Good managers remember to recognize employees. Great managers do it every day.
It’s not even debatable anymore. Study after study makes it perfectly clear that employee recognition is critical. In fact nothing seems to be more important and more motivating than recognition.
National Underwriters discovered that when they surveyed more than 200 managers. Recognition for “a job well done” out-rated money and challenge. On a scale of 1 to 6, their respondents gave recognition a 4.9 on the scale of importance, money 4.8, and challenging work 4.3.
In a 1999 Wichita State University survey, employees rated a manager’s “thanks” as THE MOST motivational incentive of all. Unfortunately, 58% of the employees said they rarely received a personal thank you.
Even more conclusive, The Gallup organization studied more than 80,000 managers in 400 companies. They wanted to determine what keeps a company’s BEST PEOPLE satisfied. Galup came up with 12 factors, 3 of which related to recognition: 1) “In the last 7 days, have you received recognition or praise for a job well done?” 2) “Does your supervisor seem to care about you as a person?” and 3) “Is there someone at work who encourages your development?”
Of course, most managers say they already know this. They say they know how important recognition is. But I doubt it.
If managers REALLY understood how important recognition is, then you wouldn’t hear the number one employee complaint over and over again. And, of course, you know what that is. Employees say, “You can do a hundred things right and not hear a darn thing about it. You do one thing wrong, and they’re right on your back.”
That makes me wonder. Why do so few managers do a truly outstanding job of recognizing their employees? Perhaps they’re from the “old school” that thinks people will get soft if they get recognized.
I know that sounds strange, but there are a lot of people who think that way. They think that expressed admiration of their children, spouses, friends, and coworkers will make them lazy. So their way of “encouraging” others is to take the attitude that nothing is ever good enough.
Baseball manager Casey Stengel tried that approach on Joe Garagiola one time. Casey said, “Joe, when they list all the great catchers, you’ll be there–listening.”
And one manager and salesperson stood looking at a map on which colored pins indicated the company representative in each area. The manager said, “I’m not going to fire you, Sherman, but I’m loosening your pin a bit just to emphasize the insecurity of your situation.”
One of my seminar participants said her mother used that same approach–demeaning rather than recognizing. She told me she worked and worked for several years to do well in her classes at the university. In fact, she did so well that she made it into a highly prestigious honor society. But her mother said, “I used to think it was a big deal to make Phi Beta Kappa — until you got it.”
Marcus reported a similar story. He said that was his parents’ approach to “recognition.” He said if he took out the garbage, his mother would tell him, “It’s about time you helped around the house.” If he got all A’s and one B on his report card, his father would ask, “What did you do wrong to get the B?”
Marcus continued. He said as a little child he really tried to please his Dad, to get his Dad’s recognition. So one time he tried to keep his shoes in shape so they lasted a record six months. When he proudly showed them to his father, instead of praising him, his father pulled out a pair of shoes he bought 20 years before and said, “Beat that.”
There’s a recognition problem in too many organizations. As a result, some people are demoralized while others are demotivated. The demoralized ones say, “Nobody notices what I do…until I don’t do it.” And the demotivated ones are giving less than their full potential. As George Carlin said, “Most people work just hard enough to not get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.”
Well, all of that can be changed. It’s one of the things I emphasize in my program, “Peak Performance: Motivating the Best In Others.” It’s a program you should look into. You can release and inspire amazing performance when you know how to recognize employees and team members.
But let me warn you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking any praise is good praise. Some managers think that handing out indiscriminate praise is better than no praise at all. They’re wrong.
If you hand out praise the wrong way, at the wrong time or for the wrong reasons, it can do more harm than good. You’ve got to do it right.
That will be the subject of next week’s “Tuesday Tip.” I’ll give you several recognition principles. And the week after that, I’ll give you a large variety of recognition techniques. Don’t miss them. You’ll be able to use all of them at work, at home, and everywhere.
Action: When it comes to recognition, what would people say about you? Would they say you’re sincere, effective, and encouraging? Would they say they get all the recognition they need and deserve from you so they’re equipped to do their very best? If not, you need to give this aspect of your management style a bit more thought and attention this week