Learning how to give meaningful and effective recognition to people requires awareness of the attitudes and behaviors needed to give recognition that resonates with people.
While there are plenty of regular practices you can implement to improve recognition giving, here are a few that get neglected or people are totally unaware of.
Try out at least one of these in the coming week.
Appreciate Your Self
I concluded several years ago that you have to see your own value and worth first, before you can ever see the inherent worth of another individual. The ability to value one’s self is an essential attribute to develop so you can positively affect others and give them the recognition they deserve.
Too often people lack self-confidence and belief in their own abilities. This tendency inhibits people who have low self-worth or low self-esteem to recognize others. Unfortunately, they negatively appraise the splendid work they do so well and then become blind to the wonderful things going on around them from their peers.
Here are some things you can do to better appreciate yourself in order to recognize another person:
- In your next staff meeting, whether together or virtually, select one person to highlight and have each person in the meeting send the host of the meeting positive comments about that individual. People can share things they admire and appreciate about them or express recognition for things the person does. Write up these comments and send them to the spotlight person, and if permitted by the recipient, you can read them out in the meeting. Rinse and repeat.
- Reframe and rephrase any comments you make about yourself that are negative in nature. When you make a mistake, which we all do since we are human, instead of putting yourself down use positive self-talk. Say phrases in your head or out loud, “That’s not like me. I know I can do better. Next time I will.”
Think Of Others
It’s the golden rule of interpersonal relations that you should think of other people in the same positive way you think of yourself. So, now that you are thinking better about yourself and the great things you do, this should become a lot easier to you.
By keeping a healthy appraisal of one’s own worth allows you to see the worth and potential in others. In fact, it becomes fun to notice the wonderful things going on around you by peers and managers, and to comment about them.
In your interactions with colleagues and managers, you will see or hear what people are doing. Or they will help you with a job task or information that you need. Any of these events deserves acknowledgment or thanks.
Some ways to think more about others:
- It is amazing when you stop and ponder on the lives of people you work with what comes to mind. A week ago, I realized one of our company’s IT people was being bombarded with all kinds of requests that must have been overwhelming. They are not under my responsibility, but I felt to let them know by email that I was concerned for them and was thinking about them. I could not take away their work problem, but I told them to take care and take a deep breath. I got an email back immediately saying that I had made their day. Who could you communicate some care and concern to?
- At the end of the workday, you can also stop and reflect. Was there someone who made a difference to your life at work? Did you miss thanking anyone because of the busyness of the day? Go onto your online recognition program and send an ecard or email of gratitude to a staff member you missed recognizing. Or perhaps surprise someone with a handwritten thank-you card and mail it to their home.
Choose Words Carefully
Recognition comes in different ways but is always accompanied by words, whether spoken or written. You may receive them via email, text, ecards, face-to-face, video or audio. The medium of recognition varies, but words are always the source.
Learn to understand the differences between denotative meaning and connotative meaning of words and create a positive vocabulary list of words to use and upgrade your recognition with them.
Denotative meaning is the direct or literal meaning of a word as you would expect if you were looking it up in a dictionary, for example. Contrast that with connotative meaning, which is the additional and associative meaning for a word apart from its explicit meaning.
For example, the denotative meaning of the word “home” is, “a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.” But looking at the connotative or associated meaning of the word, for some people, you might elicit “a place of warmth, comfort, and affection.”
That’s why with long-time, overused expressions, like “good job” or “well done,” I am trying to ban their use and get people to use more positive connotative expressions.
There are positive words, neutral words, and negative words. I would consider amazing a positive word, good is neutral, and awful, like it sounds, is negative. Saying something is “good” is neutral or lukewarm.
Similarly, the word “job” is blasé and mundane. Get right down to the details of what a person did and specifically describe what was amazing that stood out for you. Putting those kinds of thoughts into your recognition will stand out for them.
Start using better word choice by using more positive and descriptive words in the recognition you give to people.
Seek Employees Out
There is a harsh reality that fewer employees are getting recognized right now in our virtual work from home world that many of us live in. And that is a shame and should not be the case. We have the tools and resources to connect, but we are just not connecting with one other the right way often enough.
You can give better and more frequent recognition to peers, bosses, and associates by reaching out and connecting with people, and help them feel like they belong.
This is how you can seek employees out and give better quality recognition to them:
- Set a goal for the number of times you plan to interact with each of your employees in a week. You can vary the method of how you will connect. Just make sure one time each month is a literal, physically distanced, or virtual video conference conversation.
- By creating an active plan to raise the number of interactions you have with staff, you increase the opportunity to hear of more positive behaviors, personal effort, and contributions that people make.
- And, the more knowledgeable you are of employee behaviors and achievements that you hear about, you’ll have more things to recognize them for.
Send Video Messages
After all the recognition programs that exist, it is still the personal recognition practices that we do that makes the biggest difference in how well recognized employees feel.
The most meaningful recognition is, and always will be, face-to-face recognition in person expressed meaningfully.
But it seems we don’t have many opportunities to do that in our busy days and in our increasing virtual workplaces.
Think about most recognition programs. Most of them are plain text using ecards and allowing comments on a social recognition newsfeed.
What can you do to replicate the in person, face-to-face recognition that means so much to people? Here are some suggestions:
- Use smartphone texting so in the message app click on your camera app and then choose Video. Record your recognition message and when done send the video. Naturally, this requires you to have an employee’s mobile telephone number on your phone.
- You can also use proprietary video-based tools like BombBomb or Bonjoro, which are intended for customer relationship building but can easily be adapted to employee experience building. This allows you to use the same video messaging idea, but now you can send it by email instead of by text.
- Hopefully, your vendor provided recognition programs also gives you the option to send video-based recognition messages through your systems and not solely rely on plain text messaging.
Ask Manager Input
I was speaking with some colleagues this morning about the challenges of recognizing nurses. A charge nurse is in their office or at the nursing floor station and rarely sees what a Registered or Licensed Practical Nurse does in serving their patients. Nurses are more likely to get recognition directly from the patient or their families because their supervisor or manager will never see what they do.
You cannot pretend to be everywhere to see or hear about the amazing things that go on at work by your employees.
But you can solicit input from your direct reports to find out what their employees are doing well that merits praise and recognition. You probably have weekly meetings with your direct reports. Put on your recurring agenda the need to hear of the great things that staff do that you can send recognition about.
Now use whatever method of recognition seems best to you to recognize the employees commended by their supervisors and managers. This will make a tremendous difference to your employees that their immediate supervisor is sharing what employees are doing well with the boss above their supervisor.
Put just one of these ideas into your weekly plan and become more proficient at giving better recognition to employees.
Recognition Reflection: What is one new thing you can do to give better recognition this week?
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.