Twice I’ve been recognized by Rio Salado College as one of its Outstanding Adjunct Faculty members in the Business Department. Fewer than 5% of the 1100 adjunct faculty are awarded this honor, so I am proud and excited about this accomplishment. I work very hard to help my students in every aspect of their learning, including reading comprehension; study and test taking skills; college essay writing; case study analysis; and basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It’s not an easy job, because not every student wants the level of feedback and attention I provide. That’s what makes the award so fulfilling, to learn that my efforts really are appreciated. But I was surprised by another reaction I had to this, besides appreciation: I found myself wanting to do even more. It felt like now I really had to (and wanted to) live up to this title of outstanding adjunct faculty member, and that was a good thing.
What’s the take away for anyone in a leadership role? It’s to remember the power of recognition. You may have heard the expression, “Catch ‘em doing something right!” How wise that advice is. When we tell employees that they did something well and give them specifics, a few things happen. First, they realize someone is actually paying attention to what they do. They understand that it really does matter whether they show up or not. Second, they learn exactly what they did well so they can do it again. And finally, they feel proud and may respond as I did, wanting to do even more. The best part of all for those in leadership is that there is no cost to gain this performance and morale boost. All it takes is awareness on your part and a little bit of time.
As I’ve stated in previous articles, how recognition is given is critical to its effectiveness. Be sure to ASSESS your praise as follows:
- Achievement – Are you acknowledging the employee for the value of what they achieved, not just for taking part in something?
- Specific – Will you recognize a specific accomplishment, avoiding general statements that could apply to anyone?
- Sincere – Have you tested your motives to be sure that you are sincere in your remarks?
- Effort – Are you attributing the outcome to the individual’s effort and competence?
- Spontaneous – Will your recognition be seen natural rather than a routine occurrence (such as an Employee of the Month program where someone has to be chosen)?
- Steady – Can you suggest that the positive results can be maintained by the employee’s steady effort?
Recognition is a manager’s secret weapon, in the best sense. Give it a try today, and see what happens.
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