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Valuing Employee Recognition

Providing the right kind of recognition for employees, at the right time

There is significant discourse in the country regarding the importance of employee performance. There is no doubt that it’s critical for the organization to reach its strategic goals. The question that is frequently raised is “How do we create an environment in which people will perform to their maximum potential?

One critical motivational method is employee recognition. Some supervisors, managers and leaders do not use this powerful method of motivation. When apprised of the importance of this fundamental principle of human behavior, they often insist that employees would only appreciate rewards and forms of recognition that directly translate to their pocketbook, e.g., cash, raises, bonuses, or promotions. While, no doubt, money is important, part of what motivates employees to perform, and to perform at high levels, is the thoughtful, personal kind of recognition that signifies true appreciation for a job that they have done well.

In order to do this effectively, here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Match the recognition to the person. People want different types of recognition, based on their personality, attitude, and behavioral style.
  • Match the recognition to the achievement. The recognition for a significant achievement that has far-reaching consequences must be equally strong and impactful. When there is not a match between the achievement and the recognition, the meaning is diminished and employees can even be de-motivated by the recognition.
  • Make the recognition specific and timely. If it’s vague, the recipient may get confused or not fully appreciate it. If it’s not timely, the recipient may not feel the full potential of the intended appreciation and it may lose its impact.

Recognition can be formal or informal and some research indicates that informal recognition can be the more personal and powerful of the two. Although often it is appropriate to utilize more formal types of recognition, such as documenting the achievement or recognizing the employee at a team meeting or company event, “on the spot” recognition can be extremely impactful. In The One Minute Manager, Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson describe how effective managers should “catch people doing something right” and give “one minute praisings”:

1.       Tell people up front that you are going to let them know how they are doing

2.       Praise people immediately

3.       Tell people what they did right – be specific

4.       Tell people how good you feel about what they did right, and how it helps the organization and the other people who work there

5.       Stop for a moment of silence to let them “feel” how good you feel

6.       Encourage them to do more of the same

7.       Shake hands or touch people in a way that makes it clear that you support their success in the organization

There is no debate that a highly motivated workforce is more likely to realize the strategic goals of the organization. And when this occurs, everybody wins! It’s worth stating that helping employees fulfill their potential is good business – but it’s also a moral responsibility. Remember that happy, motivated people are good performers. They will get to that place if they feel they are valued and appreciated. So, let’s consistently recognize our people in the right ways. The value and benefits are tangible!