Teach People One Recognition Behavior At A Time

Each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses in the plethora of skills needed to make a successful workplace. 

Yet, with recognizing people, many think that all you have to do is say, “thank you” and you’re done. 

The fact is that there are oodles of behaviors to discover and learn about with giving recognition the right way. And that’s why I recommend you learn one behavior at a time. Get some mastery behind each behavior and become a confident recognition giver. 

Are you ready? 

I identified at least forty behaviors and attitudes in my research associated with meaningful and effective recognition. Then we had experts of employee recognition help us validate this content. They looked at the frequency of occurrence and importance of these behaviors for managers. Afterward, we took this information and created an assessment tool. 

Look at a few of the behaviors below that fall under each category of behaviors that we have identified. I have posed some questions to help you think about them. Identify just one behavior you could work on.

Appreciative Listening® Skills 

Appreciative Listening is the set of positive, active listening skills and attitudes, which allow a person to demonstrate meaningful actions that show how they respect and value another person and their contributions.

  • Distractions. Do you consistently put your smartphone away when recognizing someone? Are you in the habit of shutting your computer screen down when someone enters your office? In virtual meetings, do you refrain from doing other tasks?
  • Perceiver. Do you actively listen for the emotions and feelings behind people’s comments? Are you developing your ability to evaluate the emotional perception employees have towards work? Can you discern the emotional responses people give and ask about them in your one-on-ones with them?
  • Listener. Have you developed a good ear for interpreting people’s emotions from their tone of voice? Are you comfortable clarifying your perceptions with the employee? Do you listen carefully and attentively to what others are really saying?
  • Observer. What do you notice in the person’s workplace, in person or virtually, that helps identify personal interests? Do the insights and information you’ve got give you some ideas to give more personalized recognition? Are you aware of the person’s feeling about recognition preferences?

Recognition Talking® Skills

Recognition Talking is the set of positive communication and feedback skills, which shows that someone gives genuine and authentic praise and recognition to others through specific language, positive vocabulary, and the right tone of voice.

  • Expressive. Do you use a positive and expressive tone of voice when giving recognition? Are the words you use with recognition more of a positive connotation? Would people feel recognized through your vocal inflection and prosody of speech?
  • Specificity. Are you diligent in avoiding non-specific verbiage like “good job” or “well done”? Do you work hard at specifically recognizing the positive action or behavior? Would most people say that the feedback you give them is precise and meaningful?
  • Connector. Do you regularly tell people the difference their positive actions make on others? Are you able to connect the dots between people’s action you’re recognizing and the business strategy? Would your expressions of acknowledgment give greater purpose and meaning to people?
  • Name. Are you aware of the individual’s preferred name if different from their given name? If the name is not familiar in your language, do you know how to pronounce it correctly? Have you found out any personal requests or preferences about the employee’s name?

Praiseworthy Action® Skills 

Praiseworthy Actions is the set of positive behaviors and nonverbal skills by which someone can show that they care and appreciate other people.

  • Authenticity. Do you show sincerity and authenticity with recognition you give to people? Are you caring towards people? Would people say you are respectful and show authenticity?
  • Timeliness. Are you good at giving recognition to people in a timely manner? Do you connect with employees to learn of positive actions to recognize? If you missed recognizing right away do you still recognize the person and apologize?
  • Preferences. Have you found out the likes and dislikes of people for recognition? Do you know preferences for public versus private recognition? What insights have you gathered to give more meaningful appreciation?
  • Personalization. Do employees feel you show caring concern for them and their lives? Are you aware of their life experiences and overall wellbeing? What do you know about your employees’ families and personal needs? 

Rewarding Giving® Skills 

Rewarding Giving is the set of positive actions and familiarity with the personal preferences of those you work with that make your recognition expressions and actions more meaningful and effective.

  • Thoughtful. Do you take time to prepare carefully thought-out remarks when presenting awards? Will the award recipients feel honored and by what you say? How will the employee know you value them for their contributions? 
  • Prepared. Do you plan time in your calendar and work schedule to prepare for a presentation? Have you held an informal meeting with staff to find out their recognition preferences? Can you influence others to be more prepared when making award presentations?
  • Respectful. Are you able to differentiate the recognition needs of each employee? Do you know if each employee is comfortable with public recognition?  What will you do to accommodate employee anxieties or discomfort with public recognition?
  • Understanding. Have you learned the differences between recognition and rewards? Do you feel you give recognition or rewards the right way? Will people feel properly acknowledged by you for their positive contributions?

Acknowledging Intent® Attitudes 

Acknowledging Intent is the positive intention, attitude, and awareness of the importance and value of appreciation and recognition in the lives of employees and that you are giving recognition for the right reasons.

  • Informed. Are you studying research that shows the impact of recognition on people and performance? Do you feel you are open-minded to learning to give recognition for the benefit of employees? Have you seen evidence of how recognition improves relationships between people? 
  • Awareness. Do you know the business impact that recognition can have? Have you seen research findings showing the Return on Investment of recognition programs? Do you notice what happens to employees after they receive genuine recognition?
  • Confidence. Can you say you enjoy recognizing your employees? Do you feel you are confident in giving recognition to people? How do you work hard at building positive relationships with people? 
  • Believer. Do you believe that recognizing people is important? Can you believe that giving recognition to people today will impact future performance? Have you read research studies that show how recognition, or the lack of it, affects people and their work? 

Working On One Recognition Behavior

The list above with questions is to help you think about and identify specific recognition behaviors you might need to work on. 

See if you can pick twelve behaviors that you know you could do better at. Then assign each behavior to the next twelve months ahead.

Let’s say you picked being Thoughtful as one with your recognition behaviors. With four weeks in a month, you could schedule in a thoughtful action you will take with recognition. Calendar in your thoughtful action. You might even get adventurous and think of one staff member every other day to thank them by email or with a handwritten note. 

When a career milestone anniversary of an employee is coming up make time to write a few notes of what you are grateful to them for. Express those thoughts personally to them on their anniversary date. 

By breaking down these recognition skills into one thing you will work on and master you will become an amazing recognition giver. 

Recognition Reflection: Is there one recognition behavior you could master to give more meaningful recognition to your staff?

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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