Time and time again, I hear things like:
- How do we actually practice recognition in a way that’s fair?
- I have so much to do. I have too much on my plate.
- There’s no budget.
- My boss doesn’t recognize me.
And the list goes on. It’s disheartening. But more that than, it’s such a missed opportunity. The very reasons why folks feel they cannot recognize others are the very reasons they need to. So, let’s get real and overcome common roadblocks.
- It’s Favouritism.
How can I recognize one person, without others’ feeling I’m playing favourites?
Start with ensuring you equally value people (no favourites). Remember, fairness is not something that everyone will see the exact same way.
If you don’t play favourites, then you don’t need to let it stop you from recognizing your best people! You want to acknowledge the things you want to see more of. If it happens that some people are consistently demonstrating that, I would strongly encourage you to not let it limit your recognition efforts. You can’t control how others perceive you.
- There’s Not Enough Time
That’s right, you have no time. I have no time. Even my kids say they have no time—they have time—but the point is that there are ways you can recognize people in sincere, meaningful, easy ways right when that moment of acknowledgement deserves to happen. It may not take any more time (you’re there with them anyway!) Or it might take seconds to give a sincere “thank-you” (the most common way people want recognition).
In other words, catch people doing something that deserves acknowledgement. You don’t have to go to your office and pull out a thank-you card and write it and send it, or figure out the perfect gift, or apply for a gift card through the corporate program. If it deserves acknowledgement, simply do so on the spot!
- I Have Negative People
Negative people can be very hard to acknowledge, however, one of the most important lessons I learned from my co-author, Brenda Zalter-Minden, is that a complaint is merely a poorly worded request.
Their greatness is just really well hidden. If you look through the lens of ‘their greatness is there it’s just very well hidden,’ you can start to think about how they’re excellent in other aspects of their job. Perhaps what makes them technically fabulous are the exact same things they want to bring to the role in other ways; they’re complaining because it’s a gift being underutilized and they may believe it is not valued. It’s just the way in which they are communicating in other contexts that is being experienced as negative.
- There’s Not Enough Money
It’s a fair point. The Conference Board of Canada’s recent study on recognition demonstrated that we are tying up our money in very expensive, cumbersome recognition programs. Very rarely do we have funds, or even small gift certificates, within our departments this study showed.
However, we know that the most important ways that people want to be recognized are by a thank-you, followed by sincere personalized words of acknowledgement, followed by a written thank-you. These cost nothing or virtually nothing. Can we agree to make someone’s day we can afford the cost of a stamp?
- There are Already Corporate Recognition Programs
I sometimes hear, “corporate programs are already in place; it’s the job of our corporate people.” But we know it’s most meaningful when recognition comes from a direct supervisor or peer.
Need more evidence? Consider the impact of the first time somebody was meaningfully acknowledged was when they reached 20 years of service. Most don’t make it that long and if they do, that’s a long time for them to question if you are doing a good job or valued. And if you get it like everyone else for showing up, does it truly feel personalized? I hope a card at least came along with the watch and plaque.
Food for Thought
Recognize and appreciate people at the local level, in a timely fashion, in personalized and meaningful ways. Certainly, the corporate programs are important, but what we are seeing in the most recent studies across North America is that the corporate programs are failing to get the results that we need.
If you have heard some other excuses, please comment below. Let’s get the excuses noted so that we can debunk them. I will deliver another VLOG with ways to combat them.
And why not send this along to others in your organization? Together you can fend off excuses like Wonder Woman does bullets! Fancy, huh?