Over the last 5 years, I’ve had the privilege of training thousands of managers and we always talk about  the importance of employee recognition. I always ask ‘Is there anyone here who thinks there is way too much appreciation going on in the workplace?’ In all this time with all these people, only one person has ever said ‘Yes, my manager needs to lay off the appreciation.’ The only reason he felt that way was because his manager gives the wrong form of appreciation.

Is there really such a thing as bad appreciation? Yes, when it’s vague and meaningless. This usually happens when the manager is running around high-fiving and saying things like ‘great job’ and ‘keep up the good work’. That sort of recognition leaves the employee wondering what they did that was so good.

Why does it matter?

First, let’s take a look at why employee recognition is so important. According to a Gallup article, recognition makes people feel valued which increases their loyalty to the organization. With a booming economy, employers need to seize every opportunity to keep employees around and there is no easier way than simple verbal recognition.

In addition to increased loyalty, employees who feel appreciated are typically more motivated and will produce better results. It’s common knowledge that people will do more of what they’re recognized for. It’s called positive reinforcement.

How often do I need to give recognize my team?

A good rule of thumb comes from one of the questions asked in the State of the American Workplace Report published by Gallup: Have I received recognition in the last 7 days? Only one in three respondents said they had. Furthermore, employees who did not feel recognized said they are twice as likely to look for a new job in the next year. It won’t be hard for them to find one either. A good rule of thumb is to give each employee specific recognition once a week.

How do I do it?

Employee recognition is important but it has to be done right to be meaningful. There are many ways you can recognize people: verbally, financially, publicly, or with food.  If you haven’t been in the habit of giving recognition on an ongoing basis, keep it simple and stick with verbal recognition. Just be sure it’s specific. Example: I noticed you helped your co-worker without being asked when you completed your work. Thanks for helping, it meant we were able to get the work completed on time. The key to sincere recognition is to be clear about both the situation and the impact.

Don’t save it all up until Friday or you’ll come off insincere. Instead, spend time practicing management by walking around and observe what people are doing. Catch them in the act of doing something right. It doesn’t have to be a big thing but it should be something that has an impact on the goals of the department or organization.

Is there any easy way to implement a recognition program?

Yes! Get a pack of Catch Them in the Act! notepads so you can record the positive behaviors you’ve noticed and then provide specific employee recognition. The tear-off sheets make it easy to file and access so when it comes time for performance evaluations you’re not straining your brain trying to come up with concrete examples to support the feedback you’re giving. It’s a win/win all around. The employees get ongoing recognition and you have a good record of positive performance so writing reviews is a breeze.

Liz Uram helps leaders get better results through clear communication. Work smarter, not harder – get your leadership tools here!

Employee Recognition That Gets Results
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