One of the leading providers of test-measurement and monitoring instrumentation, Tektronix Inc., headquartered in Beaverton, Ore., once had disjointed recognition programs that were aimed at various subgoals of the organization, such as cost-savings and customer satisfaction. In an effort to unify its recognition efforts, the company last year created a single program, called TekValues, that is based on six core values: Customers, Innovation, Accountability, Integrity, Profitability, and People.

The TekValues program was developed to support this culture by recognizing employees who embody the organization's values — which is especially important because the company has 4,500 employees in 19 countries, many of whom often work on cross-functional teams that never get together in person. Management takes the nomination process seriously, as evidenced by the average time from nomination to approval: a mere 1.8 days.

“We created the TekValues program as a way to globally recognize and reward employees for living our company values,” says Sue Kirby, vice president of human resources. “This program empowers all employees to recognize individual contributions that directly impact business goals.”

How It Works

TekValues is administered via a customized Web-based tool. All employees can use it as a way to recognize peers and managers. Recognition is encouraged at a variety of levels, from a simple, electronic thank-you card, which 35 percent of employees received in the program's first year; to awards that scale according to the size and impact of an employee's contribution to the company.

The basic award, the Bronze Level, has a $25 value. It can be given by the lowest-level manager and is intended for individuals or teams who demonstrate their values in ways that stand out from the ordinary. The highest award, the Platinum Level, has a $1,000 value, and is awarded for significant achievements that contribute to the company's profitable growth. Platinum Level awards require approval by a vice president.

Fifty percent of Tektronix employees received recognition at one or more of these levels in the program's first year. All awards are redeemed via an online catalog that uses three categories of rewards: 1) gift certificates, such as Hilton or; 2) merchandise, such as jewelry, household goods, or camping equipment; and 3) experiences, such as concerts or cooking classes.

It is simple for the average peer or manager to recognize another employee, even across country boundaries. In fact, in a recent year more than 100 nominations originating in one country and recognizing an employee in another country were approved. Different online catalogs have been created for different parts of the world to accommodate local preferences: America, Asia, and Europe.

Bob Nelson, PhD, is president of Nelson Motivation Inc.; a frequent presenter to management teams and conferences; and a best-selling author of several books, including 1001 Ways to Reward Employees and The Management Bible.

Six more ways to win

In addition to TekValues, Tektronix has several other formal recognition programs. Award winners are profiled in the company's internal e-newsletter, which is posted on the Intranet. Among the programs:

Business Excellence Award

This award provides incentives and recognition for employees who make a significant contribution to business excellence in areas such as working capital, displaying leadership, and customer focus.

Tektronix Technical Excellence Award

Employees who demonstrate excellence in one area of the company's fundamentals of success — teamwork, strategy, execution, velocity, and people — are eligible for this award.

Howard Vollum Award

Individuals who serve as role models in engineering excellence can be nominated for this award, which is named after a Tektronix founder.

Masters Program

This annual sales recognition program rewards the top 10 percent of the worldwide sales force.

Tektronix Fellows

The title of fellow is bestowed upon an elite group of leaders who possess a balance of technical and business skills.

Team Contribution Award

Any team can be rewarded for showing initiative, commitment, and exceptional responsibility.