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5 ways to harness the power of recognition



HR leaders don’t let good work and extra efforts go unnoticed. But your front-line managers might not recognize the power of recognition.

Employees who feel appreciated by their boss are incredibly more engaged than those who don’t feel the love. In fact, researchers at The Energy Project and Harvard Business Review found appreciated employees are:

  • 53% more focused on their work
  • 59% more engaged in their work, and
  • 109% more likely to stick with their company.

Consistency behind power of recognition

Of course, this kind of engagement isn’t just the result of occasional pats on the back and pizza parties.

The key to having a positive impact is consistent, honest appreciation and recognition. It’s critical for any manager to schedule time and resources to dish out praise and reward.

Then use these five tips to recognize employees and keep them engaged in the workplace:

1. Plan your intentions

Don’t leave appreciation and recognition to chance. Try planning your intentions.

“Thinking through probable scenarios and formulating your response ahead of time helps turn intention into reality,” says Michael Hyatt, a leadership and management expert.

For instance, say or write, “If Sue finishes the paperwork today, I will stop by her desk and thank her in person – and maybe even suggest she head home early!”

2. Highlight specifics

Any praise is helpful. But precise praise is the most effective.

When you’re specific about what employees brought to the table, you show that you pay attention and their efforts matter.

Refer to an exact action, behavior or idea and how it positively affected colleagues, a project, the company, etc. Try to cite the exact time and place it happened. Then focus heavily on the positive impact it will continue to have on the external factors.

3. Share your success

Most leaders experience lots of wins – deals made, deadlines met, projects complete, employees happy, etc.

While it’s important to be aware of what went well — and how you can replicate it going forward — it’s more important to shine the spotlight on others who had some impact.

When you experience success, look for ways to acknowledge the contributions of your employees and colleagues. Tell them how you feel about their contributions – “I was proud when you hit your numbers” – and how it affected the success – “It helped our whole team surpass the goal, which was the major reason I was recognized by the CEO this quarter.”

4. Listen

Employees who feel their boss treats them with respect are 63% more satisfied with their jobs than those who don’t feel a significant level of respect.

Respect is more often gained through listening than talking. Employees are happiest when they feel free to contribute new ideas and take initiative.

Present problems and challenges to employees more often, then sit back and listen to their ideas. Ask a few questions if necessary to generate solutions. Recognize contributions. Reward initiative.

Equally important, make sure employees understand when you can’t use their ideas. You might be able to encourage them to push good ideas forward on other projects or problems.

5. Be positive

Research shows a leader’s optimism and positive attitude rubs off. Employees with positive bosses are more engaged, enjoy work and consider their contributions significant.

You don’t have to look on the sunny side of everything. But avoid being negative. Address problems with solutions, rather then dwell on them. Encourage employees to bring at least three possible solutions with their concerns.

It’s still OK to call out failures. But from there you’ll want to help employees identify the lessons from failures that can be carried into the next project.

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