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Recognition is Easier (and cheaper) Than You Think

While organizations spend time and money to develop formal employee recognition programs and engagement procedures, the methods that are most successful are those that are simpler and cheaper than many think. In fact, the most crucial ones usually cost nothing.

For employees recognition covers everything from having their good work and efforts noticed, to the seemingly mundane gestures of a greeting or asking about their welfare. Often, in the face of a frenetic work environment, senior managers neglect these simple forms of recognition. Not because they are heartless, but because the culture of many workplaces emphasizes problem solving and fixing, leaving issues that are not problematic unacknowledged. 
I hear from employees at every level of organizations that they can do 50 things well and they never hear about it. But when something goes wrong, they hear about it excessively. Negative feedback might not be seen as excessive if there was some balance. The perception of a lack of recognition can be a major cause of dissatisfaction, resentment and a high turnover. 

While monetary rewards should not be given for meeting a tight deadline or solving a client problem, a verbal thank you would be nice. If you are not informally thanking your staff at least two or three times a month, you are missing out on an opportunity to motivate employees without promotions or bonuses. And for more major achievements, don't underestimate the value of a
$4 thank-you card.

Simple ways of showing recognition may seem petty to senior managers, but for staff, the absence of these can send strong messages. Do you take the time to learn about a new employee's interests or family? Do you ask about an employee's vacation? Do you congratulate the employee whose son just got into medical school, or the one who just won their first new client?

You may not hear about the absence of these gestures, but you can be sure they are talked about around the water cooler. Employee perceptions and gossip can produce assumptions about your character that are untrue and may even harm your reputation.

Far too many senior managers use words such as collaborative, and teamwork, but when given the opportunity to exercise these values, they default to telling employees what will be done. People are more likely to buy in to initiatives and actions they feel involved in than those dictated to them.

This can be as simple as asking "what do you think?"

Again, it is the pace of organizational life that makes it seem more efficient to tell. Talking "teamwork" but doing otherwise can disengage employees to the point that any time saved by telling, will be lost in employee disinterest. 
Sometimes, managers fear employees' views will have no use, that they know best and asking what employees think will give them less credibility. Asking employees what they think can actually raise credibility. Just because you ask, does not mean you have to do what employees suggest -the magic is in asking and considering the views of others.

If you want employees to stick around for a while, try some simple engagement and recognition approaches. In the best case, you might find employees provide a new perspective. At worst, you will be seen as thoughtful, considerate and respectful.

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