Employee Recognition: Have You Said Your "Thank Yous" Today?

by Eugenia Tripputi - Date: 2007-03-01 - Word Count: 904 Share This!

In a busy work world, where deadlines seem tighter, resources are less each day, and the bottom line appears to take priority over people, we put aside the fact that those very same individuals we forget to acknowledge are the ones who make things happen. Oftentimes, perhaps more frequently than I would like to see on a regular basis, I have observed organizations brag about their people and how much they value them. Yet when walking through the door, one could cut the tension with a knife! They do appear to have one thing right, though, at least in theory: without "their people" there is no organization.

However, without necessarily having the intention of hypocrisy, the leaders in these companies keep on pushing the envelope and only recognizing in pompous ways... with "big carrots" during company-wide meetings for those very few fortunate who qualify to even participate in the race for them. Or, in non-profit and government organizations, the fight for status and getting to a higher position becomes the only way they can be recognized for their efforts... but only if they know the right people in high places. "Interesting approaches," I have thought to myself oftentimes, since experts in the field have shown that productivity and outcomes are hugely affected by the daily work environment. And, just like your car and mine, people can go so far without refueling. And where does that fuel come from? Actually, it is much simpler that most of us believe!

Without taking away any merit from involved recognition programs or advancement opportunities because they serve different purposes, remember that employees get jazzed by the simple things that their managers do for them or notice on a daily basis. They also get recharged by the kudos from their peers for a job well done. It is true that different personality styles prefer to be recognized in different ways. Some like public displays and celebrations while others prefer a specific private note or conversation. No matter in what way it happens, humans have one thing in common: we all like to be told that we have done a job well and, preferably, be told why.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines recognition as "to acknowledge or take notice of in some definite way" or "to acknowledge with a show of appreciation." In my experience, as long as it is sincere, timely, and consistent, it does not matter what one does to recognize the work and efforts of others.

Be Sincere and Specific.
People can tell a mile away if you have just taken a management course and have been taught that good managers recognize their employees. When (notice I did not write "if") you recognize a staff member, make sure to pick a specific situation. "You did a great job" is typically meaningless for the average worker. So, here is the formula: state what his specific action or contribution was, explain the impact, thank the person for what they have done, and encourage them to continue to share their talents.

Do Not Use the "I don't have time or money" Excuse.
I invite you to think about recognition in a new way: you cannot afford not to do it! First, there are hundreds of books in the market that can give you inexpensive or free ideas of how to say "thank you" to your staff, such as an email with a copy to the "big boss" or a coffee voucher for a cup of java at the local store. Second, every second you invest in your people will yield an unbelievable return that, if done well and from the heart, could produce results off the charts. Think about the best boss you ever had... I bet you that he or she took the time to let you know what you were doing well. And, not only you probably wanted to do an even better job, but, when things did not go quite that right, he or she could afford to deal with the issues openly to make you an even better employee. Follow my win-win in this proposal?

Create a Work Environment Where Recognition is Part of the Culture.
Not only this approach will take the weight off you doing all the praising but also will give your employees many more opportunities to be noticed. You cannot be everywhere and there is only one of you! Additionally, by creating a place where everyone feels comfortable telling each other what they are doing right, you are promoting collaboration. People are more likely to help each other when things are not going exactly as they would have expected and are less inclined to use blame and finger pointing by redirecting their energy to solving their problems as a team.

I know that not all of us are "people people," and I have seen my share of managers who were outstanding in their technical field but should have never been promoted into supervisory positions. However, if you do take on the responsibility of supervising, remember that you are dealing with individuals who need a source of motivation, inspiration, and a role model. At the end of the day, we all like to take a paycheck home... Why not do it in a way that makes a difference and makes your employees want to work for you rather than have to?

Article written by Eugenia Tripputi, founder of Global Career Solutions International.

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Related Tags: managing employees, employee recognition, work environment, workplace environment, employee satisfaction, supervising, recognition ideas

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