How good are you at giving recognition? Do you feel like your attempts to praise and acknowledge people are hitting the mark?
Maybe you are already good at appreciating people for who they are and recognizing them for what they do.
Each of us will be naturals at recognizing people or have a lot of things still to learn. But what is good for those of you, who feel they are not so confident or competent at giving recognition, is that recognition is a learned behavior. Phew! We all have a chance at getting better at this skill, which is a highly ranked need of employees.
Consider your own strengths and weaknesses in giving meaningful and effective recognition. Do you know what you do well? Where should you begin?
Why We Have Difficulties Giving Recognition
Why do some of us have difficulties knowing how to express appreciation or gratitude to people for what they do?
First off, you might not have received much praise or recognition at home from your parents. I know that was my case. I grew up in in England, and the British culture then was not exactly warm and fuzzy. I never heard the words I love you at home from my parents–that’s just the way it was back then. No wonder I had to learn how to give recognition and how to say, “I love you,” to my wife.
Then there’s school and whether you were academically or athletically inclined. Either arena provides opportunities to excel and put on a pedestal. Awards and recognition give one a sense of worth. But what if you’re mediocre at academics and lacked athletic abilities? Perhaps you won no acclaim in math or literature and you couldn’t run or throw a ball far enough in the right direction. No recognition for you!
Finally, you arrive on the work scene and along your career timeline you’re promoted to a supervisor or manager position. Now, you are expected to recognize employees and help them feel valued and engaged. Difficult things to do if you’ve never received recognition along the way of life or you don’t know how to give it.
Check Out These Self-Awareness Strategies
The place to start with identifying your strengths and weaknesses with recognition giving is in conducting an honest self-appraisal. This is an internal awareness process. Consider answering the following questions and write your answers to them.
- How frequently do you think you recognize each of your staff members or the colleagues you work with?
- Do you think your employees or peers would consider the recognition you give them as meaningful and effective?
- What impact do you think your expressions of recognition have on people?
- Are you reflecting the presence or lack of recognition you receive with the recognition you give to those around you?
- Would your staff or the peers you work with say you are a great recognizer of people based on the recognition you typically give to people?
- Is there one area in expressing appreciation and acknowledging people for their contributions you feel you are exceptional at? Is there one area you could improve at?
Now Ask the People You Work With
Now work with those self-awareness questions and turn them into inquiries to ask your staff and peers about their perceptions of your recognition giving. This is an external awareness process. Sit down with them and tell them why you want to get better at recognition giving and that you need their help. For example, ask them:
- How often do you think I recognize you for the great work you do?
- Do you feel that the recognition I give you is meaningful and effective?
- How does the recognition I give you impact you and your work?
- What words come to mind describing the recognition I give to you?
- On a five-point scale with 1 being Poor and 5 being Great, what number best defines the recognition I typically give people?
- In what area am I exceptional at recognition giving? What recognition area do I specifically need to improve in?
- How could I maximize my strengths in recognizing people?
Now you have something to compare your personal awareness results against. Examine carefully what employees and peers have told you. This feedback will be gold for you and the seed for your recognition development plan.
How To Make a Change Today!
Personal development is not necessarily easy to do. Denial can blind you to your weaknesses. You might procrastinate and let other things take priority in your life. More reflection and introspection and writing down answers to these questions will help move you towards changing.
- How have you already tried to get better at recognizing people?
- With the recognition strengths you have how could you help others learn what you have?
- What was the number one area that staff and peers gave in their feedback you need to work on?
- Were there any patterns with the strengths that people identified?
- How can you start your day off on a more grateful level of thinking?
- What is one thing you can do each day this week to focus your efforts on giving better recognition to those you work with?
- Think about what has stopped you from changing in the past. What resources, education, training, mentoring, or coaching, do you need to help you give better recognition?
Create a Recognition Skills Action Plan
Nothing changes with recognition giving until you accept responsibility and make a plan to change. Draft a written Recognition Skills Action Plan. Consider the small steps you could take to improve upon your recognition practices. Answer these questions to help guide you in creating your action plan.
- If you could make recognition giving easier and better in the next 30-days, what would you do or take action on?
- How will your relationships with staff and peers improve if you step up your recognition giving in the next 30-days?
- How do you want to feel after making recognition more meaningful and effective for those you work with?
- What is the minimum daily commitment you could make that would produce the biggest difference with your recognition giving?
- If not now, when will you change and give more meaningful and effective recognition and appreciation to people?
Assessing your recognition strengths and weakness is the beginning to giving the recognition your employees and peers deserve.
Recognition Reflection: How will you maximize your strengths and manage your weaknesses in giving meaningful and effective recognition?
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.