Do You Really Educate Your People To Give Recognition?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

One of my biggest concerns about learning employee recognition skills is how companies are relying too much on training.

You are well aware that training is about learning how to do new things especially if you don’t know how. It is providing opportunities to practice those skills and transfer what you have learned out of the classroom, or online course, and into the real world.

But, you may have seen, as I have, that managers often receive the training and nothing really changes.

My advice to you is to make sure you couple any training you provide with education.

Ask yourself if you are educating your people to give recognition versus just training them to do so.

Education is completely different than training. I found that out later in life.

Education Changes Everything

After leaving school when I was 16 years old in England I ended up working in a bank as a clerk, or the equivalent of a customer service representative in North America.

In coming to Canada, I was quick to see that advancement in companies required further education.

That’s when I commenced university and had to do some major catching up before I was on track to getting my two degrees.

I began working as a Speech-Language Pathologist in a hospital and participated in team and management meetings. I was surprised how some individuals could not understand certain decisions or see obvious to workplace problems.

A psychologist friend of mine in the hospital and in the same meetings reminded me of the education some of us had obtained. Not wanting to think that made one better than another she clarified what she meant.

“Education makes you think differently about things.”

Education has been described as fostering the mind and encouraging an individual to think independently.

Recognition education introduces people to behavioral and neuropsychological knowledge about people, behavioral economics, and the human brain.

Education delivers theories to help people think through situations, better understanding of human behavior and a sense of values and principles to follow.

The difference between training and education is graphically illustrated by this reported story. A father is supposed to have said: “If my daughter told me she was getting sex education in school I’d be pleased. If she told me she got sex training I’d go straight to the police.”

Education is the why and training is the how.

Educating on Employee Recognition

I think with employee recognition practices we must focus on education as well as training.

There is an obvious overlap between the two areas. Training specific recognition skills such as non-verbal skills such as eye contact, smiling, and vocal tone, may require education on theories of perception, reciprocity and pro social behaviors.

Education will help people believe and know better about:

  • Their own intentions behind acknowledging people
  • Why as a company you are committed to appreciating people
  • Barriers and myths we create for ourselves that stop recognition giving
  • Understanding the impact of recognition on people and performance
  • The power behind the right words spoken on the brain and body
  • Why some people need their contributions validated and others do not
  • How recognition influences positive relationships and engagement

I advocate educating people on recognition principles and the right kind of practices, before endeavouring to teach and train people how to give recognition the right way.

To paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche,  He who has a why [for recognition] can bear almost any how.”

Work with your learning and development people, or organizational development team members, to ensure you have a strong education focus on recognition in your management development plans.

Question: Where can you see the benefit from educating people on employee recognition practices?

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