Making Recognition Work for You: Part 1

In this post we’ll start with the business case – the “why” – for recognition.

At the end of a recent leadership development program in Denver, Colorado, my head was down as I was packing up my laptop and materials. As I looked up, one of the workshop participants was approaching. He was one of the mid-level leaders in the organization. Strong, persuasive, and confident. He asked, “Sal, why do I have to give people recognition for doing their job?”

That’s a great question. And, it something many new and tenured managers often wrestle with.

My response was that recognition alone isn’t enough. But when you do all of the foundational things that leaders are supposed to do – like establishing performance expectations, providing performance feedback, creating an environment of open communication and trust, and working with people at an individual level – then recognition becomes THE element that will build the engagement and commitment you need from your people that nothing else will.

A similar concept is supported by Gostick and Elton in their book The Carrot Principle. In the HealthStream Research study of 200,000 people that they used as a basis for their book, they confirmed that when the Basic Four are in place – Goal Setting, Communication, Trust, and Accountability – recognition becomes an accelerator and management effectiveness in each characteristic soars.

According to How Full is Your Bucket, the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. In fact, they say that 65% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace last year. And, even worse, that bad bosses could increase the risk of stroke by 33%.

Recognition is important, and leaders should know that it can be a powerful tool in motivating and retaining your best people, increasing productivity, enhancing customer loyalty, and improving safety recocords.

The bottom line is that people want to feel like and know that there contributions matter. When people know their contributions matter, they feel part of the organization; they feel like they are working toward common goals; they become commited.

On the other hand, when people don’t feel like their contributions matter – and this typically happens when their contributions go unnoticed – they become compliant. They do what they have to do to get by – and that’s it.

What type of team, organization, or culture do you want to build? One that is full of team members who
are committed? Or one with team members who are compliant?

Recognition matters.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we’ll debunk some of the myths around recognition.

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