Recognition That Motivates: 3 Must-Have Components

Posted by David Grossman on Mon, Jan 08, 2018


When thinking about employee communications, one of the first things that often comes to mind is channels for conveying messages and mechanisms for gathering feedback. That said, how might employee recognition help you drive further engagement on your team?

Whether a formal award or a simple pat on the back, recognition can be a powerful tool in your communication arsenal. By showing appreciation and communicating a job well done in specific ways, you can enhance team performance and motivate employees to take their work to the next level. 

Four Questions to Consider 

Recognition can take many forms, so start by asking yourself: 

1. What’s a critical behavior you want to see more of? Is there a strategic priority for the company that could be reinforced? Or a company value that needs highlighting to strengthen its role in the organizational culture?

At the heart of recognition, we want to make employees feel appreciated, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also tie-in the bigger organizational picture. Think about your goals and the company strategic framework to decide if there’s a concept from which you could build your recognition around and simultaneously reinforce a core message. It’s often said that what gets measured is what gets done – that’s true for recognition, too: what gets rewarded is what you’ll most likely see more of.

2. Is there a specific time of year that team members are called upon to meet heightened demand and could benefit from extra acknowledgement of that hard work?

This would be in addition to a steady drumbeat of recognition throughout the year. No matter what you decide is the best cadence for formal recognition, remember that informal recognition can happen year-round in the form of a personal word of thanks and appreciation during a team huddle. The key is to do it frequently, sincerely, and in as specific a way as possible.

3. What type of recognition would best resonate with your unique workforce or the individual you are honoring? Is it public acknowledgment? A celebration event? Or something tangible?

In recognition, one size does not fit all. One individual might value a public display of gratitude during a meeting, while others might prefer a simple, private word of appreciation. Be aware of how members prefer to be recognized or what’s culturally appropriate.

4. How can you best structure recognition so members of the team are inspired to participate and feel engaged in the process?

Crowdsourcing can certainly be applied to award programs as well. Who better to recognize an unsung hero than those who work side-by-side with him or her on a daily basis? Consider building excitement and involvement by taking nominations by email or secret ballot, or there are even apps available that allow teams to formally give one another kudos.

Three Must-Haves for Recognition

Once you’ve thought through the answers to these questions, you can begin to formulate the structure of your recognition. In doing so, remember these key guidelines:

  • Make it personal
  • Make it meaningful
  • Make it specific

When you do that, the recognition not only resonates with the recipients, but it helps others to understand expectations and commit to demonstrating similar behaviors.

Think about a time when you were acknowledged for your hard work. What about the recognition stands out in your mind and why?

—David Grossman

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Tags: Employee Engagement, Feedback/Trust