How do you honor the people in your organization? A couple of years ago, I was making a focused effort to improve in this arena. I knew intuitively different people place different value on various types of recognition. However, to truly honor people, I needed to know specifically what was of value to them individually.

“What is honored in a country is cultivated there.”
~ Plato

My next step was to set a meeting with all the staff members in my department, temporary and part-time employees too. I asked each of them just one question? What was the best recognition they had ever received? The result – I confirmed my hunch regarding the diversity of approaches to effective recognition. Here’s some of what they told me…

Public recognition – Some people love to be recognized in front of other people. You may be one of those individuals. Unless other people can hear the kind words and see the appreciation, it doesn’t count. When you work with these people, be on the lookout for the appropriate forum to showcase the behaviors you’re trying to reinforce.

Private recognition – I don’t know the percentages, but I do know a significant portion of the population will not feel honored if you single them out publically. I’ve worked with many people who feel public recognition is more punishment than praise. If you miss assess this, your good intentions could actually dissuade the behaviors you’re trying to cultivate.

A hand-written note – This simple, seemingly outdated means of communications is still one of the most powerful, and universally appreciated forms of recognition. Throughout my career, I’ve been amazed at the reception I get from writing short notes of appreciation. I don’t write enough of these! P.S. An email is not the same as a personal note.

A plaque or trophy – Some people want the tangible evidence of their accomplishment. These do not have to be elaborate or expensive… they can even be homemade. A few years ago we were trying to inculcate our core values and we made awards for people who went above and beyond in modeling these behaviors.

Cash – I would assume everyone on your team appreciates a paycheck. However, for some of them, to be recognized with cash (or a gift card) is the ultimate. You may be surprised how little money is needed to make a big impact. If you can’t get this through on your expense report, you may want to do it out of your own pocket. A Starbucks card or two may produce exponential returns.

Time off – I hope you’ve been struck by the diversity of methods for recognizing and rewarding people. The list could go on and on, but I don’t want you to miss this one. Many people will feel honored and appreciated if you say, “You did an outstanding  job completing that project on time and on budget! Why don’t you take tomorrow off?”

If you want to drive change in your organization, recognize the behavior you want to see repeated; and recognize it in ways that speak to people individually.

Writing this post has been a good reminder for me. I need to schedule some meetings and ask just one question…

How about you?[GLS_Shield]

 

Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.