Recognition Fails and How to Fix Them

In the words of my teenagers, today we’re going to be talking about “fails”. Recognition fails. Why do I want to share this with you when I normally try to speak about positive and solution focused topics? Well, to be frank, we are wasting time, energy and resources on some things that are not getting us any results. So, if we course correct then we can focus on the recognition approaches that retain our top talent, customers and reputation.

Fail #1—General Call-outs

Social media is full of “appreciation” that means nothing. Take Twitter for example. Do you have an automatic message that says, “Thank-you for re-tweeting. A thank-you for following us.” It’s not really a sincere acknowledgement, is it? Nice idea in theory, but wastes people’s time. Do you summarize all the people that tweeted you that week? Again, what result does it have? I personally don’t feel appreciated if I’m part of a generic list (that I wonder if some autoresponder has created). Bottom-line: not personalized.

Just wipe that from your Twitter plan, and then try acknowledging people specifically for why they are important as a follower—or better yet what they shared that was meaningful. That’s what matters most. Spend your time engaging with people. Have real conversations in their Twitter sphere.

Fail #2—Only Responding to Negative Comments

The second thing that we do in social media is that we don’t respond to people when they say something positive about us. Or when we have an opportunity to boost their brand, it just falls on deaf ears. And yet, they are the first ones to respond if we complain.

Not responding to a favourable social media post is like shunning your guests at your own dinner party. Rude.

Fail #3—Making Recognition Only About Money

Sometimes we think that recognition is only about money, and so we have an excuse as to why we can’t do it. In actual fact, we realize that what we invest in terms of development, what we invest in terms of our attention toward people, matters way more than the actual dollars, once we hit a certain threshold financially.

The important thing to remember: a recognition fail is that we throw more money at individuals as opposed to our recognition efforts as a whole, or even our energy, and what we could be doing as a team to acknowledge the behaviours we want to see more of.

Fail #4—Being too Critical of New Ideas

Sometimes we tell employees a little too much about why we can’t do something and what we don’t like, what’s not working, as opposed to celebrating the fact that they felt safe enough, adventurous enough, comfortable enough, to give us an idea in the first place. We don’t have to spend all of our time telling people why something can’t work. Maybe we need to ask questions.

A recognition fail is failing to realize that somebody making an effort to give an idea is their way of saying, “I want to contribute.” Thank them for the contribution even if you can’t follow the suggestion.

Fail #5—Keeping Praise to Yourself

We often fail to recognize people right in front of us. That something small, however small, or we think that we are seeing a pattern, we think, “Wow. That person is always positive.” Or, “I think they’ve been showing up early.” Or, “You know what? I think the best ideas have come from that individual.” If you just think it and don’t say it, it’s a missed opportunity.

So, recognition fail is thinking things without actually acknowledging the person. Sometimes folks worry that it sounds insincere. “I’m always telling people that they are great.” Well, don’t say, “You’re great.” Tell them specifically what is it that you appreciate and don’t wait! Don’t wait until their Performance Review – you may have lost them by then!

The Rundown

Make sure you take those moments as you go, because they may pass you by and you may fail to be able to acknowledge them in a meaningful way. You never know. They may be feeling like they are not valued, that they are not contributing in a meaningful way and they’re already on the hunt for another job, or they are one call away from a recruiter before they leave you.

So, don’t let those opportunities pass you by.

What other recognition fails have you experienced in your personal or professional life? Please share it in the comment box, and of course, as always, share these videos. Let’s not be focused on our failures, let’s focus on our successes.

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

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