Recognizing Your Employees: Part 2 of 3

Excuses For Not Giving Recognition - Recognizing Your Employees (Part 2 of 3)

“People may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition.” – Bob Nelson

There are many reasons managers and supervisors do not recognize employees on a regular basis. Below are the most common excuses with some suggestions on how to respond.

I don’t believe in rewarding people for just doing their jobs.

Recognition is acknowledgement, noticing someone’s good work, and a tool for reinforcing the types of behaviors you would like to see repeated. Recognition is a motivator and a means for achieving business objectives.

I don’t have time.

If recognition is important to you, you will find the time. The type of recognition that has the most impact in the workplace is informal day-to-day recognition of contributions. How much time does it take to say thank you? Employees who receive regular recognition are ultimately more engaged, and engaged employees make a manager’s job easier. Not everyone needs to be acknowledged every day, but try saying “thank you” at least once each day.

It becomes meaningless if done too often.

It is often insincerity and not quantity that tends to devalue a recognition activity. Once employees start getting recognized, they will expect more recognition—this is a good thing. When recognition is provided on a regular basis, employees stay and provide better service.

People don’t care about it all that much.

More people care than don’t care. Employee surveys indicate employees feel recognition from their manager and being valued for their work is very important.

Why should I recognize others?

Employees are our most valuable resource and should be treated as such. Recognition also makes business sense—recognition is a tool to reinforce positive behaviors and performance, provide more supportive work environments, improve employee engagement, and achieve business goals. Recognizing employees translates into higher-quality service.

It’s not my job.

It’s everyone’s job to support an environment where people are acknowledged and appreciated. Managers and supervisors, however, are in the best position to recognize employees. Receiving feedback from one’s immediate supervisor is the most motivating for employees. As a manager/supervisor of others, you are responsible through the performance management system to review performance, coach, support in achieving objectives, and recognize and support employees for good performance.

I don’t want to play favorites.

This is a valid concern that can be addressed by developing programs with clear and well-communicated criteria. Being consistent in recognizing employees based on clear criteria and behaviors that contribute to the organization’s values and business priorities sends out a message of fairness and reliability.

Also, some managers feel that recognizing everyone as a group is the solution for not leaving someone out. This is not the best approach because you may end up over- or under-recognizing certain individuals. This can be demotivating and misleading. Instead, try making a list of all your employees, and take the time to recognize each of them individually for specific behaviors to ensure everyone is receiving some form of recognition over time. Eventually, day-to-day recognition becomes more natural and effective.

I don’t want to get too familiar with my employees.

Managers may feel that if they are too supportive of or friendly to their employees, it will be more difficult to discipline them when needed. To the contrary, employees don’t work as hard for managers who come across as unappreciative or unfriendly. Research shows people work best for managers who care about them and are attentive to their needs.

Employees may ask for more money.

The opposite is true. Workplace studies indicate that employees who are satisfied with their jobs and are appreciated for their work are less likely to ask for more money. Although most people come to work because of money, they don’t work just for money. Money is compensation. Recognition goes above and beyond compensation to get the best effort from them. Motivators differ significantly from employee to employee, and it is up to managers/supervisors to get to know them and the types of things that motivate them. Money is a basic need, but it is not a motivator.

The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook, Bob Nelson, 2003, Workman Publishing
The 24-Carrot Manager, Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton, 2002, Gibbs Smith Publisher

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