Conscious Awareness of the Importance of Recognition

I am drawing on the principles from Bob Rosen and Emma-Kate Swann’s book Conscious: The Power of Awareness in Business and Life. The opening premise of their book is that being unaware is a big liability.

They highlight some of the observed behaviors that are caused by a lack of conscious awareness. Think about the following actions and see if you’ve experienced any of them too.

  • An unintended (or so they said) offense given to a colleague.
  • Ignoring a customer’s valid complaint about a product.
  • Blindness to the personal needs of a team member.
  • Lack of compassion for a child’s concern shared at home.
  • Uncivil remarks made in a management meeting about a leader.

Research from Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist, indicates that only 10 to 15 percent of us are ever truly self-aware of what we do and our abilities.

Why aren’t we changing with giving people the recognition they deserve? From my observation, a lack of awareness of the importance and value that employee recognition has on people’s lives is a big reason why it doesn’t happen frequently enough.

Four reasons Rosen and Swann give us for why we don’t change our behaviors fast enough are:

We are too shallow. We don’t go deep enough into our human psyche. When was the last time you took time to self-reflect on your negative and positive qualities? You have to be able to appreciate yourself first before you can ever sincerely appreciate another person. If you cannot see your own weaknesses, as well as your strengths, you won’t be sensitive enough to all the things people go through behind the scenes, to make the contributions they do.

We are too narrow. Sometimes we’re too narrow-minded and unwilling to shift our thinking. Our perspective is the only way or the highway. We are biased in our assumptions and judgments. The values we esteem so highly may now seem outdated. This is when we see managers say things like, “We pay them well enough. What more do they want?”Notice how they say these lines whenever the subject of recognition is brought up. They do this so they can bulldoze over the idea and avoid giving it.

We are too safe. We like being in our non-committal cocoon. We are not willing to stretch ourselves for the benefit and growth of another person. Do you avoid changing your habits and behaviors that could help make you a great recognizer? Instead, you let many of those you work with feel unappreciated. And for some, you influence through your non-action their looking elsewhere as they plan their exit strategy from the company.

We are too small. Perhaps we are too isolated in our life and work experiences. Or maybe you don’t see your full potential for solving the recognition famine at work. Never limit yourself. Consider the positive connections and relationships you can build through recognizing friends and family. Be consciously aware of the difference you can make in the lives of others by expressing recognition and showing appreciation.

So here’s what happens when we are healthily self-aware of ourselves, according to the referenced research found by Tasha Euric and her team:

We are:

  • More confident
  • More creative
  • Make sounder decisions
  • Build stronger relationships
  • Communicate more effectively

These are all essential qualities for giving better and more effective recognition to those we work with.

Better Self-Awareness for Better Recognition

Internal Self-Awareness

This is all about how we see ourselves as far as our values, strengths, weaknesses, passions, aspirations, our relationship and impact on others, and the world at large. Specific to employee recognition consider reflecting on and answering on paper the following questions.

  • How well do you think you recognize people?
  • Do you plan in time to recognize colleagues?
  • How important is it to appreciate people and their contributions?
  • What impact have you seen from recognizing people?
  • What do you think employees would say about the quality and frequency of recognition you give or don’t give, to them?

External Self-Awareness

This is about understanding how other people see us around some of the elements described under internal self-awareness. When looking at employee recognition you could seek input from staff and managers. Ask them the following questions and don’t defend yourself. Just listen and nod your head to acknowledge their comments.

  • Tell me candidly how good you think I am at recognizing employees.
  • How frequently do I recognize you for the contributions you make on the job?
  • How has the recognition I have given you impacted your work?
  • What’s one way I could improve with giving recognition so it is more meaningful and effective?

In summary, there are three things you can do to build greater conscious awareness to give better quality recognition to your employees.

  1. Build greater internal and external self-awareness. This kind of introspection is not easy and is often flawed. Ask yourself and others the questions posed above.
  2. Seek honest feedback from sincere and friendly sources. Being open and vulnerable to feedback is critical. Sit down and discuss employee recognition with the people you know, like, and trust.
  3. Ask what questions instead of why for introspection. Instead of asking yourself, “Why am I not giving people recognition when they deserve it?” reframe into a “what” question. Reflect and ask yourself, “What do I need to start doing to better recognize colleagues and employees that positively impact them?”

Recognition Reflection: How aware am I of what employees think and feel about the recognition I give to them?

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