Try This- Recognition

Shawnee Love   •   February 7, 2020

I have been at this a long time, and I have still never heard anyone say their boss recognizes them too much.

Yet, people are more likely to do the things you want them to do, if they know:

  1. What you want them to do,
  2. You are pleased with them for doing it, and
  3. They are doing it well.

What you want them to do is pretty basic.  If you aren’t already telling people at hire what their job is and keeping them updated on what their goals and expectations are, start here. You may be amazed how much their performance improves when they know what they are supposed to do.

That you are pleased with them for doing their job and they are doing it well should be obvious to your employees if you are interacting with them regularly, but that isn’t always the case.  Let me share a personal example.

Just recently I had someone I work with come to me and say they were worried I wasn’t happy with them and their work.

For context, I have been pretty busy lately because I am up to my eyeballs in some professional development, and at the same time working through some fun and exciting projects which completely occupy my time during the work day. Add to that the fact that I have a family who needs food and attention, and a dog to walk, and I haven’t been very social at work. In fact, I have been on phone calls, onsite at clients or in closed door meetings for most of the last four weeks.  When I come into the office, I am usually on my cell dealing with a fire, and when I leave, I am usually running late with no time for chit chat.

To add insult to injury, when I am so swamped and am asked to review something urgent for an employee, I address only that which needs my input and not the great content which is already done. But this focus translates into the employee’s only interactions with me being about where improvement is required and not:

  • How grateful I am that I can entrust so much into their capable hands and
  • I only needed to make small tweaks or improvements.

I am not excusing my behaviour, just pointing out how it happens that you can become so busy you forget how your behaviour may be viewed from an employee’s perspective.

If you see yourself in this example, it may be time to recognize your team members.

To do recognition well, here are a few tips:

1. Recognition is most effective if it’s genuine and specific so meeting individually to say thank you for the good work is a good approach.  In this conversation, you might say something like:

“I am really happy with your work on [activity, project, etc.) because your [give example of behaviour or conduct] resulted in [positive outcome or impact]. Thank you!”

An actual example might sound like:

“I am really happy with your work on the till because your careful entering of product information has resulted in accurate inventory counts in your department this month. That is a huge time saver and has caused us to have our best month on record for revenue.  Thank you!”

2. Providing information on the impact and outcomes of the work done and efforts made is what makes recognition meaningful for people and will cause them to do more of it.

3. Going into cheerleader mode (which is the lazy manager’s method of recognition) is the equivalent of giving a participation ribbon. Those who barely show up will feel validated that its good enough. Everyone who actually tried their best and did good work will feel demotivated because they got the same as the people who did nothing.

All of this being said, perhaps 2020 is the year to make recognition a regular practice.  Diarize it in your calendar or put a reminder sticky on your computer – whatever it takes to remember.

If you and your team want to get on the same page with recognition, we have an entire training session on how to do Recognition well.