Several years ago, Dr. Charles Scherbaum, our Chief Science Officer, and I assessed the various recognition behavioral practices associated with managers appraised as being great recognizers of staff.
We rounded up 40 behaviors that recognition experts in the field judged as being essential for managers to give meaningful and effective employee recognition.
I will give you insight into the top five behaviors that you need to encourage and reinforce happening in your organization.
As we examined these 40 behaviors, we conducted content validation on the ones we would use in a recognition assessment tool. We learned there was some natural grouping on these skills.
We categorized these behaviors and attitudes into five domains that I called Appreciative Listening®, Recognition Talking®, Praiseworthy Actions®, Rewarding Giving®, and Acknowledging Intent®.
Recognition Skills Categories
We respectively defined these five categories as:
Appreciative Listening® which is the set of positive, active listening skills and attitudes, which demonstrate someone respects and values another person and their contributions.
Recognition Talking® which is the set of positive communication and feedback skills, which demonstrate someone gives genuine and authentic praise and recognition to others.
Praiseworthy Actions® which is the set of positive actions and nonverbal skills by which someone shows they care and appreciate other people.
Rewarding Giving® which is the set of positive actions and familiarity with personal preferences that make any recognition given meaningful and effective.
Acknowledging Intent® which is the positive intention, attitude, and awareness of the importance and value of appreciation and recognition in the lives of employees.
Determining Most Important Recognition Practices
Our recognition experts, who assisted with the content validation, helped us rank order the most important recognition skills effective managers used. We asked them to rate how important they felt the behaviors were. They evaluated the level of impact these behaviors have on people and performance. They also gave ratings on how difficult it was to learn these behaviors.
We also asked how essential it was for managers to know each of these behaviors on day one of their role as a manager. The last task was to estimate the frequency that managers used these behaviors. This would approximate the levels expected for an effective recognizer and managers who are not effective recognizers.
The Final Results
The top 5 behaviors gleaned from this research suggest what the most important recognition practices are to encourage people to do.
Are you ready?
1. Under Appreciative Listening® the behavior that had the highest ranking was removing distractions. This means that recognition givers must put away distractions and pay attention to what people say, especially when they are recognizing others. Doing this behavior means you respect and value the recognition recipient enough to remove any obstacles or distractions.
2. With Recognition Talking® the leading behavior identified as most important was the appropriate tone of voice. Recognition givers should use an appropriate tone of voice when speaking to people, and especially when verbally expressing recognition. We can forget the nonverbal cues that add great meaning to what we say to people. Put some excitement and enthusiasm into your vocal tone when giving recognition.
3. Looking at Praiseworthy Actions® our research revealed that showing authenticity was critical to meaningful recognition. Our content validators identified the need for the nonverbal skill of demonstrating authenticity with giving recognition and praise to others.
4. With Rewarding Giving® they identified that great recognition givers accompanied tangible gifts with appreciation. They judged that proficient managers who give wonderful recognition ensure when giving a tangible gift or reward to always accompany it with words of appreciation, whether spoken or in written form. The key is to never give a tangible gift or reward with no recognition.
5. Under Acknowledging Intent® which addresses the attitudes needed when giving recognition, subject experts identified that great givers of recognition believe recognition impacts employee engagement and other metrics. Who would have thought that a person’s belief would affect the value associated with recognition? Nevertheless, it is true. It is important you know and believe that recognition impacts an employee’s engagement level and how this drives performance results.
What I like about this research is it removes any preconceived notions you might have about the most important recognition practices. Using objective research findings, you now have insight into some unique behaviors you likely have not focused on when recognizing others.
Of course, there are plenty of other behaviors under each of the five categories that are essential for giving incredible recognition. By starting with these top 5, you have a perspective that others may not have learned.
Make sure you teach others. It will elevate the level of recognition quality where you work.
Recognition Reflection: How do you ensure managers are implementing important recognition practices properly?
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.