Recognition itself depends solely on valuing people first before you can ever value anything they actually do.
Let me illustrate what I mean with this with an experience I had a few years back while working in Bangalore, India.
I was doing some recognition consulting work for a major global company. We were on the 12th floor of a regular office building and I was meeting with our hosts in the boardroom of their Indian corporate head office.
My client hosts were facing towards me and I was facing them with the window behind them. I couldn’t help but see something that was going on across the way through the large glass window.
It seems a new hotel was being built for a major hotel chain across the way. The concrete framing of the building appeared to be completed and I could see some men working.
What I am about to describe will help you question the intent and purpose of employee recognition where you work.
What Is The Worth Of An Employee?
In North American construction we are used to seeing secured, double columns of metal scaffolding with metal or wooden flooring for each level. This was not the case with what I was seeing. In fact, the situation I saw was just a single column and rows of bamboo poles tied together like a garden lattice frame all the way up the outside of the building.
To make things seem even worse, I saw two or three men painting away on the relief concrete work of the future hotel windows. They held on to those single bamboo poles with one hand and standing on one foot they stretched out their other arm and hand out to paint the concrete forms.
I was aghast as I processed what I was seeing.
The stunned reaction on my face must have been apparent to my hosts. They asked me, “Is anything wrong, Roy?”
How do you carefully answer such a question without offending your hosts in another country?
I responded as diplomatically as I could at the spur of the moment, and said, “I am looking at the apparent lack of safety across the way.”
My hosts all made a fleeting glance over their shoulders to look across the way at the scene I had described. One of the leaders commented, “You have to understand, Roy, there are so many people in India that if one person dies there is always another person to take their place.” And with that simple statement the meeting continued.
This still bothered me.
How Socio-Economic Factors Affect Recognition
I reflected later on this scenario and continue to do so even today. If we do not value the infinite worth of an individual and their life, can we ever really fully appreciate them for who they are and recognize them for what they do?
I do not minimize the harsh realities of the socio-economic circumstances of many similar countries on our planet.
Perhaps we can change beliefs and feelings about recognition in the world by rallying around a universal statement of worth of each human being and the contributions they each can make.
Question yourself on how you value the people you work with. What value do you place on the people in your community? You can go even further and question how well you value your significant other and family members at home.
It is interesting that the company I was dealing with had a hard time shifting from rewards, compensation and benefits to intrinsic motivation, appreciation and recognition. Meeting Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was ever present in this geographic region.
To challenge these attitudes I ask you to reflect on how your own perspective of the worth of people influences the appreciation and recognition you give to people.
When you give high value to the worth of people around you and you will naturally give magnificent recognition!
Q: What is the real value leaders place on employees in your organization?
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.