Recognition Fuels Motivation

by | Jul 15, 2019

When you’re in sales in a large market like Dallas-Fort Worth, inevitably your team will get visits from the big HQ VP’s. My team was getting ready for one of those visits when my immediate boss’ dad suddenly passed away.

I immediately recruited one of my team members to make sure the VP’s trip was filled with meetings with the local team and customers. Despite my leader’s absence, I wanted to make sure this leader’s visit was productive and that our team looked good in his eyes.

Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when I was on a regional conference call when a colleague, who did nothing to help in my leader’s absence, got credit from my regional VP for filling in for our boss and making sure this VP’s trip was a productive one.

Several of my team members immediately IM’d me because they knew it wasn’t true. I was seething on that call and almost speechless—which doesn’t happen often. While I didn’t expect or need recognition for doing the right thing, I also didn’t expect someone else to get credit for something I had led.

Eventually, I spoke to my leader about the call. She supposedly spoke to her boss, the VP who incorrectly praised one of my counterparts for work he didn’t do, but nothing changed. I didn’t get any recognition, the guy who got the praise from that VP continued to be her favorite and I lost respect for my boss’s boss.

In hindsight, I’m sure that was the beginning of the end of my career at that company.

Recognition matters. It’s why it’s part of our CARE — Communications, Activities, Recognition, and Encouragement —Program.

A few stats about recognition leaders should think about include:

  • Global studies prove that when it comes to inspiring people to do their best at work, nothing else comes close—not even higher pay, promotion, autonomy or training. (Forbes)
  • 42% of employees believe their accomplishments go unnoticed. (OC Tanner)
  • About 85% of professionals prefer a simple “thank you” as recognition for their day-to-day work activities. (Deloitte)
  • Top reasons for leaving a job: insufficient pay (44%), limited career paths (43%), lack of challenging work (30%), work-life balance (28%), and lack of recognition (27%). (Randstad)
  • Peer-to-peer is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition.   (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey)
  • Global studies reveal that 79% of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ as their reason for leaving (Forbes)

Recognition is bigger than the formal recognition programs your organization does. I mean trips, gifts and plaques are nice. However, the day-to-day recognition leaders provide impacts everything from performance to retention—it impacts your results as a leader.

When planning recognition for your team, consider:

  • When you give public kudos, make sure it’s the right person being recognized.
  • Make sure your team takes their vacation days — as many as 50% of vacation days are forfeited each year. This simple act shows that you recognize a team member is going above and beyond, but time away is important to productivity and moral.
  • Each month or quarter send team members an individual email, or hand written note, that recognizes something you value about them— a specific performance situation, a personal trait that helps them with their job or interaction with team members. Make it personal.
  • When possible, make sure your leader knows about the great work someone on your team does.
  • Recognize your high achievers, but also remember the important role your “steady eddies” play—the people who always get the job done, but may not want or try to be your high achievers.
  • Encourage your team members to give kudos to each other at team meetings or in-person.
  • Don’t forget to recognize your virtual and field team members—sometimes when people are out of sight, they are out of mind and can feel left out.
  • Recognize team members on LinkedIn with a shout out or by giving them a surprise recommendation.
  • Your recognition needs to be genuine—therefore, if you have some challenging employees, you may have to think a little harder to recognize their strengths. However, this may be the very thing that inspires them to further develop their professional skills.

Also, remember each team member is different; some like public accolades and others appreciate more personal recognition.

This is a blatant self-promotion but this year the Society of Happy People celebrates the 20th Happiness Happens Month in August. We want to recognize One Million Smile Starters — those people who start our smiles — starting now. We are providing free certificates and social media graphics. We also have fun Smile Starter Award Wristbands and Certificates.

You can make it a day, week, or even month-long celebration:

  • Give your team members an award
  • Encourage your team members to give Smile Starter Awards to their colleagues in other departments, or to their customers
  • Give a prize to the person who gets the most Smile Starter Awards from their peers

Authentic recognition is key to your success as a leader. When leaders customize recognition for individual team members so they feel valued and know you care about them, then these team members are inspired to do everything they can to make your team successful.

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