What is recognition?
January 27, 2009 · Print this post
Some companies, and some managers, don’t embrace the idea of “recognition” — they find it artificial, or expensive, or it just takes too much time. Some companies treat recognition as if it were a maintenance chore like filling up the copy machine with paper, or changing the bottle at the water dispenser — something you do to keep things working.
Some companies think that a coffee cup or a t-shirt from the company store is “recognition.” Yep, just what your folks need to make them feel valued: a coffee cup that’s all about the company. No, no — recognition is never about the company: it’s about the people and the work they do. And so for recognition to be effective, it has to be real, and it has to be personal. Cookie cutter approaches and company swag do not send a personal message.
What does? A handwritten note that spells out what the person did and why it matters. A gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. A contribution to the charity that they volunteer for on the weekends. Buying them a cup of coffee at the latte stand and staying to chat while you both get caffeinated. The gift of your personal effort, your time, your attention to the details that make them an individual — that make them, in fact, the individual who just went above and beyond for your team and your business.
It’s not always convenient, but it is always worth it.
If you want to see the power of personal recognition in action, read about what it can mean when someone cheers you on at work — even if your work for the day is to throw passes or play defense in a high school football game.
I love this story. It makes me misty every time I read it. The power of human beings to make each other feel special… imagine how these kids felt on that bus trip home. We don’t have to be on the football field to do this for each other. We can do it in our offices and cubicles, on our factory floors, just by taking the time to recognize not only the work, but the humans behind it. You may be responding because of the work someone did — but when you respond, do so as one human being to another. And then imagine how they might feel on their bus trip home.