Recognition that Increases Employee Engagement

Simply saying Great Job is not the recognition that increases employee engagement

Does Recognition Increase Employee Engagement?
We wanted to understand the difference between recognition that increases employee engagement and recognition that does not.  How many times have you heard the phrase “great job” directed at co-workers or even kids on the sports field?  The intention, of course, is to help people feel good about what they are doing and to encourage the desired good behavior and effort you are looking for.  But does it work?

Over-Recognition Can Backfire
We believe that recognition only increases motivation and effort when the receiver feels that it is truly deserved.  A recent study at Stanford cited in Psychology Today showed that “praising effort, not talent, leads to greater motivation and more positive attitudes toward challenges” in the future.  But empty, non-specific, insincere, undeserved, or exaggerated praise (like the generic “great job”) can have the opposite effect.

Yes, it is important for managers to recognize and praise their employees.  In fact that’s a critical attribute of high employee engagement.  But managers need to do it right or employee motivation and effort will be undermined.

Recognition that Increases Employee Engagement
Recognition that increases employee engagement requires five critical qualities if it is to have the desired result.  Recognition that increases employee engagement needs to be:

  • Sincere
    If you don’t genuinely believe that praise is due, forget it. Inauthentic praise rings hollow.
  • Specific
    Get right down to the specifics of the behavior you are recognizing. It will be much more helpful if you tell an employee that their carefully crafted agenda kept everyone on topic than just saying, “Good meeting.”
  • Deserved
    For an employee to feel that they deserve recognition, they should feel that they worked for it. They should have exceeded expectations rather than just have met them.  The extra effort is what you should appreciate and call out.
  • Meaningful
    Know your employees so that when you recognize them it is in a way they will value. Some would rather have a raise than a new title; some prefer public recognition while others are embarrassed at being singled out; some would value more flexibility in their work schedules; and so it goes.
  • Trusting
    If you really want to recognize your employee’s performance, give them opportunities to learn and grow. Show that you trust and value them by rewarding them with more autonomy matched by greater responsibility, visibility and stature—along, of course, with commensurate compensation.

The Bottom Line
If greater employee engagement is the goal (and shouldn’t it be?), then make sure that the way you recognize your team members will have the desired effect of increasing motivation, desired behavior and effort.

To learn more about recognition that increases employee engagement, download The Top 10 Most Powerful Ways To Boost Engagement

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