Can You Give Employees Too Much Recognition?

It is amazing how often I get asked that question. “Can you give employees too much recognition?”

You have to be polite when responding, but I often wonder what their motive is for asking or what happened in a recent work experience to generate such a question.

Quite simply, the answer is “No”.

You can’t give employees too much “real” or Authentic Recognition – that is, meaningful acknowledgment or expressions of appreciation given in an authentic and genuine manner.

Authentic, or real recognition is any thought, word or deed towards making someone feel appreciated for who they are and recognized for what they do. It’s about appreciating people and recognizing actions.

However, I DO think you can give too much of the WRONG Recognition.

You know what I mean. The phony attempts at saying “thanks”; the patronizing comments; insincere gibberish; unspecific generalized expressions; belittling tone of voice; inconsiderate gestures; the off the wall exaggerated gushing attempts; the uncaring, sarcastic words; and all demeaning actions.

I can assure you there has never been any organizational psychology research study administered or a company employee engagement study conducted, where the results came back and all the employees unanimously said, “Will you PLEASE tell our managers to stop giving us so much recognition!”

Never seen it. Never will.

In fact, the opposite is, unfortunately, too often the case.

Now, as for rewards, which get misconstrued and misinterpreted as “recognition” – that’s completely another story.

Can you give too many rewards? Of course you can – just like you can eat too much candy. Like any living thing there is a saturation point for rewards and you have to figure out what the limit is. For your trivia learning benefit, the saturation point for rats is 48 hits of the food pellet machine.

A dependency on receiving rewards leads to an entitlement mentality and a gamified approach to work performance and work relationships.

Of course, when rewards are misunderstood, badly administered, or not given in a meaningful way, tangible rewards can also have a negative impact on intrinsic motivation.

But more on that topic for another day.

Bottom-line, please don’t stop giving people recognition, okay?

Question: Why do you think people ask this question?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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