Top 5 Essential Recognition Skills for Leaders

You’ll find plenty of positive recognition practices to become a great recognizer in the many posts in this blog, or within chapters in my book Practicing Recognition, that will help you and the leaders in your organization.

Yet those of you who lead your recognition programs and strive to encourage your leaders to be exemplary recognition givers, influencing leaders to do this important skill can be tough. 

I wanted to dig deeper and draw upon the essential skills that leaders need to develop. What might you coach your leaders on that would help them catch the vision? 

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There’s No Room For Sarcasm When Recognizing People

Sarcasm is also known as verbal irony, and humor often tempers it. It’s a type of speech that has a semantic interpretation opposite to its literal meaning. Too often it is used to say something opposite of what is true, intending to make someone look or feel foolish.

Whatever people say sarcastically should not be taken literally. However, that’s not saying people don’t take it the wrong way. As communication experts will tell you, many people have been on the receiving end of sarcastic comments and it can hurt. 

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Teaching People How To Give Amazing Recognition Takes Time

Is recognition easy to learn? Not necessarily. 

For some people expressing appreciation and recognizing peers comes naturally. But there are a few people where telling others positive things about their actions is both awkward and an uncomfortable experience. 

Teaching your employees how to give meaningful and effective recognition might take a longer time for some of your staff.

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How To Use Technology to Enhance Recognition Giving

There is no doubt face-to-face recognition given in a meaningful and personalized way will always outshine the text-based recognition given through most online recognition programs. 

But can technology driven recognition programs actually enable daily recognition practices?

I will show you some ways how technology-based recognition programs can enhance regular recognition giving where you work. 

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Top 10 Ways to Give Better Recognition Than Anyone Else

Imagine if each person gave recognition just one percent better than the last time that they recognized someone. That’s all it takes to enhance your recognition practices and optimize the usage of your recognition programs. One percent improvement is all it takes. And here are some ways for you to give better recognition than anyone else every day. 

  1. Start your workday off by sending out or giving a thought of gratitude. Even if it is only one person you communicate with, imagine the difference you will make. Don’t open up your email inbox until you have emailed a message or spoken gratitude to someone.
  2. Actively smile whenever you greet someone and especially when you recognize them. Whether face-to-face or virtually through the various video conference tools, a smile engages people and sends positive, emotional, non-verbal communication.
  3. Ensure you make eye contact with people you express recognition to. When two people make eye contact when communicating, their brains actually synchronize emotional brainwaves and it enhances the receptiveness to what they said.
  4. Be enthusiastic and use a positive tone of voice when verbally recognizing others. A positive tone of voice conveys the words communicated in a healthier and better way. Work to be more excited about the recognition you give, and people will feel it.
  5. Use the person’s name in the text boxes of your online recognition programs. It is easy to neglect using a person’s name in an online program because you have selected who the message or ecard is going to. But people read the message in the box, so use it.
  6. In text, writing, or speech, tell people specifically what you’re recognizing them for. Refrain from using the too short and sweet generic statements with your recognition. Tell them exactly what it was you noticed that impressed you. They really want to know.
  7. In the same manner, be specific about how the person’s actions impacted others. Too often people do not know how their positive actions affected others. Share the impact their behaviors had on a peer, a customer, their boss, or for the company.
  8. Work on using positive vocabulary versus neutral words when recognizing people. Stop using words like, “good job” or “well done.” The words “good” and “well” are neutral. And being more specific, eliminates “job,” and “done”. Get more creative. Be amazing!
  9. Leave a voice mail message for someone expressing your thanks for their work. Try after hours to leave a voice mail message expressing your appreciation for the work an employee has done. It may surprise you how long people keep these messages and replay them.
  10. Write a well written thank-you card or note to recognize people each day. If you write one card or note a day to any employee in the organization who has affected you, you will make a tremendous difference. Those cards become keepers, and people often reread them.

Why Recognition Needs To Be More Strategic Where You Work

One trend I am seeing with different clients over the last two years is the development of written recognition strategies. 

Organizations are leveraging a tighter mandate on recognition, especially when coupled with rewards in their programs. 

I’ve seen programs where lower-level reward amounts, whether point-based or gift cards, are opened up in global recognition and reward programs for employees to reward their peers. This can create problems when the cost of living is low in some countries and employees use the rewards more as a make up for lack of salary increases, rather than rewarding above and beyond actions. And some staff get into a tit-for-tat of “I’ll reward you if you’ll reward me” behaviors when controls or approvals are not present. 

So, why should recognition be more strategic in your organization? 

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How To Get Rid of Negative Perceptions of Recognition

You likely view recognition as an amazing and very positive experience.  

But there are also a bunch of naysayers out there

Your perception of recognition is how you think about it or the impression you have of it based on past or present experiences.

How are you supposed to eliminate the negative perceptions about recognition that exist in your organization?

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How To Orient Employees To Be Recognition Ambassadors

One of the exceptional assets any organization has with their employee recognition programs is the very employees you recognize, praise and celebrate. 

That’s why I think too many organizations lose out on one of the biggest solutions to advocating recognition practices and higher usage of their recognition programs. Yep, your employees.

Today, I am going to share with you how to enlist small groups of employees to become your recognition ambassadors. And once you have launched these ambassadors within your organization, then employee recognition will never be the same. 

Let’s find out how you can create and orient some special employees to become your recognition ambassadors.

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Is Employee Appreciation Day Different From Any Other Day?

It has been over 25-years ago since Dr. Bob Nelson originated Employee Appreciation Day on the first Friday in March. 

There was a two-fold purpose for originating this day. 

  1. Bob says it was to help managers better value their employees.
  2. It also coincided with the release of his book, then titled, 1,001 Ways to Reward Employees

So, even with that brief history of the founding of Employee Appreciation Day, has it really changed things in the workplace? Is Employee Appreciation Day different from any other day of the work week?

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