The Importance of Recognition
Recognizing employees for their achievements and celebrating their wins has been considered an essential part of being a good manager. Trumpets need not blare nor is a bullhorn needed. Simple, specific and informal recognition is the key. Study after study has found that managers who use informal recognition methods are more likely to have engaged workers than managers who rely solely on formal systems like bonuses or promotions.
One reason for this is that informal recognition feels personal. It tends to be more frequent and immediate than formal ones. Formal makes one wait on a performance review or a year-end bonus and is often experienced as just that – formal (i.e. not approachable). Informal, on the other hand, happens right when someone does something positive, rather than several months later. Informal recognition also gives the manager the opportunity to connect and be thoughtful.
Another benefit to recognizing team members is that it just makes them feel better about themselves overall. Over time, when someone is recognized and celebrated at work, they become more confident in their abilities, more dedicated in their roles, and are more likely to be a positive influence to others around them. All great things!
When Sweet Celebrations Turn Sour
While there are many ways to recognize and celebrate employees, it is possible to do it incorrectly. For example, some people don’t like to be recognized publicly. Imagine walking one of your more introverted coworkers up in front of the entire company to recognize them for a job well-done. They wouldn’t feel celebrated at all. The only thing they would want to do is get out of the spotlight as fast as possible!
Or consider the (sometimes seen as) insincere celebration. This is experienced as “atta boy” or offered with a non-explicit high five. Ironically, this is well-intended yet often causes more harm than good. There is a failure to recognize the specific impact or contribution of the effort. This flies in the face of the strong desire to be in a workplace that values meaning.
Lastly, one size fits all recognition is apt to fall flat. Recognition with a tangible reward elevates when the reward matches the specific desires of the one receiving it. Think of an employee who has recently come back to work from maternity leave. Instead of celebrating her wins with a gift basket of some sort, why not invite her to leave early on a Friday so she can have some extra time with her little one.
When you know your employees on an individual level, you’ll be better able to recognize them in the way THEY want to be recognized and in a manner where they know the impact they have created. When this takes place, a small gesture of recognition will build the confidence they have in you as a manager, their confidence in the company, and the confidence they have in their own abilities.
Don’t Celebrate Alone… Bring the Team!
Some projects require a large amount of collaboration between team members. When working on teams like this, individual contributions tend to get swallowed up in the whole. This is especially true when new team members are mixed with tenured employees. In this scenario, it’s even more critical to celebrate the individuals for their contributions along with recognizing the larger effort, no matter how great or small. Doing so will boost their confidence which will in turn, boost team productivity and morale. Again, warning to the wise….make sure that the individual effort being recognized is specific with clear impact.
If you have a large team stacking up some huge wins, go ahead and give a larger celebration! Team recognition like this will only add, benefit the engagement, satisfaction, and ability of the team to complete goals especially if you’ve recognized the individuals within the team as well.
It’s no secret that recognizing wins in the workplace contributes to higher productivity, lower turnover, and higher revenue. That’s all fine and great but there’s so much more to it. When people are celebrated, they feel better about themselves. When they understand how their effort has had a specific and positive impact, the recognition is all the sweeter.
And in the end, making people feel human through your leadership is the ultimate goal, right?
Mary Pat Knight is CEO of Leaders Inspired – an executive coaching and consulting agency devoted to the development of emotionally intelligent leaders. She is also the author of the Amazon #1 International Best Selling book, The Humanized Leader.
The ground-breaking new book, The Humanized Leader: The Transformative Power of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership to Impact Culture, Team and Business Results, is now available in Kindle, paperback, or as an audiobook. To get your copy – or extras for your team, click the button below.