Great Leaders Are Great at Recognizing People

You have probably already seen it in your organization.

There are some leaders—directors of departments or senior leadership team members—who not only stand out for what their employees achieve, but who know are great recognizers of their staff. Employees like and trust them and they produce top results because of how they are treated by their leader.

Why is it that great leaders are also great at recognizing people?

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How To Better Understand Your Leader’s Point of View

It is important to create a persona or profile of the leader or leaders you report to for when you need to present to them or gain approval on a proposal. Leaders think differently than rank-and-file employees. It’s these qualities that set them apart.

Read past talks they have given and check out the latest annual reports to gain insights about them. 

Talk to people who know them the best like their assistants and other managers who have had dealings with them.

Gather details about their background and where they have worked along with the job positions they have held.

Know their motivations and pain points that will help you understand their priorities and how they make decisions.

What do you know about their personal life, significant others in their life, family and so forth? What are their hobbies and interest than might give a human connection for you to relate to?

How will understanding your leader’s point of view help you with your recognition strategy and planning?

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It’s Exciting When Leaders Get On Board with Recognition

Whenever I visit an organization that has senior executives who are exemplary recognizers, it’s a whole different ball game. Leaders who know and understand the importance of recognition really drive the rest of the organization in making recognition happen.

Typically, these leaders have set an expectation that giving good recognition is part of the way their organization does things. They are visionary leaders who lead their organizational culture and acknowledge people who live the values. They are purpose driven. These leaders are present at as many recognition and award events as they possibly can. And if they cannot attend, they will assign another top recognizing leader.

Leaders who are on board with recognition see it as the right thing to do for their people. They have also seen the benefit that comes to the organization when you treat your people with respect and value them and their contributions.

Looking at their recognition strategy (note, they have one) you will find their C-suite leaders endorse it fully in word and deed. And that includes budgetary support, leadership actions and reinforcing management accountability on all strategic recognition initiatives through performance management and feedback. 

See if your leaders demonstrate any of the following attributes as recognition leaders.

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Who Are the Recognition Leaders In Your Neighborhood?

Do any of you remember the Sesame Street TV show and the song People in Your Neighborhood? Perhaps I’m dating myself.

The lyrics of the song started with:

“Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood?… and concluded with…The people that you meet each day.”

Bob McGrath, one of the few human actors on the show among the many puppet characters, sang the song with one of the puppets and then they would identify the different people that helped make their Sesame Street neighborhood. Various puppets appeared representing the postman, firefighter, grocery store owner, barber, and doctor, etc.

Many times I am asked how to get senior leaders involved with recognizing and appreciating their employees. Or how to engage them in accessing their online recognition programs to acknowledge or nominate staff.

Sometimes I feel if the leaders don’t “get it” about the importance of recognizing employees, maybe those who manage recognition at the organization should let the natural consequences take their course.

The real recognition leaders in your organization are most often the people that you meet each day in your “neighborhood” at work.

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What Makes Giving Feedback So Difficult for Leaders?

Two magazines arrived on my desk within weeks of one another and both highlighted “feedback” on their cover articles. Then I received an email inviting me to attend an online presentation about moving from feedback to action. Looks like the topic of feedback was on my radar.

Some of us have a hard time giving feedback and even receiving feedback.

“Can I give you some feedback?” 

Do you cringe at that question? Or do you look forward to discussions following that question? You and I can react so differently depending on the source of the feedback, your current work and life status, and what exactly you are being critiqued about. 

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Let Your Leaders Know What It’s Like To Be Unrecognized

Sometimes they just don’t get it, do they?

You’ll hear a comment from a leader questioning the import of your wanting to create a recognition strategy. Another leader glosses over the latest engagement survey results and states that 56% percent on the recognition questions is good, isn’t it? These are all real scenarios.

Now I am well aware this does not describe all leaders. But there are enough to cause concern.

A few of them don’t understand why some employees are complaining about a lack of recognition. They think they pay their employees well and they have good jobs. What more can they want?

Sounds like it’s time to let your leaders know what it feels like to be unrecognized.

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How to Help a Leader Who’s Not a Good Recognizer

Not all leaders are good at giving recognition.

It takes a certain person to rise up the ranks and become a senior leader in an organization. Some have exceptional interpersonal skills and enjoy being with people and are good at interacting with others. There are others who became leaders because of their exceptional skills or expertise in various administrative and professional areas.

However, giving meaningful and effective recognition is a competency skill all leaders should develop even if they don’t see recognition as important. A Quantum Workplace study on 7 Employee Engagement Strategies found only 11.8% of organizational representatives put employee recognition as a top people priority.

Your role as a leader of recognition is to create better leadership awareness of the importance of employee recognition. Help your leaders know how to deal with the reality that happens when employees do not feel recognized. (more…)

What To Do When Leaders Mess Up Recognition

People make mistakes.

It was Alexander Pope who penned the phrase, “to err is human; to forgive, divine.” But it can be very hard on employees when a senior leader or manager botches up their personal recognition experience.

You’re often left to pick up the pieces, make amends, placate upset employees, or otherwise fix the recognition mistake that the leader made. You can’t always correct a leader right away.

What can you as a recognition manager or practitioner do to prevent any further recognition mess-ups? (more…)

What Your Leaders Can Do To Lead Recognition

Senior leaders are a powerful force for driving recognition giving across the organization. Their attitudes and, hopefully, exemplary practices, become a beacon and benchmark for others to follow–whether good or bad.

Here are three ideas to explore with your leaders to help you elevate recognition in the eyes of all employees. (more…)

Sure Fire Ways To Get Leaders On Board with Recognition

Some leaders get it and some don’t. There are those who have strong people skills and understand the value of giving recognition well. Then are the others who question the purpose of recognition and the expense associated with it.

How can you guarantee getting leadership support and their personal commitment to making recognition happen?

Think about the following ten steps before heading into a meeting with a leader or your senior leadership team. (more…)