’s parent, spouse or significant other at home to thank them for the good work that employee is doing.
  4. Go to the store and look at all the candy names: Skor, Extra, $100,000 Bar, Snickers, Payday, Lifesavers. Plan little surprises with notes tying into that theme to surprise and thank employees.
  5. Ask each of your direct reports or colleagues to list the letters of the alphabet and think of something they are thankful for that begins with each letter.
  6. Give an employee the day off to work with his or her favorite charity. Ask them to take pictures and write about it for the company newsletter.
  7. Give an employee a gift related to their favorite hobby or passion with a personal note. (First, you have to FIND OUT what their hobbies and passions are, however. That, in itself, is a form of recognition!)
  8. Take an employee someplace that would personally delight them – attend a baseball game, go for a walk together, go shopping, attend a class together, take time to discuss a good book, attend an event to see one of their children perform.
  9. Commit to finding someone doing something right each day and thank them for that on the spot.
  10. Send a positive, encouraging voice mail to someone and then send one to YOURSELF!
  11. Have an “Appreciation Board” posted in your breakroom where employees can publicly thank others who have gone the extra mile for them.
  12. Make a “Thanksgiving Tree” and keep it in your lobby all year long. Ask people to write things they are thankful for and hang them on the tree.
  13. As a special thank you to the whole team or company, host a half day event where employees pick an expert to come in and teach them a new life skill (photography, cooking, decorating, golf lessons).
  14. Learn the American Sign Language sign for “thank you” and teach everyone in your department to use it when things are hectic.
  15. Send a gift to the employee’s family to thank them for sharing that person, especially when an employee has been working hard on a project – a restaurant gift certificate with a letter, flowers, or movie tickets for the whole family.
  16. Put 5 pennies in your right hand pocket in the morning. Every time you thank someone, move a penny to your left hand pocket and do not go home until all 5 are all on the left side.
  17. Prepare a home-cooked meal for your employees. If possible, invite them to your home.
  18. Sponsor a Family Day at work so that family members can share in the mission of the company where their mother or father works. As a special perk, give them a logo gift of some kind.
  19. Place five silver dollars in your pocket each week and pass them out to someone who is doing a great job during the week.
  20. Give an employee the gift of time – permission to come in an extra hour later or leave an extra hour early or take an extra hour at lunchtime.
  21. Have everyone on your team create an AIG folder (Ain’t I Great!) and ask each person to fill it with things that encourage them or bring them joy.
  22. For one year, name a hallway, favorite dish in the cafeteria, or special room after an employee. Post their picture with the nameplate.
  23. Have your team brainstorm creative ways they would like to be recognized or appreciated.
  24. Invite an employee to lunch and ask him or her to share some ideas with you that could make a difference in your workplace. Be sure to take good notes and acknowledge any ideas that you implement.
  25. Think of practical needs your employees may have. For example, invite a laundry service to come in once a week to pick up clothes or provide a caterer who will prepare meals to be picked up as the employees leave for the evening.
  26. Place a large poster page next to everyone’s office or cubicle door for a week. Ask other employees during the week to stop by and write something they appreciate about that person.
  27. Keep a “crazy gift” closet (the Dollar Store is a great place to get them), and when employees have done something exceptional or are just having a bad day, let them choose something fun from the closet.

REMEMBER: It does not have to be something big and the more fun and surprising it is, the better. As Mark Twain said, “I can go two months on one good compliment!”

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RPI Member Dollar General Awarded Training Magazine’s Top 125 Training Organizations

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Congratulations to RPI Board member Kimberly Huffman, Dollar General for being recognized on the elite Training Magazine’s Top 125 Training Organizations. Standard 5 of RPI’s 7 RPI Best Practice Standards® is Recognition Training and is often cited as one of the more challenging organizational activities. Below is the Dollar General’s case study:

RPI Member Dollar General Awarded Training Magazine’s Top 125 Training Organizations – Training is Standard 5 in the RPI Best Practices® model

By Lorri Freifeld

Since its inception 80 years ago, the No. X company on the 2019 Training Top 125 list has continually been guided by its founding principle to serve others. In that spirit, Tennessee-based Dollar General Corporation continues to support more than 135,000 employees reach new career heights thanks to best-in-class training, career guidance and additional resources to support employees’ career development.  The Company’s continued achievement of training and development goals also landed the discount retailer on the Training list for the eighth consecutive year.

In 2018, Dollar General looked to add approximately 900 new stores to its store footprint and create approximately 7,000 net new career opportunities while remaining focused on one of its operating priorities of investing in its people as a competitive advantage. 

