Ask Skip: How Do You Get Managers to Value Employees’ Need for Recognition When They Have So Many Other Priorities They’re Juggling?

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This is a great question and I think too many organizational leaders over think this.

I want to make two very important points with regard to this issue and question:

  1. When it comes to managers and supervisors having “so many other priorities they’re juggling,” I would argue that building relationships with their team members should be among their top priorities if they want to maintain motivation. So, your managers and supervisors should be making time for this, if they want to maintain a team of motivated people working for them.
  2. Providing employees with appreciation and recognition doesn’t have to be anything over the top or time consuming as sometimes the simplest methods go a long way.

For point #2 let me give you the best example I can think of.

Two years ago my wife reached her 20-year anniversary working for her organization. Every year at their annual year-end luncheon the chief executive recognizes all the 5-10-15-20-25-30 year anniversaries by calling them up, shaking their hands and giving them a small token of acknowledgement, like a pen or paper weight.

My wife detests both those little tchotchkes and open public recognition. But, as she came up to accept her award as a 20-year employee, the chief executive shook her hand, looked her in the eye and said, “ah now, here’s one of our superstars.” But, it was said quietly to her directly and not over a microphone so the whole room could hear. It was a perfect way to recognize her.

That was all she needed to hear. It went a long way towards building her confidence and self-esteem.

The best, and often most effective, forms of recognition are simple things that get overlooked because managers don’t believe its enough, so they don’t do it.

Simple heartfelt signs of appreciation work the best.

  • A hand written “Thank You” note
  • An offer to take someone out to lunch to have a 1:1 “thank you, job well done” discussion
  • Open recognition in a team meeting where the individual is pointed out among peers for doing something that secured a big “win” for the team.

It’s also important for managers and supervisors to get to know their team members as people and individuals. Some people love being recognized and rewarded with a big public ceremony whereas others would be embarrassed by it and it could be demotivating. For the latter, like my wife, the more private type of recognition would be more appropriate.

Again, I want to reinforce that managers should shift their priorities and make sure that recognizing and appreciating their team members moves to the top of their list. It will go a long way to improving motivation, morale and performance at any company.

’til next time, make it a great day!

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