A reader from Australia e-mailed me:

“to seek your professional opinion on the current situation I am facing as the Reward & Recognition strategy leader for a large organisation and its customer contact call centres.

My question to you is, is it best to slowly eliminate ineffective parts of an R & R program or just start totally from scratch with a brand new concept? We obviously would like a strategy with the least impact on our people and their high expectation (developed over the years) that rewards are for ‘everyone,’ regardless of performance levels.

My proposed strategy is to re-educate our people first on what R & R is all about, and then go out with a brand new program. What are your thoughts on this?”

Here’s my response:

You’re asking me to give you a prescription without a thorough diagnosis. That’s a dangerous thing to do. I can only give you a generalized answer to your specific situation.

One of the two main factors in deciding whether to completely re-engineer any process or program versus incremental improvement is just how badly broken your existing Rewards and Recognition process really is. If it’s creating a huge amount of distraction and really getting in the way, it probably needs to be started from scratch. But don’t allow a few managers or support professionals to make that determination. Ask a good strong cross-section of the people in your call centers.

Another key consideration is how strongly the operational managers and their senior management owns and uses whatever new system you create. A deadly situation is to boldly declare to the call centre people that you have a new Reward and Recognition program and then have the organization’s key managers treat it as a “bolt-on” program rather than a process built-in to the way they manage the organization.