Recognition Doesn’t Need to be Formal


If you are going to recognize an employee tell them why.
It is not very big news to report that employee’s like to be recognized and that recognition is important to retaining employees. It does shock me sometimes how many managers seem to forget that fact. As reported in Recognizing Employees Is Critical to Retention by Chad Brooks “A survey by OfficeTeam revealed that nearly half of workers would likely leave their position if they didn’t feel appreciated by their manager.” Joel Manby, the CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment and author of Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles of Effective Leadership, said after his appearance in “Undercover Boss”, “The level of dissatisfaction and even resentment present in the thousands of letter and email message shocked me. People felt as if they couldn’t trust their leaders and bosses. People were, and are, hungry for something new: workplaces that are more respectful, appreciative and, well, more loving.”
Both authors offered suggestions for what needs to be done and both of them make it very clear that recognition doesn’t need to be formal, but it is important for it to be specific. Brooks says one of the biggest mistakes a manager can make is to be vague in providing feedback. “Telling employees they did a “good job” is a generic form of kudos. Tie acknowledgment back to specific actions so people know exactly what they did right.” Manby says “A generic “job well done’ or ‘way to go’ only goes so far, and when overused, can kill specific credibility. Exact and specific praise reinforces positive behavior and leaves employees feeling valued.”
Now not everyone needs to be told they are doing a good job, but my experience has been that many people do, and almost everyone appreciates it. Research has shown that this is especially true of Gen Y workers. So managers need to understand the following:

      • It is important
      • It needs to be targeted to specific behavior
      • It needs to be truthful
      • It needs to be timely

Think about it. What works for you? If it works for you it will in all likelihood work for others.  
I had the good fortune to hear Joel Manby at a SHRM-Atlanta meeting in 2011. Here you can see him briefly talking about his book.

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