Armed with new employee feedback and an exceptional store manager training program, the Company’s training and development teams entered 2018 prepared to deliver another strong year of programming to meet the needs of Dollar General’s growing business.

“This year, our strategy remained focused on talent selection and employee development through great onboarding, training and open communication,” said Bob Ravener, Dollar General’s executive vice president and chief people officer. “Our team influences every level of the company with a practical and innovative approach to training. As a result, we deliver approximately 1.7 million training hours each year to our employees, and we help them further develop their talents and hone specific skills and experiences to grow their careers to new heights of success.” 

Putting Customers First

At Dollar General, employees are squarely focused on enhancing customers’ in-store experiences, which means their top priority is to keep the customer at the center of all they do. 

In that spirit, Dollar General’s training and development teams developed a year-long training program to support the Company’s DG Customer First initiative, which aims to enhance the customer experience by encouraging Dollar General employees to be highly engaged and empowering them with the knowledge they need to offer the Company’s customers best-in-class service. 

Developed from a cross-functional, comprehensive review of customer feedback surveys that analyzed market data and examined interactions between employees and customers, the Customer First training program was implemented in two phases.

First, participants completed a three-hour learning map activity in groups of six to eight to maximize small-group dynamics. Additionally, the first phase of training combined employees ranging from vice presidents and district managers to human resource directors to foster a positive exchange of ideas and perspectives to best support the training’s real-life applicability.  The first phase outlined three main takeaways for Dollar General employees including:

  • How to attract and retain leaders
  • How to create life-long Dollar General customers
  • How to remove barriers that might preclude their abilities to deliver the highest levels of customer service 

The second phase of the Customer First training was implemented at the Company’s annual leadership meeting. During this phase, Dollar General moderated a four-hour simulation activity aimed at putting learnings from the first phase into action.  Approximately 1,500 leaders engaged in a self-discovery journey designed to reinforce why the customer experience is increasingly important and the impact of their decisions to customers.

“Participants complete this training with the clarity and understanding that everyone at Dollar General is a champion for our customers and employees,” says Lori Bremer, Dollar General’s senior director of training and development. “Dollar General makes putting customers first a point of differentiation, and robust training focused on enhancing that sentiment is measured, studied and improved through our customer satisfaction surveys.”

In addition to the two-part Customer First training module, the training and development teams provided ongoing training, which included activities from the learning management system (LMS) focused on a different goal each quarter.  They also provided activities that cascaded this content to the Company’s more than 15,000 store teams, allowing them to also further focus on improving overall customer satisfaction. Finally, field management teams received a workbook to track store manager engagement, overall customer satisfaction and their progress toward meeting store standard goals.

“Our field teams reinforced their knowledge and engagement of the two-day training by teaching the content to their store teams,” Bremer said.  “Through the implementation of this training, the training and development team was thrilled to receive stories of recognition and excitement from our store team colleagues as the content resonated with both our employees and customers. We highlighted some of these success stories, and they served as motivation to keep the momentum of the program going strong.

Success of the Customer First program resonated with customers, which was reflected through a 15 percent increase in employee engagement and increased store standard metrics.  Additionally, results from customer satisfaction surveys increased with overall scores at their highest levels in the Company’s history.

Redesigned Store Manager Training

Understanding the pivotal role that store managers play within Dollar General’s corporate strategy, the team further enhanced the Company’s Store Manager Training (SMT) program in 2018.  Building upon the successes of its current store manager training program, which was created in partnership with Dollar General’s executive vice president of store operations, the team augmented its 12-month regimen to further engage leaders and address skills gaps. 

The result was a completely-redesigned onboarding program that included an initiative to evaluate, select and certify approximately 1,100 top-performing store managers to become Certified Store Training Managers (CSTMs).  These talented and motivated leaders completed a series of train-the-trainer modules to better prepare them for their elevated roles. The new program yielded 53 percent more leader-led training hours than the previous program and helped improve employee engagement and retention.

“Through a comprehensive review of our training programs, we identified additional training opportunities within the store manager population,” said Bremer.  “With more than 10,000 current store managers promoted from within, we wanted to supplement initial in-role training to best prepare them for success in their newly-elevated and more prominent roles.  Additionally, as we plan to add almost three new stores each day through the planned addition of approximately 975 new stores in our 2019 fiscal year, we want to ensure our employees integrate best-in-class training to help fuel our success.”

Bremer says innovation is also evident in the training design.

“SMT delivers interactive learning throughout the store manager’s first year with gradually deepening knowledge and skills, regular reinforcement and short, highly realistic modular courses to engage and equip them to strategically lead stores, drive sales and serve our customers.”

