One of my most exciting accomplishments has been working with Dr. Charles Scherbaum from Baruch College, SUNY. Together, we examined the various behaviors and attitudes associated with giving meaningful and effective recognition. Then we conducted the content validity research for our Recognition Skills Assessment® and we found out some very interesting results.
We enlisted recognition subject matter experts to score the level of importance for each behavior and attitude on a Likert scale. They did the same action for scoring the level of impact they felt these behaviors and attitudes had on people and performance.
The outcome of our studies showed very different perspectives for giving effective recognition than I had imagined. From what we learned, I can give you the top five essential actions and attitudes needed for giving effective recognition.
Many social recognition programs available from vendors operate very similar to Meta/Facebook. You have a social newsfeed where you can add status updates. And you can send themed specific ecards or social badges to celebrate achievements, thank people for their help, reward performance goals reached, and acknowledge colleagues’ birthdays and milestone celebrations.
And there is something else that each of us can do. As we go on to our recognition and reward programs, there is the special opportunity to like the various recognition messages sent and to even add our personal comments.
Does liking and commenting make a difference to people? Is one better than the other?
Let’s explore some research and see if we can extrapolate anything that we can apply in our social recognition programs.
I sat in an employee recognition session at the IMA Summit last week at the Snowbird, Utah resort. A participant I know shared their experience with the group that opened my eyes to a very important point of view.
You can sit down with each of your employees and ask them questions about their recognition preferences. Your online recognition and reward programs may automate the entry of recognition choices and how they prefer to be recognized. You can do this with onboarding or any time during their career.
However, what this individual raised was a critical point. Employees’ recognition preferences are not static.
Real Recognition™ is all about transferring positive feelings and emotions that you felt about someone’s actions and conveying those feelings to the other person. That way they can feel similarly as you did about their meaningful behaviors.
When expressing recognition to a person, this is not about your aggrandizement. Recognition is not an ego trip for highlighting you as the giver of the praise. Giving sincere and authentic recognition must always focus on the recipient, the person you want to acknowledge.
How can you make sure the recognition you give a person is about them and not about you?
There is one thing I came into the recognition field to do. That task was to ban saying “good job” as an act of feedback or recognition expression.
Yet they have brainwashed many of us since childhood from home and school, and then into the workplace, to both hear and use those two words.
I am going to explain to you exactly why you must eradicate ever saying the words “good job.” Then I will give a simple way to replace those words. You will feel more confident about being able to give meaningful recognition. And you’ll be perceived as a more genuine recognizer.
Employees want to receive recognition that is memorable and makes them feel good at the same time. Follow these simple strategies and learn how to give memorable recognition to the surrounding people you work with.
1. Start by sharing your gratitude with people. It is important to be optimistic and complimentary of the positive acts and performance you observe around you.
2. Learn to personalize your recognition. Connect with each individual you’re recognizing and energize them with your recognition message uniquely for them.
3. Ensure you give recognition in a timely manner. Work hard at recognizing people as soon as possible after you see their positive actions or they are reported to you.
4. Express your recognition through storytelling. No need to make it too short and sweet when you can tell the story of someone’s accomplishments and how they did it.
5. Focus on making your recognition more positive. Be very specific and selective with your word choice to ensure positive vocabulary and the use of positive vocal inflection.
6. Prepare by questioning your recognition intention. Remember, recognition is always about the recipient and should never be a manipulative technique by the giver.
7. Gauge how effective your recognition is. Pay attention to how well your recognition communication was received and generated a positive reaction.
8. Check out if people felt the recognition given them. Recognition moments are always a felt experience that reinforces and appreciates people.
9. Share the impact people’s actions make. Everyone loves to know how their positive actions and work made a difference to others. So, tell them!
10. Boost people’s pride in themselves and their work. Let people know you appreciate them for who they are and everything they bring to the workplace.
Leaderboards are a type of gaming mechanism that helps learners with goal setting and instilling motivation for learning and performance improvement.
So, how can you design and use leaderboards to socially reinforce the desired performance results you want in the workplace?
I will outline some of the leaderboard mechanics to be aware of and their implications. And I will provide you with a real-world example of a leaderboard that you can emulate and apply in your workplace.