The Power of Recognition

Written by Joanne Deck. Posted in Academic & Career Success, Blog

OAF Awards Group Photo.10_05_10Twice 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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Joanne Deck

Joanne M. Deck, MBA, SPHR is a certified academic and career coach, educator, public speaker, and author with expertise in higher education, careers, and healthy dating relationships. She has over 20 years of corporate experience as an instructor and tutor, leadership coach, human resources director, wellness and management consultant, and customer service manager and is active with Toastmasters, having achieved the levels of ACS and ALB. Joanne is also the author of Sane Sex for Singles, a three-time winning dating guide for the new millennium. Joanne was born in Rochester, NY and graduated from the University at Albany, NY with a degree in math and an MBA in human resources. She is the mother of young adult twin daughters and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, Roger. Joanne is currently working on her next book, Learning to Receive with Grace and Ease, aimed at helping people become more comfortable and skillful receivers. Her observation is that most people have the giving side of the equation down, but struggle with receiving.

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