Giving Good Recognition

Most of the times, when I discuss with employees the issue of Recognition, I get typical answers – “Yeah, we have a “star of the year” award” or even better annual Chairman’s award.” I have never some across a situation where the first instant response points towards recognition flowing from the manager. That makes me question the overall efficacy of the way managers recognize their people and energize them further.

So, people…head over straight to the Incentive Intelligence blog to get started with some basics of individual recognition. The post encourages you to use the SAIL method of recognition:

  • Situation: the problem or opportunity
  • Action: what was done in specific terms
  • Impact:  the result of the action
  • Link:  to department/organizational goals and objectives

Start relying less and less on the “annual” or “quarterly” recognition schemes. And recognize and engage your people by treating them as people, by individualizing.

4 thoughts on “Giving Good Recognition

  1. I work with managers to help coach and develop them and I have not met any manager who didn’t understand the importance of recognition, nor do they dispute that they need to recognize their people.

    After some diagnosis, we realized that most managers struggled with the following:

    1. What kind of activities, outcomes, deliverables, behaviours can they recognize?
    2. How – most common statement “I don’t have a budget”

    So we put together a job aid for them, it was 2 concentric circles. The outer circle had a list of behaviours that could be recognized and the inner circle had a list of:
    No cost
    Low cost
    Some cost

    Ways to recognize people.

    This made life very simple for managers. We took it a step further and realized that Managers struggle with articulation, and hence don’t write as many notes/emails as they could, to recognize performance. So we added, sample post it notes, sample emails, certificate templates etc. to the toolkit.

    Across the board, we notice Recognition as a key low scorer on employee engagement surveys, and yet most organizations do little to correct it.

    I also think recognition fades with familiarity, this is in general. Most newcomers get noticed and recognized and later as time goes on, get taken for granted. This happens in most all relationships.

    When our children take their first staggering steps, we’re all praise for what wI could say is good effort but little outcome. But then they struggle with a new subject in school and bring in a D the first time round, we don’t clap and say, “WOW look she got a D!” how nice, she’s beginning to learn. We say “Hmmm…you should’ve have got a B at the very least”.

    Ditto with new managers! :o)

    Sorry! started out with a short note, and then just got carried away!


  2. Good tips. Additional critical elements are frequency and timeliness. You allude to moving way from annual or quarterly recognition, but I think this point is so important it should be hammered home — when someone does something worthy of recognition, pause in your day to meaningfully and personally thank that person. Better yet, show them the meaning and the value of that effort as it relates to the company’s strategic priorities. More on the importance of frequency, especially during stressful times, here:


  3. Thanks for your comments, Derek. I completely agree with your points on the frequency and timeliness of recognition. And yes, during stressful times, recognition can be quite a stress-buster.


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