We live in a time where everyone is visible more than ever before -- now we can even see how far our reach extends with profile views, shares, tweets, and “likes.” In a world where every failure, frustration, and triumph is publicly recognized online, an unexpected yet poignant result is that conversely, many of us feel less “seen,” both in the workplace, and at home. According to a 2011 Workforce Mood Tracker Survey, 69 percent of employees would work harder if they were recognized more often in the workplace. Recognition is inspiring and if we had more of it, we’d probably work harder with our families and friends as well.
We must make recognition less complicated and more accessible. When you peel it all back, conversations are the workhorses of every organization….and great leader. Conversation is an accessible tool that can continually be honed and used to move closer or further from where the results need to be.
Instead of worrying about the latest and greatest recognition programs, the below tips are consistently used by top leaders. The three act as simple reminders to focus on every day to build more recognition into the workplace.
- Stay up to date. Stop delaying, avoiding, postponing, or rescheduling feedback. In fact, don’t let more than 48 hours go by when an issue arises. Avoiding a difficult conversation about performance will only result in a laundry list of complaints, causing the recipient to want to make a run for the exit. Make things easier and much more productive by addressing issues as they arise in a short and sweet manner, free of any emotional load. Rule of thumb: if a manager has more than three positive or negative examples of employee behavior to communicate, this conversation is long overdue and preparation is very important for success.
- Praise publicly, coach privately. Frequent and sincere praise creates high-functioning work environments and enriches relationships. Be generous and specific with praise, but don’t get overly gushy or take up too much time. Acknowledgement should include: the observable behavior, where it took place, when it took place, and most importantly, what changed or was produced for the better. If the issue is negative, pull the employee aside. Keep employees’ feelings in mind – if the conversation could reflect poorly on the work or their reputation, discuss the issue in private.
- Ask for their perspective. One of the best ways to acknowledge employees’ efforts is to turn the tables and ask for their feedback on a high-stakes decision. More than anything, employees – especially Millennials – want to play an active role in their organization. Giving them an opportunity to participate at a deeper level not only improves decisions, but also expresses appreciation for the employees’ dedication and commitment to the company. Instead of looking at this investment as a time suck, think about it as a way to further deposit emotional capital into the relationship. Employees who feel their opinions matter will give the organization both their heads and their hearts.
Appreciating employees is one of the simplest, most cost-effective ways to enrich relationships and build a positive workplace culture. Recognition can motivate and inspire employees, leading to higher retention rates, greater job satisfaction, and better bottom lines.
We all truly crave being recognized. And that can’t always be quantified by number of connections, likes, or recommendations. It still needs to come from being authentic and sharing the value you have with another – human to human.
First published on Human Capital Institute Blog on May 26, 2016