4 Principles for Giving Recognition At The Right Time

How important is timeliness when giving recognition to employees?

I am going to show you that there is great value in giving timely recognition to your employees.

We asked managers their thoughts on the importance of timeliness of when they gave recognition to their employees. Here is how they responded:

  • 60% of managers said it was extremely important, and
  • 34% indicated it was very important.

Now that we know what managers think about timeliness of recognition, let’s find out what employees say about the importance of timeliness of recognition given to them.

  • 20% of employees surveyed think they should receive recognition immediately, and
  • 52.9% thought that they should receive it soon after.

So nearly three-quarters of employees are telling us they want to receive any merited recognition immediately or soon after the positive action demonstrated.

Timely recognition reinforces the positive behavior or action observed or reported. Behaviours recognized soon after the action occurred helps reinforce the repetition of the behavior in the future.

Four Principles for Giving Timely Recognition

Below are four principles for learning how to give more timely recognition. I hope they will help guide you in giving recognition at the appropriate time.

These principles are accepted or professed rules of action or conduct for recognition giving in the workplace.

Let’s explore these principles and accompanying actions for giving more timely recognition.

Principle #1: The sooner recognition is given the greater the afterglow effect.

 Potential Actions:

  • Acknowledge people for their contributions and positive actions as soon as you see or hear about it. Make it a way of life!
  • Express recognition and appreciation right away or at least within 24 hours.
  • Whether face-to-face, by email, a text or written card, make time and plan to do it right away.

Principle #2: Delaying recognition causes lost intrinsic value with the increased length of time from when the action or behavior occurred.

 Potential Actions:

  • If you forget or neglect to give someone immediate recognition, apologize and then give it anyway.
  • Recognize your employees within a 24-hour window to still give meaningful recognition for any excusable and unforeseen delay.
  • Even if it is awkward or given at a later time, always give praise and appreciation, as it is better perceived than no recognition given at all.

Principle #3: Start and end each day with gratitude for people who make a difference.

 Potential Actions:

  • Begin each day by sending one email of gratitude to someone in the organization before opening up any emails in your inbox
  • Walk around the workplace for several minutes each day and visit with employees to hear firsthand feedback on how everything is going
  • Spend 20-30 minutes at the end of each day and personally handwrite a note/Thank You card to employees and teams who made a difference

 Principle #4: Reminding yourself to give recognition to people is OK as long as you don’t permanently depend on reminders.

 Potential Actions:

  • Use the reminder system on your computer or mobile electronic device to cue “Who should I recognize today?”
  • Even use the classic PostIt® Notes on your phone, planner or desk, as well as software versions, to remind you.
  • Set aside time for personal 1-to-1 feedback meetings with employees and discover what contributions you should acknowledge.

Use the principles you’ve learned here to ensure timeliness of the recognition you give people. Doing so will reinforce positive behaviors or actions observed and ensure repetition of positive work in the future!

Choose one principle and a corresponding action you will commit to doing this week for giving more timely recognition to employees.

Question: What benefits have you seen from giving timely recognition to employees?

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