Key Point: Most of us, according to research on the topic, aren’t great at effectively and consistently giving recognition to one another. J.D. Power, the well-known research firm, highlights that workers rate the importance of recognition as a key consideration for being valued and engaged, (see graph below). Yet the best behavior practice (according to Achievers), is when someone consciously and specifically gives acknowledgment four times a month. It seems somewhat underwhelming that voicing appreciation for others once a week leads the way. I believe we can do better.
I actually did have a boss who warned me against giving too much recognition. “You will make them soft,” he said. “Keep ‘em on their toes.” But, I’ve yet to read the following headline in the Wall Street Journal, “Firm Fails Because of too Much Recognition.” Ask yourself the question, would you try less and get lazy if you received recognition?
Commit to becoming a recognition pace setter. Be very specific about what you’re appreciating. Acknowledge the behavior, attitude and results you’re coaching.
Connect recognition to the results you are expecting. Process recognition relates to behavior you know will ultimately lead to the desired results. The same can be said for attitude.
Make consistent and regular recognition a habit. Someone who recognizes others with confidence knows what they are looking for. They have to be good observers and care.
Remember that the ultimate beneficiary of recognition is you. Why? Because recognizing helps people grow and develop. It is more than just a feel good exercise. It is about giving, so that others may too. Can you give recognition at least once a week?
I make it a point if at all possible, to never to pass a kid’s lemonade stand without stopping to buy. Why? Because these kids have are trying to provide something of value with their time and talent. They find a good street corner on a hot day, make a product that’s refreshing, offer it with a huge anticipatory smile, and that’s worth paying for. Hopefully a positive lemonade stand experience for these rookie entrepreneurs translates into more as they grow into adulthood. (Btw… I don’t always drink the lemonade…)
This reminds me that every day you and I pass “lemonade stands” at work. Obviously they are not lemonade stands but what would happen if:
We always stopped to say good morning to the first person we met coming in the door, asked sincerely as to how they were, and listened to their response?
Carefully watched and held the door or elevator open for people coming in behind us?
Said good morning to people as we came in to our work area and broadly smiled as we did so?
Wrote a hand written (not email) thank you or recognition note to someone who helped us or someone we observed doing something great? We could easily do this while we waited for our computer to boot up… i.e. before our email overtook us!
Made a point of identifying on our daily agenda someone we were going to help or coach that day?
Concluded each day thanking someone?
People tell me the pressure of applying the Character Triangle with consistency can be daunting. Of course as human beings we can and will stray from the principles from time to time. I am more interested in promoting the relentless journey of purposefully practicing the principles than expecting personal perfection from myself or others. However, the one thing I know for sure is that the small stuff ends up being the big stuff.
The above behavioral examples at one level are trivial. They will not on their own make or break a business model. However if we make a point of attending to the small stuff, the bigger things have a better foundation for connecting with the same principles.
Don’t pass literal or metaphorical lemonade stands without “buying”!
Set the stage each day at work, as we travel between the front door and our office/cube/station.
Be present, smile, say thank you, and acknowledge in our first 30 minutes and the “table will be set” for the rest of the day.
Wrap every day with a genuine thank you.
Do it all over again until it becomes a positive habit.
There are seven critical ways in which managers can show respect to their employees:
Recognition. Thanking employees and acknowledging their contributions on a daily basis.
Empowerment. Providing employees with the tools, resources, training, and information they need to be successful.
Supportive Feedback. Giving ongoing performance feedback — both positive and corrective.
Partnering. Fostering a collaborative working environment.
Expectation Setting. Establishing clear performance goals and holding employees accountable.
Consideration. Demonstrating thoughtfulness, empathy, and kindness.
Trust. Demonstrating faith and belief in their employees’ skills, abilities, and decisions.
This is an actionable philosophy that speaks to how employees and managers should treat one another on a regular basis.
I think this checklist, what I refer to as the Respect 7, is a useful template for assessing how well you and I apply the respect principle at work.
Character Move: Let’s self score ourselves on a scale of 1 (poor) to 7 (great) on each of the seven points. How well do we do with our boss, teammates, and if applicable, our direct reports? Why not use an anonymous feedback tool to get real time feedback and data (e.g. use a tool like SurveyMonkey or Rypple)? Build an action plan to shore up our weakest areas. Then, let’s self score our boss. How well does he or she do? What could you do to help them get better at these? How do we communicate that in a constructive and useful manner to them? The very aspect of exploring this self evaluation is a respect-driven (and self accountable) action in its own right.
Every week I ask my direct reports to let me know specifically who they gave recognition to and why. I expect this from the leaders who work for me.
Gallup states that 20% of the U.S. workforce is disengaged. If you work in an environment where you’re ignored, disengagement rises to 45%. But if a colleague notices a single strength, our disengagement falls to 1%. More importantly I believe it is impossible to fully engage and optimize the skills of others until we are capable of recognizing their strengths.
Character Move: Today …how about right now …write an email, a handwritten note, or personally connect with a colleague, highlighting a strength they have. Do it from the heart; no excuses. Do it now.
Deepak Chopra speaks of the importance of this in the video below.
The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ... Read more about Lorne Rubis
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Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.
What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?
The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:
Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame. Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process. Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.