It’s easy to forget that the people we work with do not necessarily need the same amount or type of recognition as the person next to them does.
Recognition is not a cookie cutter formula. How you like to be recognized will not be the same for me, for example. You should make time to find out what each of your colleagues and employees likes, and dislikes, around their desired recognition preference.
Which also begs the question to discover what everyone likes to be recognized for.
Some people have a greater need for validation of their individual worth and their job performance than others do. You will find this is often the case for new and younger employees. The need for recognition will typically reduce as one matures and is longer in a company.
But perhaps you’ve fallen into the default mode of recognizing absolutely everyone whenever they put forth an extra effort or achieve something significant. Were your attempts at giving recognition really valued and appreciated by each individual?
Further Personalization of Recognition
For this level of personalized recognition, you want to find out what type of work accomplishments and/or contributions each employee would really appreciate being recognized for by their manager or supervisor.
Think about high performing employees. They will see the quality of what they do as more important than simply completing a task. They will want to be acknowledged for the extra work or leadership roles they take on. Enrolling them in an emerging leaders program that you offer can recognize them for such behaviors more than verbal acknowledgment.
Employees who have taken specialized training and education and are identified as professionals, like academic professors, medical doctors, etc., typically do not relate well to the more regular types of recognition or recognition programs. I refer to the type of recognition that means the most to them as the Prestige and Pedestal Effect.
I have outlined the ideas of these principles for you to consider in a previous post.
Learning Through Regular Feedback Meetings
Holding just one meeting to ask about this type of preference from an employee won’t cut it. Frequent feedback meetings will help you to know what employees want to be recognized for.
You need to have regular, one-on-one sessions, with your employees to identify the type of work that triggers a need for recognition. I highly recommend this practice be instituted in all organizations. Encourage your managers to schedule in at least monthly one-on-one meetings – even if they’re only for 15 minutes each time. Suggest they make these feedback meetings a two-way process. Then you can learn and discover from each other what you’re working on and what is important to each of you.
For example, you will quickly learn exactly what they are working on, what they are most motivated about in their work, the challenges they have, and where they need support, resources, or specific training. This could lead to giving approval for training, needed tools, or change in work assignments.
Share with them what you are going through, what keeps you awake at night, and what you’re excited about. You will find your employees having greater empathy for the work you do as you share your experiences. And, you’ll likely receive recognition from the employees at the right time because they know you better.
It is nice to see email updates from employees or written status reports. But you can’t pick up on the emotional passion, or stifling boredom, associated with specific job tasks, until you personally meet employees face-to-face – or at a minimum on the phone or video conferencing.
Find out from each of your employees, or have your managers find out, in your regular one-on-one meetings, answers to the following questions to better understand their recognition needs. You want to learn what it is they want to be recognized for.
First, what is there preference for who they want to be recognized by?
- Does it matter to you if just your manager recognizes you?
- Do you feel leaders should acknowledge you from elsewhere in the company?
- Are your work peers a positive source of recognition for you?
- Do the customers you serve, whether internal or external, take time to thank you for the work you do?
Then there’s knowing exactly what employees want to be recognized for.
- Does your manager, or the leaders they report to, know the importance or significance of the work you are doing?
- Do you feel you have been producing exceptional work results?
- Has your work role changed recently so that your manager doesn’t know what you’re doing?
- Are you feeling alone or disconnected as a remote employee and thereby see yourself as being unappreciated?
- Do you think that your positive efforts are rarely observed and therefore not recognized?
- Has the hard work you’ve been doing for the company recently been appropriately recognized?
- At what point do you feel that your manager should acknowledge your accomplishments?
- What challenges have you overcome that you are most proud of?
- What is the most important achievement you have reached while working with us?
- What would you personally like to be known for at our company?
- Knowing what you are working on right now, what would you like to be recognized for in the near future?
- When, where, and how, do you like to be recognized for the kinds of things you have shared with me?
Discovering this recognition need of employees opens up a whole new source of reasons for what to recognize them for.
Recognition Reflection: How well do you know what each of your employees likes to be recognized for?
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.