Recognising why your recognition strategies are missing their mark

A leader of character makes sure that people are recognised for work that delivers results. 


Do you get a little (lot!) frustrated by people you lead failing regularly to go the extra mile or to really pull out all the stops? Do you have people in your team who need lots of praise after what seems to be just the most mundane of achievements? Then read on because this post will help you understand yourself and those people a little more and the impacts will be your leadership improves ... 

Stating the (not so) obvious

The people you lead may well not have the same drive and motivation to succeed as you do. If they did, they’d be the leader of your team or organisation instead of you. Recognising that what got you to the exalted position you now hold (!) is unique to you, is often a good wake up call for leaders - especially those who cherish high performance. Those you lead are unlikely to possess all these qualities to the same degree you do - yet!

So what? 

Well, my guess is that your ability to self-start and consistently turn up and do the right thing is a very (very!) good thing, that enabled you to become a leader in the first place. It may also be something that produces a ‘blind-spot’ in the way you lead. You may fall into the trap - as so many senior leaders we work with have - that results in you failing to recognise the relative efforts and outputs of those you lead. And if you want those you lead to perform consistently at a higher level than is the case currently, you ar going to need to recognise them when they have put in an especially good effort or produced a particularly good result. 

Sounding all too soft and fluffy? 

“Why” you ask yourself “would they need recognising? They’re just doing their job.”

And we agree. Wholeheartedly.

However, what you see as people ‘just doing their job’ can have been the result of a lot of effort, relatively speaking, for people who are not at a similar level of development as you, or who do not posses the same levels of inner drive to succeed that you do. You are in danger of looking at their work from your own framework and whilst ultimately, you will want your team to be equally (or heaven forbid, even more!) driven than you are, you will do well to recognise the position from which you are reviewing their work as well as their starting performance point, which is of course, radically different from your current level of performance. 

How can you help? 

Recognition. People - even high performers who say they don’t - thrive on external recognition. Therefore, as a leader your job, despite any initial reluctance, is to look for ways to recognise people in your team for work well done.

Two important points that will make your recognition even more effective:Timing and Delivery. 

The timeliness of the feedback you provide is key to this process: Don’t wait until three weeks after the event to grudgingly share a word of congratulation, dive in quickly, as close to the actual success is delivered, as you can, it makes a heck of difference to people who are then able to make a clearer connection between their actions and the feedback. 

Delivery: I want to ask/tell/demand that you avoid an all too common error when recognising someone else’s efforts, namely actually undermining the very achievement you are trying to recognise. Here's an example that might sound worryingly familiar: 

Erin: “Hey Boss, I secured 9 out of 10 of those key sales meetings we needed for next week?" 

You: “Good job Erin. What happened the 10th meeting? Why couldn't you secure that one? Did you try X,Y and Z? etc etc”

When you are recognising someone in your senior team, it is entirely possible with your position and experience you can see gaps to be filled or improvements that could have been made. Please find a way of exploring those enhancements in a way that doesn’t dilute the recognition you are trying to communicate. It is dispiriting and undermines the effort the person has put in. 

Performance Edge Partners help organisations to improve the quality of their leadership bench - when you are ready, we'll be delighted to discuss your needs. Contact us here

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Recognising why your recognition strategies are missing their mark
Posted On
Nov 7, 2016
Posted In
Embedding sustainable change  Engaging people 

John Lewis
Little Hearts Matter