A few years ago, some managers at a particular
company reached out to a Rideau colleague of mine and me to have a telephone
meeting with them. These were young leaders in the making and were part of this
company’s emerging leaders’ program. They wanted to learn more about
employee recognition and specifically about our recognition programs at Rideau.
Later, we were invited to attend an
on-site meeting at the company head office. There we connected with these
managers and their peers from across North America, both face-to-face and
While they were from various departments and
held a variety of positions within the company, it was fascinating seeing
the light go on for them, and their asking thought-provoking questions
about employee recognition.
Their emerging leader program project required
them to seek insights on best practices, creating a recognition strategy, and
what programs would work best for their managers and employees.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every organization
desired to develop their managers through an emerging recognition
Some people seem to be just
a natural when they are out and about in the company as far as
appreciating people for who they are and recognizing the wonderful
contributions made by employees.
There will always be others who have a much
harder time in recognizing others. For whatever reasons, such as not being
recognized as a child, perhaps more introverted, or plain uncomfortable with
knowing what to say or do, recognition doesn’t happen.
But the great news is that giving awesome
recognition to people is a skill anyone can learn.
When you know what something hard to do looks
like, such as a new skill you have to learn, observe those people that do it
well. Then all you have to do is reverse engineer how they do the task or skill
and then you can replicate this ideal performance and do it yourself.
What does awesome recognition look like? How can
you learn to master this art and science of giving meaningful and effective
training (ILT) has always been the mainstay for helping people to learn the
soft and hard skills that organizations need for many years.
In fact, I
recall how when I first started providing education and training on effective
employee recognition skills twenty years ago, that I was being asked to design
and develop 1 and 2-day training programs. These days you’re lucky to get
access to managers and leaders for even half a day.
But as Josh
Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte and global research analyst says,
“learning in the flow of work is one of the most powerful levers available to
business leaders today.”
That is what
we should do with learning. Learning happens at work when the learner is
ready to learn.
What are some
new ways that managers and employees can learn to give better recognition to
When you think
education and training is the next steps to take with making real recognition
happen where you work, there are a few things to take into consideration first
before planning the training program.
In fact, if you
prepare yourself and the prospective learners properly, then they will better
learn how to give more meaningful and effective recognition to those they work
preparation also impacts those involved in designing and developing the
learning curriculum and planning the right methods of delivery.
Let’s get ready
to educate your employees about recognizing one another the right way.
training and education programs work very well. But now and then you get an
educational program, whether in-class, online, blended, or via one of the many
learning delivery methods, that ends up being a failure.
If you were
following the Kirkpatrick Model and the levels of training evaluation, you
might do a Level 3 evaluation to examine participant’s behaviors after the
training. You want to find out the degree participants are now actively
applying what they learned in the training sessions back on the job.
You conduct a
survey to find out what learning participants are doing or not doing with
giving employee recognition. Now you find out that a majority of the learners
are not doing much with the skills and principles they were taught.
What can you do
to correct this problem? How would you handle the fact that your recognition
showing care and concern for our fellow employees an act of recognition or
something completely different?
my point of view, I have defined recognition as mostly an
intangible expression of acknowledgement and valuing of an individual or team,
for their positive behaviours, their personal effort, or contributions they
this definition, recognition occurs because:
(1) Some positive action or specific
positive behaviors have occurred by an employee on the job.
(2) You feel their actions merit
you acknowledging and valuing them for who they are or what they do.
(3) And, unlike rewards, you are not
expecting the employee to do something in return just because you’ve recognized
now, in response to a recent question asked of me, do you give recognition to
people because they’ve experienced a positive life event or perhaps they’ve had
some serious challenges?
recognition training was always a knee jerk reaction to low scores on
recognition related questions on the latest employee engagement survey results
when I first started speaking and training on recognition skills.
recognition training is much more planned and strategic as human resource
leaders and organizational development specialist have grown in awareness of
recognition’s role and realize a lot of us need skills training.
The good news is
that giving meaningful, memorable, and motivational recognition can be
learning how to give recognition has not always been at the forefront of most
organizations’ learning curriculum.
In my training
sessions I ask managers in attendance different questions to help them get
grounded about employee recognition. I also want to discern how aware they are of
the impact a lack of recognition has on their employees.
What I can
assure you is, a large majority of managers already know that unrecognized
employees are at risk.
The most common
factor identified is that unrecognized employees will lack motivation, are demotivated, or have no motivation
at all. This leads to underperformance or low performance.
realize that when employees are
not appreciated it will frustrate them, they become unhappy, and could well be looking for another job so are
at risk of leaving the company.
research by Dr. Jean-Pierre Brun at the Université Laval in Quebec City, found
that the absence of employee recognition is the second leading cause of
workplace burnout and stress, right after workload.
A subscriber of our Authentic Recognition blog suggested I should
write about the difference between
recognition (more related to work) versus appreciation (more related to the
I asked them why this topic was
important right now. It seems their organization uses the Gallup Organization’s
Q12 engagement survey every two years. In the past year they focused on the
recognition specific question/statement #4, “In the last seven days, I have
received recognition or praise for doing good work”.
Her research, like many of us have found, led her to see that
“recognition in the workplace” has so many meanings.
She wisely observes that “people fundamentally want to be
‘understood and cared for’ or ‘appreciated’ and would prefer that over ‘recognition’”
She asked for my thoughts on the
differences between recognition and appreciation. Apparently, her
organization will likely continue with using recognition. However, she wonders
if more time should be spent on appreciation instead of recognition in order to
improve the Gallup survey scores.