Making Recognition Work for You: Part 2

April 28, 2011 -- Sal Silvester

The Manager who approached me in Part 1 of this series had used his original question of 'Sal, why do I have to give people recognition for doing their job?' to set me up.

He was persistent and continued, "I don't give people recognition for just doing their jobs. That's what they get paid for."

The conversation went on, and he justified his position of not giving people recognition by saying that he had high standards. Hmmm. High standards, I thought. What does that have to do with it?

But, this example isn't the only myth I've encountered in my leadership development programs as to why people don't recognize their team members. There are others. Let's address a few common ones.

Myth: Recognition creates an environment of entitlement. People just expect to be recognized.

Response: When done correctly, recognition encourages people to act in alignment with organizational values. It creates a culture of commitment, not entitlement.

Myth: Giving team members a lot of recognition and praise encourages them to expect large increases in compensation.
Response: Assuming team members are receiving a fair wage for their work, providing recognition encourages team members to keep doing what they are being recognized for. That's why it's key to align recognition with business objectives and values.

Myth: If I recognize my people, it will cause jealousy among other team members.
Response: A more likely outcome is that if recognition is done correctly, other team members will also want to perform to the same high standards.

Myth: When I give too much recognition, it loses its meaning.
Response: It depends. If your recognition methods consist of of ice cream socials and group emails, yes you are right. But when personalized and tied to values and goals, recognition will remain meaningful and impactful.

Myth: Effective recognition means that I need to be consistent and recognize all of my employees in the same way.
Response: No. Like everything else effective leaders do, recognition needs to be tailored to the individual. It's important to understand an individual team member's preferences, priorities, and motivations and then link those to your recognition efforts.

There are more myths, reasons, and stories for not recognizing people.

What are yours?

From a purely anecdotal standpoint, after having consulted with hundreds of companies over the past 15+ years, I've never seen survey results of an organization with high customer satisfaction scores AND low employee engagement scores. And, I've never met a leader who people respected that didn't work hard to create a culture of recognition.

Recognition matters.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series and we'll explore the framework of a recognition culture.

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