Great leaders understand that they can never give enough recognition as long as it is honest and deserved. For many employees, the right kind of recognition is as valued as monetary rewards. But too often leaders make these errors:

The throw-away thank you – Delivering a quick (and superficial) “hey thanks for that” without describing what was appreciated and why.

Window dressing praise to soften criticism – Saying something “nice” as the front-end and back-end to critical feedback as a way to ease the blow.

The one size fits all thank you – Failing to realize and act on the fact that people differ in the kind of recognition they want (e.g., public, private, formal, informal, verbal, material, etc.).

Here are five tips for leaders who want to create a recognition-rich environment on their teams:

1. Encourage recognition coming from many sources – not just you. Actively create moments for everyone on your team to express authentic praise and appreciation.

2. Choose the right time and place to give recognition to ensure that there are no distractions or interruptions.

3. Make recognition the single topic of discussion – not one item on a laundry list of points or as bookends to critical feedback.

4. Mean it when you say it. There is nothing less motivating than receiving recognition that the recipient and others know is not really deserved.

5. AIM your thank you with precision. When you deliver recognition make sure it contains these elements:
A — is for action. Be specific about what the person did that you appreciated.
I — is for impact. Describe the valued outcome associated with their actions.
M — is for matters. Describe why you value it.

What additional tips do you have for delivering high-impact recognition?

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