Three Secrets to Recognition: Making it Easy to Recognize your Peers, Staff and Clients


When I was flying back from a recent speaking engagement, I happened to be sitting beside somebody who, I learned very quickly, was an incredibly motivated middle manager. He was on the way up in his career and very passionate about his people. When he asked me what I did, I shared I was a recognition expert, he excitedly peppered me with questions.

  • What is the value of recognition?
  • How could I do more of it?
  • Given I travel so much, how can I do it from another country?

That question inspired me to create this post, because he’s not the only one who has these and related questions. For busy professionals like him, here are three essential ingredients to successful recognition:

1. Have the tools for recognition available.

Have a stack of “thank you” cards in your office or work bag. If you are really savvy, you’ll already have them stamped with your return address! All you need to do is fill out the card, write the person’s name, and pop it in the mail. If it goes to their home, think about the impact of that for the person receiving it! What a wonderful way for them to be able to share it with their family.

I have a product, called, “FROG Kudos Cards” that some of the folks that I know, they keep two in their pocket every single day. They put them in their pocket at the beginning of the day and they find somebody to give it to, whether personally handed over or placed in one of those envelopes. Whatever your ritual is, find recognition tools that you can have handy. You are so much more likely to recognize people when the resources and tools are at your disposal.

At a recent International Conference I spoke at, after the break, one of the business owners came back with a big smile on his face. I inquired if he had taken out my homework of recognizing a colleague over coffee with a compliment card. He replied, “I actually went down to the gift shop and bought enough postcards and stamps to write a thank-you card for every member of my team and I’m sending them before I go to bed tonight.” I was so impressed! Now that is a resourceful man! If he can do it in the middle of a conference in another country, think about how much easier you can continue recognition with the tools already available!

2. Intention

When you are engaging in a discussion with your team, “How are we going to use recognition?” be intentional. Knowing what you believe will be better as a result. And be ready to break down barriers and support the converted. Be intention about making it work.

I was recently doing some work with a group that wanted to make sure that the moms and kids in their facility were able to feel valued and appreciated. They were able to talk about all the ways in which they already do it as well as some very specific strategies. That led to a beautiful conversation about how they could do the same things in their team meetings. Thinking intentionally about how you can do this daily or on a weekly with each other meant that doing it for their clients would be that much easier and more natural! When you have your team doing it, you not only have accountability, you also have greater sustainability.

3. Experiment

If you notice somebody doing something that deserves acknowledgment, don’t lose that opportunity. For example, I carry little squishy frogs in my purse. My brand is FROG – Forever Recognize Others Greatness™. When I FROG a perfect stranger, of course, handing over a little squishy frog and saying, “Have you been frogged lately?”, which can sometimes get a strange reaction, of course. I will tell them what it means and then say, “And the greatness I want to recognize in you is…” That is something I don’t plan, I just spontaneously do it in the moment.

By catching people off guard and surprising them, that’s the exponential power of recognition. It means more, because you’re surprising people. It’s something they are not expecting. This kind of surprise factor will go farther than if somebody shows up, for example, to an annual award ceremony. Spontaneously acknowledge people in whatever way you are comfortable with. How can you experiment with different ways of recognizing individuals organically in the moment? How can you take recognition efforts that are going “stale” and mix them up? You don’t have to do it alone! Think it through with others and try some things! What is the worst that can happen? Believe me, it’s worst if folks thing you don’t care and aren’t noticing their greatness.

I hope you have found this really helpful. For more recognition tools and tips daily, why not check out my Flash Briefing on Amazon Alexa. You can have an app, you can have the device and you can also subscribe to Podbean, and every day you’ll get a new juicy insight to keep your recognition going, to retain your best people, delight your customers, and of course make sure you love your job.

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

– Mother Teresa

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Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

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