Giving Recognition The Way They Want It

How do you deal with receiving public recognition?

For some, having to go up on stage before a crowd or be in front of their peers at a meeting, and receive well-deserved public recognition, can all seem like torture versus the intended recognition.

And yet, in North America, we have a tendency to almost drag people into the limelight to supposedly honor and laud them.

For the extroverts reading this it is easy to forget there are some employees who plain do not like public recognition.

Gaining Some Insight on Public Recognition

Here’s a reality check.

This varies by the nature of the profession and work you do.

On average, 20 to 25 percent of employees do not want to receive an award or any form of recognition publicly and in front of others.

It is higher for more introverted professions such as librarians and way lower for the outgoing sales type employees.

Stop and think about why some employees would not enjoy receiving public recognition.

Here are some factors I have heard directly from employees. See if they mesh with what you have heard or experienced.

Employees may:

  • Be embarrassed or shy when they are in front of others
  • Be concerned about tripping on the way up to the front or falling on stage
  • Not know what to wear or not own something to wear for a public event
  • Fear of public speaking
  • Have a generalized anxiety disorder
  • Worry about negative peer reaction
  • Be sensitive to outperforming others
  • Not want to be the centre of attention

How To Handle Employee Preferences

When giving employee awards or recognition that they deserve to receive, find out their comfort or discomfort with any public ceremony or presentation.

Through a previous one-on-one meeting you should have learned the personal recognition preferences for each employee.

Otherwise, find out now by simply asking and finding out likes and dislikes, including:

What is their recognition preference? To be publicly recognized? Privately recognized? And maybe they have no recognition preference at all?

If they prefer private recognition, do they prefer immediate manager one-on-ones or written acknowledgement only?

If they prefer public recognition, do they prefer small groups of peers or large groups including others?

You should also determine if they like surprises or senior leadership presence during recognition to ensure the presentation is meaningful.

Based on feedback from your one-on-one employee meetings and wishes expressed by each employee, prepare alternate ways of presenting tangible forms of recognition.

Accommodating Is Respecting Diversity of Recognition

One of my colleagues hated the annual milestone career ceremony.

When a recent milestones came up for her she expressed her preference to her boss. Instead of on stage, I joined her at her invitation with her manager in his office with just a few peers and she gratefully received her service acknowledgement award.

I received a phone call from a company leader who wanted to know how to handle a situation where the employee didn’t want to receive a prestigious company award.

By all measure he merited receiving the major corporate award for their outstanding achievement that year. He did not want to receive the award in any public way, either in person, no mention on the intranet site, or even on the printed program.

I presented a menu of respectful options in typical decision tree format right down to not even receiving the award at all.

He finally accepted to receive a personal signed letter from the company president and have a copy of the letter go on record on his employee file.

Many employees prefer to receive performance awards in their own department or business unit from their immediate supervisors or managers with peers present versus in front of the entire company.

They prefer this to a corporate-wide event because they know the people and leaders they work with.

The bottom-line here is you cannot properly recognize someone if you do not respect them first.

Getting Ready For A Public Recognition Event

Plan in time, if you haven’t done so already, to identify each employee’s preference for receiving recognition publicly or privately.

Even prepare alternate presentations of recognition as a way to improve your relationships with your employees. Making them comfortable when you intend to recognize them makes the appreciation of their efforts that much more authentic!

Remember that determining employee preferences of public versus private recognition is a key factor to successfully delivering recognition.

Honouring whatever your employees’ request speaks volumes in respecting and valuing employees as individuals just as much as the actual recognition or award being given.

Strive to give recognition just the way people like it.

Question: How are you presently accommodating personal preferences for public versus private recognition?

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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