We Succeed When We Give Recognition

We Succeed When We Give Recognition image postWe Succeed When We Give RecognitionToo many people at work don’t feel appreciated for their contributions or anything they do and that’s not right!

How do we know this? We typically measure the presence or lack of recognition in terms of employee engagement and stick a recognition question or two somewhere in those engagement surveys companies conduct almost every year.

Fellow Leaguer, Stan Phelps, reported that 43% of highly engaged employees are recognized once a week while only 18% of disengaged employees receive regular recognition.

Which translates into a whole bunch of ungrateful and unappreciating peers and managers, right? Well, maybe not. Perhaps that is an extreme view to take.

43% of highly engaged employees are recognized once a week while only 18% of disengaged employees receive regular recognition.

Truth is, some of us have a pretty hard time knowing how to do this “soft stuff”. I pose the question to you: Do engaged employees get recognized more often or are recognized employees more engaged?

By measuring recognition solely through employee engagement surveys we’ve done ourselves a disservice. Looking at recognition only through the engagement lens causes us to focus on the consequence or outcomes of recognition done right, rather than how to get it right.

I think we need to measure successful recognition in a different way.

Do engaged employees get recognized more often or are recognized employees more engaged?

Let’s make our metrics more action-oriented and leading-indicator-focused versus the pervasive lagging measures we use. Why don’t we define success with recognition giving as whenever we make time to actually say the right kind of words and demonstrate positive actions to express our appreciation to another person?

I believe we succeed when we give right.

This would make any attempt to acknowledge someone a measure of success. It would become a personal barometer of how well we are doing. Now I know some of us treat saying words of praise or positive feedback as if we worked in a foreign language we cannot speak. So let me give you some simple hints to expressing recognition the way people like it.

  1. Put the receiver of recognition first. Giving praise and positive feedback is about the other person and never about you so ensure to always lift people to new heights and focus outward on others.
  2. Be yourself and don’t copy others. The right words to say will simply come to you when you permit yourself to be fully open and vulnerable and not worry about your imperfections.
  3. Tell people what impressed you. Many of us do not believe the things we do each day are that important and that is why we all need reminding of the wonderful difference we are making.
  4. Let what you feel inside come out. Appreciating and recognizing another person stems from our inner feelings of respect, validation and positive emotions towards another.
  5. Vary your medium of communication. Whether face-to-face or remotely, learn to be creative in speaking, writing, and demonstrating the many ways of expressing your appreciation.
  6. Know what your peers like. Just because you like recognition a certain way doesn’t mean another person wants it the same way, so you had better learn their preferences and dislikes first.

Make our metrics more action-oriented and leading-indicator-focused versus the pervasive lagging measures we use.

Each of us needs to get rid of the idea that recognition is hard. It is simple and we have to let go of ourselves and our negative perceptions and discover the rich and rewarding experiences that come from acknowledging everyone around us.

We also need to change how we measure effective recognition giving by leading the way by example.

Become a grand observer of life and the people you associate with each day, and you will begin to see things all around you that merit appreciation and recognition. Get ready to be blown away!

Photo credit: Flickr

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