Just last week I had an interesting discussion with a CEO and CNO about how they do recognition. Both of them are active in their rounding efforts and very visible in their organization. They do a great job of celebrating success in a public way that make people in the department feel great about their success. But most of the stories they shared were perfect examples of celebration not recognition. I make the distinction between the two like this: celebration is for the whole group, whereas recognition is for the individual. There are places for both in every organization but it is important to distinguish the two.
Recognition is an important part of the manager/employee relationship. It is commonly evaluated on the employee engagement surveys and highly correlated with engagement. I find that in some organizations, the senior leaders do a great job of creating the hoopla and bringing treats for the whole gang, but don’t take the individual recognition to the level it deserves. Because it is hard for senior leaders to do the actual one-on-one recognition, the senior leader’s role is to ensure that the manager knows how to give recognition and has the resources to do so on a regular basis. For example, if you expect regular thank you notes to be written, provide a budget for the managers to purchase a supply of nice notes rather than the corporate logo fare from materials management. Ask your managers how they like to give recognition and find out if they have the resources needed to be successful at giving the type of recognition they find most meaningful. I have heard dozens of times from managers who spend their own money to buy little rewards for staff because there isn’t money in their budget for recognition.
Be supportive of the manager’s recognition goals and style. When you provide them with the tools they need, they’ll be more successful and everyone wins.