We all like to receive acknowledgement for our efforts. Add in a dose of sincerity, and an audience of co-workers, and you have the basics of employee recognition.
It seems so simple to do and is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a leader, yet I am often puzzled by how infrequently some leaders take the opportunity to publically and openly recognise and acknowledge the accomplishments of their people.
Recognising outstanding contributions and efforts can cost very little, and should be woven into every aspect of leaders communication and staff engagement practices.
For example, we recently worked with a client to redesign their change communication program, so that townhall workshops incorporated specific recognition of the recent COVID achievements of their participants.
The simple act of genuine and authentic act of calling out individual and team contributions delivered by senior leaders helped enormously to lift morale at a team level and focus attention on the things that matter.
So why is recognition so powerful?
In simple terms, recognition is acknowledging what people do. Appreciation is valuing who they are.
Delivered in the correct way, recognition gives positive feedback based on accomplishments and discretionary effort.
Appreciation on the other hand is about is about acknowledging a person’s inherent value or worth, rather than their accomplishments.
Some leadership tips for incorporating authentic and genuine recognition into your toolkit:
- Don’t wait. Be timely. Recognition is most impactful when it is timely and coincides with the circumstances in question. The longer the time lapse between the action and the communication, the lower the impact.
- Deliver it personally. The power of social recognition comes from how it is delivered. The fact that a manager or owner is taking time to recognise or praise an employee emphasises to that person the importance of the behaviour.
- Treat it as valuable. This isn’t a ribbon for turning up and participating. To be effective, recognition must be valued, meaningful, and sought after. Customising the reward to the individual can heighten the impact.
- Positive reinforcement works. Recognition must be honest and deserved. It should be a directly connected to desired behaviour or outcomes. Do not reward underperformance or bad behaviours.
- Recognition is about role modelling. It serves to help other employees understand what success looks like.
The time leaders spend on recognition is one of the best investments they can make. When leaders give their people the recognition they have earned, show appreciation, and acknowledge the unique things people have to offer they will drive significantly better results.
Recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment, and helps employees feel valued for their work. Not only does it boost individual employee engagement, but it has been found to improve productivity and loyalty to the organisation, leading to higher retention.
Engaged employees contribute at a higher level.
Effective and consistent recognition delivered to those exhibiting desired behaviours will help to drive engagement, motivate high performing employees, and strengthen your company culture.
All these are critical to winning the battle to find and retain high performing people.