“The power of recognition is one of the strongest forces for simulating human and social action.” – Lowell Milken  

Who doesn’t enjoy being recognized?   

 People and organizations have grown to expect the recognition of big accomplishments – the projects executed, the big hairy issue resolved.  Recognition is not just a one-time event.  Here is another reality – recognizing the bodacious events without consistent appreciation throughout the year diminishes the value of the recognition.   

 How about the little day to day accomplishments, the delivery of a needed report without having asked,  stepping up and out of your comfort zone when a peer is out of the office?  We may only have the opportunity to be the hero once or twice a year, whereas every day efforts go unrecognized regularly.   

 Recognition is best served when it is built into your culture and reinforced across the organization all year long organically.   

 Why is recognition important?    

 Easy – increased employee job satisfaction by showing that you care.  

 Studies have shown that employees recognized once a month will drive a 75% job satisfaction rate.  Whereas, job satisfaction will soar to 85% when employees and team members are recognized weekly.  Every employee appreciates being recognized for their hard work and extra effort. 

As the leader, you can’t be the only noticing, and recognition is not just a one-time event.  To be effective, it should be built into your culture and reinforced naturally across the organization.  Think about what success looks like for your organization.  Do you want to tie it to engagement, customer satisfaction, or business results? Perhaps any of the three?  

 Where do I start?    

 Start by leveraging the one-time events to begin recognizing employee efforts and accelerating recognition. The one-time events will become more meaningful because they reinforce the desired behaviors and commitments.  At the same time, increase consistent recognition.  It is what everyone craves, and it will drive increased job satisfaction.   

 You can approach consistent recognition in two ways: 

  • Commit to start and then do it. Everyday! 
  • Ask you employees for feedback to help guide the type and timing of recognition they’d like to receive.  If you ask, be prepared to act! 

 Whichever approach you chose to take, consistency is critical. Leaders who regularly recognize their employees set an example for the rest of the organization. Their actions will set behavior changes in motion.  Positive behavior begets positive behavior. (Yes, negative behavior begets negative behaviors as well.) 

 How do I go about adopting the giving of recognition as a habit? 

 Like any habit it will take effort to adopt a new habit – 66 days to be exact.  That means it will take some practice before it becomes natural.  One way to make something a habit is to set a reminder each morning – “Look for someone doing something extraordinary today” and then at the end of day “Who did I recognize today”.  

It seems so trivial, but you will find it works.  

 What will sustain the habit and build the culture 

 There are two parts of that will work together to make recognition self-sustaining.   

  • The first and strongest is the creation of a culture of recognition, consistently reinforced by everyone’s behavior and habits towards recognizing contributions from others.  Recognition must start at the top if it to have a chance at growing roots.  Many employee recognition programs give managers the exclusive responsibility and ability to recognize employees. With an average manager to employee ration of 1:10, giving recognition every day to every employee would be a daunting task.   

 To sustain, recognition must move to peers recognizing peers.  Peer recognition is the genuine expression of appreciation exchanged between co-workers. Peer recognition gives employees an outlet to share feedback, praise, and thanks with each other.   

  • The second part is the adoption of a simple tool to enable communication between peers. Make it fun and make it alive.  One program that I saw work very effectively was called “IT Star”.  An employee would honor another employee by simply writing out a note of appreciation on a star shape form.  They would hand it in to the admin, she would track and post the star on a glass wall.  At the end of the month, there was a drawing for $25-dollar Amazon card along with bagels. It was fun, low cost, and returned rewards many times over the effort and budget.   

 Simple tools can be utilized to enable the recognition communications.  As you can imagine, this increased communication leads to an amazing cultural boost and an environment where your team loves to work.  

 What ideas / techniques have you seen work to drive a culture of recognition?  

 Until next time, have an effective week!   To further this week’s conversation, schedule time with me and let’s talk! 

 Check it out:   Architecting the Technical People Leader – a six-month based virtual learning opportunity for a small group of IT managers kicking off Feb 14, 2019. Limited seating is still available.  Learn more…. 


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