The 12-month program is designed in a way to teach foundational learnings and invoke thought leadership from training store managers that will help support their elevated roles.

Within the first eight weeks of the program, participants complete computer-based modules that allow practice in a simulated virtual store environment. The complementary learning activities in a top-performing store with a CSTM helps guide the new store manager to put new learnings into action within their own store.  Throughout the training, the CSTM also helps verify the new store manager’s learning while simultaneously holding weekly check-ins supported by regular training visits to build a strong working relationship and promote greater engagement.

Three months into the program, store managers attend Retail Excellence Every Day (REED), a three-day, instructor-led classroom session to explore leadership skills and discuss on-the-job experiences to further create a coaching mindset to optimize store performance.

Action planning occurs at two key milestones to help new store managers achieve and maintain operational excellence. Plans are built around goals that each store manager creates based on their individual store metrics and are executed in partnership with their district manager.

Continued learning and reinforcement are key for the remaining eight months of the program.  Participants complete bi-monthly, computer-based modules, which range in topics from succession planning to building customer relationships, all of which are aimed to further develop and prepare the new store manager for continued success.

Dollar General’s store manager training program continues to support business objectives as store manager turnover trends toward its all-time, best on record and time-to-fill positions are at an all-time best.  The program is also contributing to cost savings derived from store manager retention, reduced hiring costs and gained productivity.

In addition to business wins, the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) evaluated and recommended nine semester hours of college credit for the company’s store manager training.

“As an industry innovator, Dollar General is the first among its competitors to offer this benefit,” Bremer says. “Through this program, we are further supporting our store managers’ abilities to be great leaders while simultaneously enhancing their lives as they achieve both education and career goals.”

Heeding the DG Voice

In an effort to further Dollar General’s culture and employee-centric focus, the Company led a broad initiative to define, implement and measure the impact of an innovative employee feedback loop called DG Voice.

Initiated in 2017, DG Voice seeks to get a stronger understanding of the organization by continuing to communicate directly with employees.  Championed by executive leadership from across the organization, the survey results have helped provide real-time feedback to quickly identify and address engagement opportunities within the organization.  The DG Voice also provides actionable insights to positively impact meaningful change through companywide action planning alongside localized results.

“Since DG Voice is comprehensive, responses to employee input are as well,” Bremer stresses. “For example, we have incorporated survey feedback into all training and development programs focused on areas that our employees told us matter to them the most.”

The team implemented the following examples following feedback from DG Voice:

  • Growth and Development: A new core curriculum, which features on-demand, experiential and instructor-led learning captured through correlations and branching items. Within three months, 40 percent of employees either engaged in this content or participated in enhanced training.  For example, Dollar General piloted a fully-funded Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training to support the Company’s growing private fleet and an enhanced tuition program providing substantial savings to its entire workforce and their families.
  • Leadership Effectiveness: The creation of a new, formal cross-functional mentorship program was tailored to participants with content aimed at identifying core strengths and opportunities in a four-hour simulation; results were shared with both an external coach and their DG mentor.  Mentees ranging from assistant managers to executives take advantage of flexible, learning and customized leadership journeys. Connecting top leaders cross-functionally helps drive operational strength and instill a culture of inclusion.
  • Employee Experience: One example of Dollar General’s relentless focus on encouraging learning is embracing new technologies from leading-edge learning apps and virtual leadership programs to virtual classrooms and gamification.  Data collected from the DG Voice indicated this new, technology-based approach contributed to employees feeling more engaged.

“This program is far-reaching as it cultivates a continuous improvement mindset to deliver an employee experience that embodies our mission of Serving Others,” Bremer says. “Through learnings generated from DG Voice, we are able to proactively deploy communication and actions to best engage our employees.”

Looking Ahead

With continued desires to further enhance training through technology and support the business with frictionless customer experiences, Ravener looks for 2019 to contain more micro-learning and on-the-job experiential learning.

Through an increasingly robust virtual learning program for high-potential district managers and executive outreach with best leadership practices, the training program will also allow for digital journaling and open discussion commentary with other program participants.

“As we look to the future, we will strategically focus on attracting the best talent by leveraging technology to fuel the Company’s growth needs and providing an outstanding employee experience emphasizing digital connectivity,” Ravener says. “Furthermore, we will continually strive to deliver the right development tools to meet employees’ individual needs, build a deeper bench of talent complemented with the ability to receive ongoing feedback.  This will help ensure an ever-improving culture of Serving Others while meeting the needs of both our customers and growing workforce.”  

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