Recognition; having your peers, Supervisor and/or end users acknowledge your effort, good work habits, results achieved and attitude. In short, are you getting enough?
In some workplaces, employees report only getting positive recognition at their yearly performance appraisals. That means they go 364 days between hearing words of appreciation and having what they do on behalf of an organization recognized. I don’t know about you but that kind of working environment is one I’d rather not work with. No, I want to work in a climate where I hear words of encouragement and gratitude on a regular basis. Tell me I’m appreciated and that the work I’m doing is of a consistent high quality and I’m far more likely to invest myself in what I do and strive to do even better. Ah but that’s just me.
Now to be clear, I’m not advocating that employers have recognition ceremonies and awards dinners on a weekly basis where everyone is the employee of the month. That would get expensive, lose it’s meaning rather quickly and certainly would come across as less than authentic. Nonetheless, good employers; the best of the best mind – find ways to recognize the good works of their people on a regular basis. The interesting thing is that it need not involve what most people would assume would be the number one reward; money.
Suppose you were working away in your job today and one of your colleagues sticks their head in the door and says, “Hey you got a sec? I just wanted to thank you for your help yesterday. I really mean it, that was very kind of you.” Or your boss comes down to the area you’re working away in and in front of your co-workers casually remarks, “Thought I’d let you know that the idea you brought forward a couple of weeks ago is being strongly considered as a pilot project. Keep up the good work.”
Now neither of the above has added a single cent to your financial wealth. There’s no new certificate hanging on your wall, no champagne uncorked or free tickets to a sporting event in your mail slot. Yep, it didn’t cost anyone anything to pass on words of recognition except perhaps the effort it took to physically approach you and say thanks. Nonetheless, I’m guessing you’d feel a surge of gratefulness, your disposition would improve, you’d feel positive about yourself and most importantly you’d feel thankful for that recognition.
Further imagine that this kind of behaviour was duplicated with a fair degree of regularity. Perhaps it’s you acknowledging the good work of a colleague, that your boss high-fives one of your teammates on the assembly line for going another week without any quality issues or the Receptionist sends you a brief email telling you how highly one of the customers you just helped out thinks of you. Wouldn’t that be the kind of workplace where the overall mood of the employees was elevated? Think how positive the culture would be, where people felt those who worked there really cared about not just the end results but the people they worked alongside.
In reality, the kind of culture I’m describing does exist. It isn’t however exclusively up to Management with a capital, “M” to initiate it and officially sanction such behaviour. To achieve this kind of supportive workplace where people are recognized as well as the good works they do is a collective effort. Sure it could start with some organization-wide announcement and training. However, it could also start at any level in the organization with any single employee; it could even start with…dare I say it…you.
It’s true isn’t it? Sure it is. You could make the effort to watch out for people around you who work with a solid work ethic and comment on that. You could tell someone how much you admire their excellent attendance, let them know how you value their experience and helpful attitude etc. As long as it’s genuine and authentic, why couldn’t you make it a regular practice to verbalize what you recognize and admire in the people you work with 7 or more hours a day? Yes it certainly could start with you; and then, what if it started to spread?
Too often I think we expect such things to start as a Management initiative; top down. We figure that they make the most money and therefore they are the ones who should be recognizing our good work, our efforts, our positive outlook, our safety record or excellent results. Why can’t it work the other way round? I imagine your boss or another Supervisor you work alongside in your workplace would also feel good about themselves were you to pass on a word of recognition to them. “Hey boss, I really appreciated your flexibility when I needed to leave an hour earlier yesterday. I know it was short notice and it was one less thing to worry about when I had to get to the hospital and see my dad. That meant a lot to me.”
One constant in all organizations is the involvement of other people. Even if you work remotely from home, you’ve undoubtedly got others you interact with online or via the phone. A small word of recognition goes a long way.
Remember too the customer and end-user; a genuine, “Thanks so much for your business, it’s appreciated” goes a long way.