How To Provide More Recognition At Work

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You don’t have to go to many management or leadership classes to learn that more positive feedback is something that all leaders should be using to motivate their team and encourage them to hit even more ambitious goals.

But why don’t leaders give more positive recognition?

The number one reason is, when things are busy you don’t tend to take the time to acknowledge the progress or the good things that you see around you. Secondly, many leaders feel that people are just doing their job and that getting paid is more than enough recognition.

It’s disrespectful because some employees give their bare minimum and others really crank it up. If you acknowledge the contributions that people make, it will sustain performance at a higher level. The third reason leaders don’t give enough recognition is that most are so focused on what’s going wrong, they don’t see what’s going right.

I’ve asked training workshop participants, “In a typical day or typical week, how much actually goes according to plan?” They will typically respond with, Well, maybe only 50-75% is going well.” Now in truth, if only 50 to 60% of things were going well, your company would be broke, insolvent, out of business. Right?

When you look at it, 97% of everything is like going well for a typical company on any given day. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be shipping product to your customers. You wouldn’t even have customers anymore. In one company, their scrap budget percentage was 3%. And they were under budget. That means more than 97% of their product is meeting the customer specifications.

As a leader, you tend to focus on mistakes, but in reality, so much is going well on a typical day. Here is how you can provide more recognition at work: it really boils down to just two simple concepts.

See it and say it.

Let’s talk about ‘see it’ for a moment. I led a group through an exercise recently, I said, “In the last year, your team has probably performed better in certain areas than they did the previous year. Where have you made some positive progress in your department? Have you acknowledged that with your team? In the last 48 hours, someone on your team stepped up, did something a little extra, chipped in, or solved a problem. Did you acknowledge that individual for their contribution? Has there been a person on your team who has changed their behavior in a positive way? Has there been somebody that stepped up and helped a co-worker? Or, is there a new person on your team who seems to really be mastering some of the necessary skills, and maybe exceeding your expectations?”

Notice the good things going on around you and then make sure you acknowledge that on an individual and consistent basis. Share on X

These are all fabulous opportunities to provide positive feedback, and people feel good when they receive it. Not only do they feel good towards you as the leader, they even go home feeling good about their work.

The second part is ‘saying’ the positive feedback. A lot of leaders stumble at this point because they think, “How do I tell somebody they’re doing a good job?” I’m not suggesting that you go into cheerleader mode, with pom poms,”Yay you!” There are some people who like that approach, but most of us would rather a more understated and personalized acknowledgment of the work that we do.

Here are a few tips for delivering positive feedback:

First of all, tell the person, and acknowledging what they did. “Hey, I really wanted to say thank you for stepping up and helping us, working extra hours, and completing that project assignment.” That’s providing very specific feedback. The generic, “Good job everybody,” is like feeding a starving person cotton candy. The first bag is nice but the third bag makes you nauseous. So, be specific when you tell somebody when they’ve done a good job.

The second step is to tell them how what they did made an impact.When you looked after that customer situation in a way that truly impressed the client. I think they’re going to keep buying from us. You really helped turn that situation around!” Now you’ve told them what they’ve done and how it impacts the big picture.

The last part is really simple. Just say, “Thank you. I really appreciate it.” Truth be told, there are many people who don’t know how to accept feedback and it’s a personal peeve of mine when you say, “Thanks for taking care of that,” and the person replies with, “No problem. I was just doing my job.”

Since people often deflect praise, just go an extra half a step. Say, “No, I really want you to know how important it was to me that you handled the situation the way you did. So, thanks for taking care of that.” And by the way, if you’re on the receiving end of some positive feedback, instead of saying, “No big deal. Just doing my job.” Why not just say, “You’re welcome,” or, “Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it.” This demonstrates that you’re hearing the feedback and you are acknowledging their positive comments rather than deflecting it away.

Notice the good things going on around you and then make sure you deliver that on an individual basis. It doesn’t hurt to do team-based praise, but it’s really powerful when you deliver it one-on-one.

As a leader, what are some positive things that you can acknowledge right now? Let me know in the comments.