Recognize employees for small wins regularly — not just once a year — for a confident, productive workplace.
Praise for specific acts of excellence builds employee self-confidence and in turn increases engagement. The more, the better!
Employee recognition is one of the most important responsibilities your managers undertake, according to management and sales expert Brian Tracy.
“Building self-esteem and self-confidence in others is more important in bringing the best out of people than all the education, intelligence or experience you might have at doing your job,” he writes on his blog.
The best employee recognition fulfills a “core emotional need” in humans: to feel important. Your employees want to work for leaders who like them and value them. After all, company leaders are the ones who hold “the most influence over the employee’s work and income,” Tracy writes.
Unfortunately, too many well-meaning employee recognition programs don’t make this emotional connection with employees. Instead of building confidence, these efforts actually lower confidence and demotivate.
Ensure that your workplace leaders recognize employees effectively. Invest time and structured training for managers so they understand recognition expectations, and learn how to effectively recognize reports. Read on for expert tips on inspiring and using confidence-building recognition.
5 Common Employee Recognition Mistakes
Employee recognition is a billion dollar industry, yet too much of this money gets wasted on efforts that don’t work and can even demotivate employees. What gives? Even Gallup has been promoting the idea, based on research findings, that “it’s time to reinvent employee recognition.”
Here are five common mistakes companies make when they recognize employees — and how to correct them:
1. Recognition Isn’t a Habit
Is recognition an “event” in your workplace? Celebrations are a lively part of workplace culture but only effective when they’re backed by everyday recognition. Don’t rely on events alone to communicate your gratitude to employees. Recognition should be a daily habit.
2. Money Is the Main Motivator
Everybody loves money, but it isn’t the only or even the top employee motivator, according to Gallup. What employees really respond to is your clearly communicated appreciation. Your gift of money motivates with great recognition, not without it. In the absence of “Thanks,” monetary recognition can be interpreted as a bribe, an “easy way out” for leaders to thank employees without actually doing much. Better yet, choose a non-monetary gift that will be individually meaningful to employees! It shows you actually care.
3. Leaders Leave Recognition to HR
Employees need to hear recognition from leaders first. Your HR team is responsible for coordinating engagement and recognition efforts, but leaders still need to be involved. Make sure leadership is on-board, fully supportive and ready to communicate recognition regularly on the job.
4. Recognition Only Happens at the Holidays
The annual office Christmas party is an important cultural tradition. Celebrating together at the holidays is a meaningful way to share appreciation with employees. But those good feelings won’t last into spring, let alone August. There is no “off season” for recognition. The best companies recognize employees throughout the year.
5. Recognition Isn’t Tied to Performance
If employees don’t know why they’re being recognized, they won’t know which good behaviors to replicate on the job in the future. A blanket “Good job!” for everybody could even demotivate because it comes across as insincere and uncaring.
Effective recognition motivates excellent performance by defining it. As Brian Tracy writes:
“One of the things we know about the power of praise is that it must be done deliberately and intelligently for maximum impact. For example, if you want a person to develop a positive behavior, each time that they demonstrate that behavior, you should go out of your way to notice it and praise them for it.”
Recognize Results, Make an Emotional Connection
Ultimately your goal to recognize employees supports and boosts their internal motivation — “personal satisfaction or pride in work” is one of the top ways employees are motivated to continue excellent work, according to Gallup.
By recognizing results and individual effort, you’re appealing to the employee’s emotional need to feel useful. Confidence-building recognition lets employees know why their work matters.
And recognition needs to be shared freely and frequently enough that it becomes a cultural habit. Ideally, according to a LinkedIn post by Liz Krueger, your recognition will begin to feed a culture of recognition and employees will feel empowered to recognize each other, too:
“Anytime is good. Anywhere works. By making recognition something that can only happen once a month in a specific place as nominated by a small group of senior people, recognition turns in to an ‘event’, not a habit. This can actually have a negative effect and work against creating a culture of recognition as most people don’t feel empowered to recognize others.”
One of the most commonly reported obstacles to better recognition is lack of time, according to The Balance article, “The Power of Positive Employee Recognition.” Inevitably, when a company concentrates its recognition efforts on a single event or day, the impact is disappointing and it feels like a lot of time spent without much to show for it.
That’s why it’s better to spread recognition throughout the year, make it a daily habit. Even five minutes a day spent recognizing employees can meaningfully build confidence, motivation and engagement!
Free Resource: Your Day-to-Day Employee Appreciation Calendar
We all need inspiration to make employee appreciation a daily habit. gThankYou’s 2017 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar gives you the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. Be inspired; download yours today, absolutely free.
“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author
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