Energizing Your Workplace Through Recognition

by Joseph Nabity

J&M Strategic Consulting dedicates time each month to discuss leadership and equip its employees with techniques to grow in their individual leadership journey. One topic of this discussion has been developing engaged employees through recognition. Recognition is a tool through which managers and other colleagues can motivate employees and showcase their accomplishments to inspire others.

Recognition is a great motivator in the workplace. The sense of accomplishment that accompanies recognition drives employees to continue to excel in the workplace. However, the recognition process can lose value through predictability. Recognition is not meant to be developed into a routine or a step-by-step checklist to receive an award; it is meant to be tracked so that it showcases work that is above and beyond the expectations of an employee. If it becomes a predictable pattern, recognition loses its impact and employees no longer strive to achieve what they now view as meaningless recognition. In addition, predictable and systematic recognition systems can be twisted to reward employees that exhibit poor work behavior. This action reinforces this bad behavior as acceptable within the workplace for other employees.

As an employer, you can still utilize and manage an effective recognition program while avoiding predictability. Here are a few simple ways to keep your team motivated through recognition:

  1. Small gestures
    • Pick one person each day and point out something they did well
    • Leave a note telling an individual how great he or she performed in a recent meeting
    • Thank the person who started the second pot of coffee
    • Explain the impact of someone’s actions and why those actions mean so much to you
  2. High Visibility
    • An announcement via email to the company that you are impressed with an individual’s recent work or how those efforts went above and beyond
    • Recognize an employee during an in-person staff meeting to showcase his or her accomplishments to the team
    • Offer to take an employee to an off-site, non-work environment to grab lunch or drinks to remove the stress of the office while expressing appreciation for the employee’s work.

Keep in mind that it is important to display recognition based on the individual’s personality. Some employees may prefer a sticky note or one-on-one recognition while others may respond more favorably to a public announcement. It is important to provide a range of recognition efforts that suit each person within your company. The last thing you want is somebody to feel uncomfortable or lose the sincerity of the recognition because it fails to meet their personality.

Regardless of the type of recognition, it MUST be sincere. While having a conversation with a coworker promotes positive social interaction in the workplace, it does not always enhance recognition. Recognition has a purpose; recognition is targeted. Insincerity in your recognition effort will cause a decline in its impact. The recognition effort you choose should be something sought after by employees. It is an effort that goes beyond the traditional day-to-day activities for managers and employees alike.

Whether it’s a small gesture for delivering your document from off the printer or a large celebration for nailing down a huge sale, I challenge you today to make a difference in your workplace by providing proper recognition to someone around you!

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