Recognition Founded on Sincere Appreciation

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Receiving simple and sincere thanks for their contributions is the primary

form of recognition people want. In one recent study, 78 percent of employees

said it was very important for them to be recognized by their manager

when they do good work. Another 73 percent said they expected

recognition to occur either ‘‘immediately’’ or ‘‘soon thereafter.’’11 There

are several ways of giving thanks, with face-to-face being the most preferred,

but also including written, electronic, and public. Many employees

like written expressions of thanks, as they can be copied and kept. Not

all employees like public recognition, however, so it is always best to ask

employees whether they mind being singled out in front of others.

Many managers find it hard to give this simplest of recognition because

they have developed the habit of taking the contributions of their employees

for granted, perhaps because their own contributions have gone unappreciated.

It is difficult to get managers to develop the new habit of giving

thanks for good work. It is probably easier to change to a culture of recognition

by hiring managers whom we know to be good at giving thanks to

their employees than it is to train managers to build new habits. Still, managers

can be taught the art of giving thanks, and many companies do include

modules on how to recognize and show appreciation in their basic

supervisory training. It takes practice to build new habits, so most effective

training requires managers to actually try out new ways of expressing appreciation

during training sessions.

There are different ways to say thanks, such as:

‘‘I’m glad you’re here.’’

‘‘Thank you for being who you are . . . your role here is vital and

much appreciated.’’

‘‘You stayed late last night to finish that proposal, and I want you to

know how much that meant to me and the whole team.’’

It also helps to have a list of different ways to express appreciation, like

the following one:

Send a gift certificate for dinner for two at a local restaurant with a

note of thanks.

Send out note cards for writing personal thanks with the words ‘‘You

Done Good’’ or ‘‘Bravo’’ printed on them.

Give employees a way to recognize their peers, such as having them

pass around an old trophy to coworkers for doing something they

view as outstanding.

Give employees an unexpected half day or day off.

Take the employee to lunch.

Give the employee a choice assignment.

Pay for a massage or manicure.

Send a gift basket to the home.

Whatever method you chose to use, keep in mind that recognition

works best when it is contingent on desired behavior and performance. If

you bring in donuts every Friday, it won’t take long before employees see

A New Habit in Action

‘‘I try to remember that people—good, intelligent, capable people—

may actually need day-to-day praise and thanks for the job they do. I

try to remember to get up out of my chair, turn off my computer, go

sit or stand next to them and see what they’re doing, ask about the

challenges, find out if they need additional help, offer that help if

possible, and most of all, tell them in all honesty that what they are

doing is important: to me, to the company, and to our customers.’’12

—John Ball, service training manager,