Do You Know How Much Great Recognition Means to Staff?

Research is a fascinating thing to do.

It allows you to ask the questions you are curious about. You also get to ask those questions of people in the real world and find out answers. And you can even go further, if you really want to. You can compare your findings with other groups of people and see if there are any correlations. 

I love to ask questions about employee recognition. 

So, I ask you, do you know how much great recognition means to people?

Employee Perceptions of What They Like

It’s always interesting when you ask questions of employees and their managers. Sometimes, they compare and relate well and sometimes they don’t.

One question we asked employees at a financial institution was what they liked about the recognition they received from their manager. We provided options for them to select a response from.

Over 43 percent of employees, said they like being acknowledged by their manager for their contributions.  

And just over 30 percent said the fact that they felt valued as an employee was meaningful to them.

Managers’ Perceptions of Their Employees

Okay, so that’s the employee side of the equation.

Now, let’s look at what managers think. We asked managers what they thought their own employee specifically liked about the recognition they received from them.

In the managers’ eyes, only 30 percent thought being acknowledged by their manager for their contributions was meaningful to employees. They also perceived being valued as an employee was only important by 26 percent.

You could say these responses from both groups were similar. However, the managers underestimated the value their recognition had on employees.

This is further emphasized when you look at the percentage rating of another response option—that of public recognition.

Only 6 percent of employees said they liked public recognition in front of their peers in this organization. This is way below the average of 25 percent across all industries. Now, watch carefully as we look at what managers thought.

Managers thought employees would love public recognition in front of their peers at a level of nearly 20 percent—four times more than what their employees preferred.

The recognition significance for these findings is:

  1. Managers do not fully appreciate how much the recognition they give to employees means to their staff.
  2. Managers do not know the degree to which employees want to feel valued.
  3. Managers significantly overestimate their employees’ preference for public recognition in front of their peers.

Never assume how your employees like to be recognized. Find out by conducting a sit-down, face-to-face meeting and just ask them.

Then when you learn what each employee wants to feel recognized, meet or exceed their recognition expectations. Honor their wishes and respect what is most important to them to receive meaningful, memorable, and motivational recognition.

Here are some questions you might ask them:

  • How do you best like to be recognized?
  • What type of recognition do you like the least?
  • When have you felt recognized the most?
  • Do you like public recognition? In a small group? In front of a large group?
  • Do you prefer private recognition? One-on-one? With a few close peers?
  • What do you like about the recognition you receive from me (your manager)?
  • If there was one thing you could tell your manager about recognizing employees better, what would you tell them?
  • What one piece of general recognition advice would you give for all managers?

Giving amazing recognition and acknowledging your staff for all they do changes people’s lives and retains loyal employees for a long time.

Recognition Reflection: Do you expect your managers to conduct recognition preference meetings with their staff?

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