We all like a pat on the back now and then. It not only feels good to be appreciated, but it helps validate that we are on the right track. The problem is; many leaders honestly don’t know how to give recognition. They confuse it with celebrations or worse; do it because they have to. One of the best examples is the “employee of the month.”
During our culture assessments, we conduct focus groups with employees. Part of our discussion is to drill down on their perceptions of recognition within the organization. More often than not, they will say that they prefer a personal thank you from their immediate supervisor. They tell us that they just want to feel appreciated and validated that their boss sees their hard work. Many times, the focus group participants will talk at length about what they want in the way of recognition without once mentioning the employee-of-the-month program. Which, by the way, their leaders have touted as an effective recognition method.
When we ask employees, “What about the employee of the month program?” The question is almost always met with snickering and eye rolling. The employees consistently tell us that the programs are a not respected. In fact, most don’t even make the connection between recognition and the employee of the month program. So why is it still so common to have these programs? It’s always been done this way.
Find out how your employees like to be recognized. Make it personal to them. My rule of thumb is that it should be prompt, personal, and plentiful. Follow those three guidelines with intentionality and you will see a shift.