How To Get Rid of Negative Perceptions of Recognition

You likely view recognition as an amazing and very positive experience.  

But there are also a bunch of naysayers out there

Your perception of recognition is how you think about it or the impression you have of it based on past or present experiences.

How are you supposed to eliminate the negative perceptions about recognition that exist in your organization?

Treat Concerns or Complaints As A Gift

It’s true! Anytime a person complains about issues with your existing recognition programs, be grateful. When someone expresses concern that they’re not recognized at all and the company doesn’t care about them, be respectful and seek to understand their concern. 

Find Out Why? 

If anyone at work starts bad-mouthing your recognition programs or says no one ever recognizes them, dig deeper by asking respectful and probing questions. The key to overcoming negative perceptions is understanding why they have them.

Remember that these perceptions people have about recognition are very real to them. A negative perception comes from a negative experience. Period.

If it is a senior leader, you might find you have to provide them with statistical evidence and proof of the benefits and return on investment from recognition done well. An employee may need assurance that they are right and receive support that you will address the problem. 

Understand the Source 

This is where you need to conduct a root-cause analysis of what has led to the negative perception of recognition. 

Identify what the problem is that a person with a negative perception had with recognition programs or a lack of receiving recognition. See if you can collect any data relating to their concern. The more evidence you can collect to validate the person’s concerns, the more you help them feel acknowledged and respected. This is a huge start to removing their negative perceptions.

Are other people also experiencing this same problem or is it isolated to one manager, team, or department. Knowing this helps you to better appreciate how narrow or widespread the problem is.

Then it’s a matter of finding out what is causing the problem. There may be several variables contributing. If you prioritize the causes, you might find solutions.

A root cause is a theory that stands up to evidence in the data as having a major impact on the symptoms identified and can be controlled for. You want to find out which of the theories you have is most likely the culprit.

The Reality of Negative Perceptions

While none of us want any of our employees or leaders within our organization to have a negative perception of our recognition practices and programs, never be afraid of people who have them. 

Some people have negative personalities and there won’t be much you can ever do to change their minds about things. Learn if they are generally negative about most things at work. Look to the almost perfect satisfaction levels and scores that you get back from surveys and interviews that you do. Look at how often the manager or leader of this individual recognizes or rewards them. Find out why they do or don’t. How often do they personally recognize other people? Don’t get taken in by one negative critic. 

For those individuals who are amazing people to work with but can’t help but give a negative review of recognition, listen and learn from them. These are the outlier situations to look at. There is likely a reason and you should address it. 

A negative recognition perception is a feeling that has come from unfavorable behaviors from others, or no recognition behaviors at all. Maybe it was a cumbersome online experience or the technology around a recognition program does not work properly. Perhaps the recipients of their well-intended recognition responded negatively for a variety of reasons. Discover why. 

Always remember that negative perceptions are actual feelings from a consequence resulting from a negative behavior, or set of behaviors, whether intended or not.

Therefore, your goal is to honor the individual having those negative experiences by looking for a solution.

Solving recognition problems and honoring the feelings of people with negative perceptions is the best way to get rid of negative perceptions of recognition. 

Recognition Reflection: How do you presently address negative perceptions of your recognition practices and programs?

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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