Find Someone Doing Something Right Every Day


Last time, we ended with a quote from the psychologist William James: “The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated.”

As the leader of your company or business unit, one of your key roles is to build a winning team. An important part of any winning team is recognition and respect. Everyone on the team must feel that they are appreciated for what they do and thanked for doing a good job. In short, people need to be recognized.

Three questions spring to mind:

  1. Why give recognition?
  2. How to give recognition?
  3. How to get started giving recognition?


Why Give Recognition?

  1. Giving recognition builds the self-confidence and self-esteem of others on your team
    1. Even if you don’t personally need to be recognized, most people do appreciate being recognized for the hard and good work that they are doing
    2. There is ample research that people with more confidence in their job are more highly motivated and produce better work


  2. Giving recognition creates a winning team atmosphere
    1. Recognition is a positive in a world where we spend far too much time focusing on the negative
      1. Think of winning teams in sports and the positive feedback and support you see them giving each other (high fives to the field goal kicker after he makes the field goal, etc.)
      2. Think of losing teams in sports and the negativity and lack of team spirit and appreciation of one another that is most often visible
      3. Which culture do you want to foster?
    2. Recognition helps conquer the typical friction points in a company
      1. Friction points abound in companies
        1. Sales v. Marketing
        2. Production v. Engineering
        3. Sales v. Production
        4. Staff v. Line
        5. Corporate v. Field
      2. Recognize and be appreciative of the team members on “the other side” and you will almost certainly see them be willing to go an extra mile to help you out
      3. Two true examples:
        1. As a salesperson, “Joe” is always demanding of engineering and production. When they deliver on his requests, Joe says nothing telling everybody that it is about time that they did what they were supposed to do. When they miss a deadline, Joe immediately complains to everyone and demands action.
        2. Also in sales, Ben is always appreciative of engineering and production. He often comments and recognizes them for their good quality and responsiveness in sales reports and staff meetings. When they miss a deadline, Ben is demanding but respectful. He tells them that he is disappointed, but he speaks with them directly.
        3. Whose engineering and production requests always seem to go to the top of the pile? Whose requests always seem to go to the bottom of the pile? Who would you want on your team?


  3. Recognition allows for candor and honesty
    1. When recognition is genuine, critiques (discussed later and separately) are more likely to be heard
      1. Ben’s critiques when engineering or production make mistakes or miss a deadline are heard loud and clear and responded to
      2. Joe’s critiques are inevitably ignored
    2. As a leader, without positive encouragement and feedback, you are likely to be perceived as a “pigeon manager”
      1. Fly in with the white shirt. S**t on everyone. Fly back out.
      2. Pigeon managers are usually ignored
        1. Since everything is always negative, nothing that they say is perceived as being constructive
        2. Where is the motivation for the employees? The pigeon manager does not like or recognize anything. So, why bother?


How To Give Recognition?

  1. Criticize in private… recognize in private
    1. Group recognition means little to the individual
      1. “Thank you team. You have all done a wonderful job. Good work.”
      2. As an individual, what does such a statement really mean to you?
    2. With individual recognition in front of a group, those not being recognized feel slighted
      1. “I would like to recognize Jane for her great work on this project.”
      2. Kevin, Susan, and John, the other project managers who also do good work, are thinking: “What am I? Chopped liver.”
    3. One exception may be when you are using recognition to build the culture of the whole group
      1. Accountability
      2. Customer service
      3. Safety
  2. To give recognition
    1. Identify an opportunity for giving recognition
    2. Describe the behavior as immediately and as specifically as possible
    3. State how the behavior made a difference to you and to the organization and thank them for making that difference
    4. Best is to do face to face
      1. By following up in writing after the fact, the recognition will resonate
    5. Example:
      1. “Sarah, excellent job with resolving that customer’s problem. You were responsive throughout the process, zeroed in on the key issue, and put the problem to bed quickly. As you know a satisfied customer is the lifeblood of our business. So, thank you for creating another satisfied customer. Today, you helped to make our company a little bit better and a little bit stronger. Well Done!”
  3. Be direct and genuine
    1. Do not hem and haw
    2. Do not say the word “but”.
      1. If you “have to” offer a critique as well, wait and do it on another day.
      2. Otherwise, the critique will be heard and the recognition will be forgotten


How to Get Started Giving Recognition?

  1. Find someone doing something right every day
    1. Each day, create an action item for 20 minutes a day of MBWA time
      1. “Management by Walking Around”
      2. Interact with your team, thank them and give individuals recognition face to face when you see them doing something well
    2. Try the ten penny approach
      1. As you walk into the office every morning, put the ten pennies that are piled up on your computer keyboard into your left pocket
      2. Throughout the day, each time you give someone recognition or thank them for their work, move a penny from the left pocket to the right pocket
      3. At the end of the day, take all ten pennies that are now in your right pocket and pile up on your computer keyboard


  2. Some counter arguments shot down
    1. “I don’t need recognition. So why do these others need it?”
      1. You are not managing you.
      2. Do you really mean to say it means nothing (absolutely nothing) to you when your boss or spouse gives you a compliment about something that you did?
    2. “I try to do it. But, I just never get around to it.”
      1. See the bullet point above about finding someone doing something right every day
    3. “I have got a lot more important things on my mind.”
      1. Building and encouraging your team to be better is a pretty essential part of your job as a leader
    4. “Although the work was good, it could be better. I will recognize them when their work becomes perfect.”
      1. O.K., so they still need to improve more. Well, how do you get them to improve?
        1. By doing nothing?
        2. Or by encouraging and supporting them?
      2. “The worst recognition that I ever got was the recognition that I never got.”


  3. Just Do It!
    1. “You can never underestimate the power of simple recognition for a job well done.”
    2. It will brighten the day of the employees on your team
    3. It will brighten your day


“In the end, everybody wants recognition and respect.” Michael Bloomberg

Until Next Time.


About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
This entry was posted in Communication, Leadership, Team / People. Bookmark the permalink.

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