Recognition matters! Not just because it makes employees feel appreciated (which it does!), but also because it reaffirms what you want from them. Consider the results of this question from a 2013 study from the Society of Human Resource Management and Globoforce:
This shouldn’t be a surprise. As kids we get praised for doing something good, like putting our toys away. And get scolded for doing something bad, like eating a cookie before dinner. Basic human response to reward and punishment doesn’t change as we get older.
Here’s how to think about offering recognition that reaffirms organizational values:
Give Shout Outs As Good Deeds Happen
Don’t wait. If you see good work in action, acknowledge it when it happens. This leaves the employee and all those nearby with no doubt as to what the shout-out is levied at. If you wait, that good deed will be forgotten and you’ll have lost the chance for positive reinforcement.
Be Authentic in Your Praise
Don’t be overly cheesy. Be sincere and not overly effusive, otherwise it looks fake. Despite what millions of corporate-sponsored productions would tell you, people are pretty aware of cheesy, fake performances. Non-condescending praise works best here. For example:
“Hey Ben, I want to let you know that the presentation you did with our prospective client was fantastic. You did a great job answering all of their tough questions.”
Explain Why You’re Recognizing Them
Being explicit about why you’re pleased by certain effort can help reinforce what you want and why you want it. It’s just like long answer questions in school – it’s not enough to say what you think, you need to explain why or why not or your answer doesn’t really count. Try something like this:
“Hey Jen, it’s great that you were able to figure out the issue with the Excel document. Finance will finally be able to get the quarterly numbers to the team. Great job!”
Feedback Goes Both Ways
You need to give feedback to your employees because you want them to know what they’re doing right, and by extension what is wrong that they can avoid. Well, they aren’t the only ones who need some feedback. As manager, it’s always helpful to hear how you could be performing better.
Give your workers a way to anonymously provide feedback. There are programs, like TINYpulse, that let you gather this data in micro-surveys every week, so you can get the recognition—or suggestions—you deserve.