Teaching People to Give Recognition Should Be Easy, Right?

Recognition is such a positive thing to give and receive that you would think teaching people how to give recognition to others should be easy. 

But different studies such as from Gallup show that only a third of employees ever receive recognition in any week for doing outstanding work. 

People always submit lots of reasons as an explanation for this recognition deficit. However, one dominant answer is not knowing how to give recognition to people the right way.

Adam Grant, the award-winning researcher and Wharton School professor, gives a probable reason teaching people to give recognition is not as easy as we think it is. From his research and book, Give and Take, he shows that in our interactions with others most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. 

Takers work at getting as much as they can from others while matchers look to evenly trade between one another. It’s the givers who are the rare breed of people who contribute to others expecting nothing in return. 

It would appear from this research that perhaps giving recognition is already easier for those who are natural givers than for those who are takers or matchers. 

What can we learn from these givers that can help us teach all types of employees to more easily give recognition? 

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How To Get People Ready To Give Better Recognition

If you want to get everyone giving better and more effective recognition to people, you will probably have to educate and train them on how to do that the right way.

However, before you even start any education and training to teach recognition giving skills, there are a few things you should do beforehand to guarantee success. These preparatory steps will help you to get people ready to give better recognition. 

Check out this list and put at least one step into practice this coming month. 

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How To Get Staff To Focus More On Recognition During Tough Times

There are a lot of things the current pandemic has affected with how we use our recognition and reward programs. 

Many organizations affected by the pandemic economically have reduced revenue because of shutting down production, a lack of sales, and the impact on clients affording goods and services. 

The bottom-line outcome is companies cannot always afford to pay for rewards as they normally would.  

People have asked for guidance on how to communicate to their teams the need to prioritize no or low-cost recognition options versus use of rewards in view of the financial reality. They also don’t want to give a negative viewpoint. 

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What About Levels of Skill In Giving Recognition?

Each of us has varying levels of confidence and proficiency with being able to recognize those you live with and especially those you work with.

For some, they had upbeat and positive parents, teachers, and coaches, who inspired them to grow and be successful. They regularly received words of encouragement, appropriate praise, and recognition for their accomplishments.

Others had life situations where they always needed to overcome negativity, received put downs at school, and a lack of sincere concern for the welfare of others. Even where they worked had toxic bosses and a lack of appreciation for their contributions.

No matter the route you took in life, or the role models you had in your life, they now expect you appropriately praise and recognize your employees.

But we all have different abilities and attitudes around giving meaningful and effective recognition.

What can we do?

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How To Develop Emerging Recognition Leaders in Your Organization

A few years ago, some managers at a particular company reached out to a Rideau colleague of mine and me to have a telephone meeting with them. These were young leaders in the making and were part of this company’s emerging leaders’ program. They wanted to learn more about employee recognition and specifically about our recognition programs at Rideau.

Later, we were invited to attend an on-site meeting at the company head office. There we connected with these managers and their peers from across North America, both face-to-face and virtually.

While they were from various departments and held a variety of positions within the company, it was fascinating seeing the light go on for them, and their asking thought-provoking questions about employee recognition.

Their emerging leader program project required them to seek insights on best practices, creating a recognition strategy, and what programs would work best for their managers and employees.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every organization desired to develop their managers through an emerging recognition leaders’ program?

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This Is What Awesome Recognition Looks Like

Some people seem to be just a natural when they are out and about in the company as far as appreciating people for who they are and recognizing the wonderful contributions made by employees.

There will always be others who have a much harder time in recognizing others. For whatever reasons, such as not being recognized as a child, perhaps more introverted, or plain uncomfortable with knowing what to say or do, recognition doesn’t happen.

But the great news is that giving awesome recognition to people is a skill anyone can learn.

When you know what something hard to do looks like, such as a new skill you have to learn, observe those people that do it well. Then all you have to do is reverse engineer how they do the task or skill and then you can replicate this ideal performance and do it yourself.

What does awesome recognition look like? How can you learn to master this art and science of giving meaningful and effective recognition?

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What It Takes To Teach People How To Give Wonderful Recognition

Too many people are not getting the recognition they deserve.

And the reason they are not receiving recognition where you work is because the people they report to, and those they work with don’t know how to express recognition to them.

This very fact motivated me to leave the healthcare field and begin a career in teaching people how to give meaningful and effective praise and recognition to those they work with.

Here’s what I have learned on what it takes to teach others to be real recognition givers.

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How To Get Ready To Educate People About Giving Recognition

When you think education and training is the next steps to take with making real recognition happen where you work, there are a few things to take into consideration first before planning the training program.

In fact, if you prepare yourself and the prospective learners properly, then they will better learn how to give more meaningful and effective recognition to those they work with.

Prior preparation also impacts those involved in designing and developing the learning curriculum and planning the right methods of delivery.

Let’s get ready to educate your employees about recognizing one another the right way.

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What Should You Do If Your Recognition Education Fails?

Most corporate training and education programs work very well. But now and then you get an educational program, whether in-class, online, blended, or via one of the many learning delivery methods, that ends up being a failure.

If you were following the Kirkpatrick Model and the levels of training evaluation, you might do a Level 3 evaluation to examine participant’s behaviors after the training. You want to find out the degree participants are now actively applying what they learned in the training sessions back on the job. 

You conduct a survey to find out what learning participants are doing or not doing with giving employee recognition. Now you find out that a majority of the learners are not doing much with the skills and principles they were taught.

What can you do to correct this problem? How would you handle the fact that your recognition education failed?

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Should Care and Concern Fall Under Recognition?

Is showing care and concern for our fellow employees an act of recognition or something completely different?

From my point of view, I have defined recognition as mostly an intangible expression of acknowledgement and valuing of an individual or team, for their positive behaviours, their personal effort, or contributions they have made.

By this definition, recognition occurs because:

(1)  Some positive action or specific positive behaviors have occurred by an employee on the job. 

(2)  You feel their actions merit you acknowledging and valuing them for who they are or what they do.

(3)  And, unlike rewards, you are not expecting the employee to do something in return just because you’ve recognized them.

So now, in response to a recent question asked of me, do you give recognition to people because they’ve experienced a positive life event or perhaps they’ve had some serious challenges?

Let’s examine this carefully.

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