Telling People The Difference Their Actions Make Is Important

In life, I strive for a basic level of minimalism. I still have a lot of things, but I continually get rid of some things I no longer need or use so I can focus more on what’s most important to me­—such as family, friends, joy, and freedom. Minimalism can make a real difference.

However, when expressing recognition to the people you and I work with, there is no need for minimalism with how you communicate your praise and appreciation to them. That means, as I have said before, that those meaningless, short phrases like “good job” and “well done,” don’t work. 

If you’re still using them, you’ve gone too far with decluttering your recognition messaging. 

This post is all about showing you the importance of telling people the difference their positive actions make on others. 

Getting Down To Details 

Okay, I know that not everyone says their recognition with just two words. If you’re still stuck with the habit of saying them, make sure you continue on and tell people what they did. 

I am pleased to say that many people are telling the person they are recognizing exactly what it is they appreciate about them and their work. They key is getting down to the details and being specific about the positive behaviors demonstrated, the personal effort displayed, and the contributions the individual made. 

This is the ACTION part of using my Two-Part Specificity Rule™. When giving people recognition, tell them specifically what the action was that impressed you that you want to acknowledge them for.

It’s the Difference That Makes the Difference 

So, you would think that if you told someone exactly what it was you were recognizing them for that you were good to go. You’ve eliminated the trite two word attempts at recognition and improved your recognition expressions. 

This can still be a problem if you haven’t typically been good at giving more detailed recognition expressions.

Employees have told me they question why the person has changed. They are not sure what is going on. Staff are questioning the intention behind the recognition. Is it because they are buttering the employee up before asking them to do another task? 

It’s true! 

When all you do is describe the action in your recognition, there will be some employees who will question the sincerity behind the words. This is especially the case if you do not have an established positive relationship with employees. 

That’s why it is essential to also use the IMPACT part of the Two-Part Specificity Rule™. 

The second part of this simple formula for giving recognition to people is to tell them the impact their positive actions and performance had on other people. When employees know their actions made a difference to people, the reaction to the recognition given to them totally changes. 

Why is this?

First off, hearing how their actions actually affected people positively can be quite a surprise. I catch employees doing the best job they can and they never realize the meaning their work has on others. They will actually tell you this if you explore this with them. 

Second, you have broken any biases they may have towards your recognition because they realize, now, that your intentions are genuine. There is no pretense or secret agenda behind your recognition. It’s for real! 

Third, you’ve connected with the person beyond any work or accomplishment they have done. The first part of your recognition expression, the ACTION, is all about what they did. This second part we are referring to, the IMPACT, is all about them! It’s telling them the unique contribution they have made beyond just doing their job. You are telling them their work has meaning and that it made a difference in the lives of others. 

That’s pretty cool! 

What Managers and Employees Say 

When I have conducted workshops and had everyone role play and learn how to use the Two-Part Specificity Rule™, managers and employees alike all say the same thing when using the IMPACT part of the process.

  • “It sounds authentic.”
  • “The recognition felt good.” 
  • “Never realized I made a difference to people.”
  • “I believe them.” 

So, please keep in mind that telling people the difference their positive actions made on others, makes all the difference between giving authentic and ineffective recognition. And it changes people’s lives for the better, too. 

Recognition Reflection: How are you helping managers and employees give better and more meaningful recognition to people? 

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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