Build Better Staff Recognition

funny motivational speakersA primary way leaders can unwittingly drag down performance is through staff recognition programs.

These programs often trivialize success, create competition and end up recognizing people for work they are supposed to do anyways. It's their job, that's why they get paid. 

We get into the trap of creating entitlement when we start offering perks for work that is built into the job description.

The number one reason people leave their job, is they don't feel appreciated. 

I think people LIKE to be recognized, but they NEED to know that what they do counts and someone is keeping score. Wrapped up in this, employees want to know the work is contributing to something. 

The analogy I use in a motivational speech is, Imagine a supervisor continually asking a team member to work on a project, only to have priorities change and abandon the project. If it happened enough, the employee would no longer put much effort or pride in their work because it doesn't amount to anything and nobody will notice it anyway.

If you work hard every day and nobody notices or keeps track of your progress, it's disheartening. Even worse,  is if the work itself doesn't ultimately make any difference to others.

Build better staff recognition programs by doing regular goal setting, keeping score and tying individual performance to the team and overall progress.

Instead of flaunting random positive praise at team members, have meaningful conversations about progress.  Inquire about the status of what employees are working on, who is involved, what the next milestone is, and how a leader can help.

These meaningful conversations build on success and anchor people to results they know matter to their team.

When it comes to reward and recognition, employees are looking for meaning, not things. The meaning behind the reward and not the reward itself is what matters. A genuine, personalized recognition will go much further then generic praise. 



Different people like to be rewarded differently. Understanding those differences can be the difference between a meaningful recognition and a mediocre one. Take the time to understand what people like, by asking them how they like to be recognized.

Some questions to consider:

How do you like to be recognized? Individually or as part of a group? Formally ( i.e... At a ceremony or event or informally ( a less formal pat on the back)? 
From whom? A senior leader? Direct manager? Direct report? A coworker?
In private or public? Verbally or in print?

Finally, What type of reward would be most meaningful?
Words of praise
Increased responsibility
Salary increase
Time off
Flexible schedule
Continuing education opportunity
Opportunity for advancement
More autonomy
More challenging work
Celebration events

Odds are that most people are not being over recognized! Instead of mindlessly praising everyone, clarify the kind of behaviors that get rewarded. 

Celebrate results and not just activity, make a fuss over meaningful things like achieving larger goals. 

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Jody is a motivational speaker who is passionate about inspiring workplace enthusiasm

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