You Shouldn’t Have To Convince A Leader About Recognition

I love this quote from Marcus Buckingham,

“Great managers don’t need to be reminded of the power of praise.”

I think he’s right.

In those organizations where recognition flourishes as a way of doing things, you will always find leaders who get it. They know the importance of recognition. They personally strive to practice giving effective and meaningful recognition. And they encourage everyone to be exemplary recognition givers.

Great Managers

 Buckingham tells us that great managers don’t need to be told about giving employees recognition. They just know.

But maybe we need to ask, what makes a great manager?

Google thought they would find out what makes a great manager in their company. They measured manager quality using two quantitative measures, namely, manager performance ratings and manager feedback from their annual employee survey.

Data from the survey clearly showed that teams with great managers were happier and more productive.

However, to find out what made managers great the research team analyzed open-ended comments from the employee survey along with manager performance evaluations. And to top it off, they even did double blind interviews with a group of the best and worst managers to find illustrative examples matching these common attributes. What they discovered was a commonality across the following ten areas – remember this is very Google specific.

  1. Is a good coach
  2. Empowers team and does not micromanage.
  3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being.
  4. Is productive and results oriented.
  5. Is a good communicator – listens and shares information.
  6. Supports career development and discusses performance.
  7. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team.
  8. Has key technical skills to help advise the team.
  9. Collaborates across Google.
  10. Is a strong decision maker.

You might want to consider analyzing similar results in your own organization as to what qualities make a great manager where you work.

Already Know

Great managers already know the importance of employee recognition and they consistently give it to as many deserving employees as they can.

Some leaders and managers, however, think they’re doing a better job with recognition giving than they really are.

An Office Team survey found that 89% of senior managers felt their organization did a good job at showing appreciation to employees. But when employees were asked 30% of them gave their companies low marks for the recognition they received.

Consider the classic Gallup survey results that say that only one-third of all employees receive recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days.

Great managers know what McKinsey consulting group has identified, that organizations with the most sophisticated recognition practices are 12 times more likely to have strong business outcomes.

In addition, Towers Watson showed where individual employees or teams are recognized their performance results were approximately 14% higher than in organizations where recognition wasn’t happening.

Praise Power

I find it fascinating when research, like the McKinsey study, shows praise and commendation from managers were rated the top motivator for performance, beating out other noncash and financial incentives, by a majority of workers (67%).

Yet, it’s still the case that when employees are asked what their leaders could do more of to improve employee engagement, 58% of respondents replied, ‘Give recognition.’

To practice better praise and recognition on the job, there are four things that need to be in place to address leadership involvement.

  1. Focus on the desired results or business impact that recognition giving will have on elevating employee engagement and customer satisfaction scores.
  2. Build in accountability for everyone with giving effective and meaningful recognition. If you don’t hold managers accountable there will be no grassroots level commitment to recognition either.
  3. Personal commitment by senior leaders to be more exemplary with their own actions. Work hard at honoring, praising, recognizing, and celebrating personal accomplishments, and the effort and contributions people make.
  4. Support for ongoing measurement of how well managers are doing with giving recognition. Not just from the usage of existing online recognition and reward programs, but also with pulse checks of employee perceptions of recognition equity and effectiveness.

Recognition Reflections: Do you have to convince leaders and managers of the power of praising employees?

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.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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