The Importance of Teaching People The Definitions of Recognition Terms

If there is one thing that I have learned from over 25-years in the recognition field, it’s that people define the same terms completely differently. For some people, they say recognition and they really mean rewards, and it’s difficult to shift their mindset. Then there are others who think that rewards are the only form of recognition they need.

That’s why I always strive to level-set the playing field by educating everyone on the working definitions of terms like recognition and rewards. My recommendation is for you to do exactly the same thing where you work. Teach everyone the definitions that resonate for you and your organization.

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What Makes Recognition Different From Appreciation?

A subscriber of our Authentic Recognition blog suggested I should write about the difference between recognition (more related to work) versus appreciation (more related to the person).

I asked them why this topic was important right now. It seems their organization uses the Gallup Organization’s Q12 engagement survey every two years. In the past year they focused on the recognition specific question/statement #4, “In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work”. 

Her research, like many of us have found, led her to see that “recognition in the workplace” has so many meanings.

She wisely observes that “people fundamentally want to be ‘understood and cared for’ or ‘appreciated’ and would prefer that over ‘recognition’”

She asked for my thoughts on the differences between recognition and appreciation.  Apparently, her organization will likely continue with using recognition. However, she wonders if more time should be spent on appreciation instead of recognition in order to improve the Gallup survey scores.

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Why You Have to Get Recognition Programs Right

There will always be horror stories around recognition programs if you don’t start off on the right foot. 

And the irony of it all is the challenges most often come with the misnomer of calling these problematic programs “recognition programs”. Problems with errant programs usually lies when using rewards, be they tangible merchandise, cash, or near cash rewards.

So, get recognition programs right so there is equity and fairness with non-monetary and intangible recognition and tangible and monetary rewards accompanying these recognition programs.

There is also a need for authenticity and inclusiveness with the expressions of recognition given to people through your programs, whether this is by text, spoken word, or video. Recognition must be genuine and sincere in both intent and how it is communicated to a person. We should give regard to all employees who contribute day in and day out and not focus solely on the rising stars whose performance always exceeds the standards of most employees.

Recognition is for everyone.

You must make sure you get your recognition programs right.

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Thinking About Recognition In A Completely Different Way

I want to help you get unstuck about employee recognition. In fact, I want you to think about recognition in a completely different way.

But first I want to give you a quick orientation to the world of employee recognition.

Then I promise you that I will give you that new point of view. Okay? (more…)