The Importance of Recognition 

All leaders understand the importance of giving their people timely and meaningful recognition. But not all leaders demonstrate that they understand that importance. Many fall into the trap called the tyranny of the urgent. They get so busy doing things that appear urgent that they allow the important things to fall into oblivion. 

They pay a steep price for that mistake. Failing to recognize deserving team members leads to higher turnover. Especially these days. Failure to recognize top talent significantly decreases their level of engagement. An organization’s most expensive employees are not the ones who are the highest paid. They are the ones who are least engaged. 

When recognition falls so does employee performance. Especially the performance of an organization’s best people. 

In a recent survey of a cross section of employees from various industries the question was asked, “What is the most important thing that your company or manager does that causes you to produce great work? Employees answered in their own words but a clear pattern emerged. 37% of respondents said that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work more often. That is 3 times the second place answer which was “nothing.”

The survey also showed that recognition makes employees feel that promotions are fair. It spurs innovation and drives extra effort. Recognition is also the single greatest driver of positive company culture. 

None of that comes as a surprise to an experienced leader. But even experienced leaders struggle with their priorities. The urgent things that come with managing a business take priority over the importance of leading people. 

Authentic Leaders put recognizing their people at or very near the top of their daily priority list. They block time to recognize people. Their recognition goes well beyond a simple “nice job.” They can state, with great specificity, how their employee’s effort had a positive impact on the organization. Many times that recognition will also come in the form of a hand-written note. They know that investing a few minutes to jot down their thoughts increases the significance of the recognition ten-fold. 

Being “busy” is absolutely no excuse for failing to provide consistent recognition to the people you lead. In fact, it’s when your organization is at it’s busiest that your people most need recognition. And yes, I said need. Recognition is the fuel that lights their fire of productivity. It fuels their determination to excel.

It’s really this simple…if you want your people to perform at a higher level then you’re gonna need to lead at a higher level.  Giving recognition is a key character trait of a high performing leader. So stop reading and go give a deserving member of your team some recognition RIGHT NOW.

On a different subject… Everyone can use a “nudge” towards success. I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

Is Your Leadership Creating Negativity?

Perhaps the better question would be is your lack of leadership creating negativity? Or is there a characteristic missing from your leadership that causes negativity in your organization? 


I like that last question best because you can be an effective leader in some ways but if you’re missing the key ingredients of sincere recognition and consistent feedback then you’re missing the point of leadership. 


The point of leadership is people. Authentic Leaders, and Authentic Servant Leaders in particular, focus on helping their people. They help them succeed. They help them discover their purpose and potential and then they help them achieve them. 


Those leaders understand the importance of recognition and feedback. They seldom miss an opportunity to provide both. 


As a leader I’ve always been consistent in providing feedback but I’ve struggled with giving recognition. I’m not a touchy feely kind of guy. Early in my career I assumed a paycheck was all the recognition someone needed. 


As I’ve grown (that’s code for gotten older) I’ve come to realize that recognition is vital for a person’s mental health. It’s vital for a person to know, without a doubt that another human being sees the value that they bring into the world. 


We all need to know we matter. Some people need that affirmation more than others but everyone needs it to some degree. As a leader one of your prime responsibilities is providing that affirmation. Your people need to hear it. They need to feel it. They need to see it. 


Here is a crucial thing for leaders to understand. Most people, research shows that as much as 85% of the world’s population, suffer from some level of self esteem deficiency. They lack the confidence to know that they matter, that they make a difference, that they would be missed. 


They need rather consistent re-enforcement of that fact. 


If they don’t get it, if it’s not a periodic part of their emotional diet, then they start to doubt their value. Maybe it’s a nagging thought or little concern at first but over time without recognition it grows. It grows to the point where they become convinced that they are NOT of value. 


That doesn’t make them wacky or weak; it makes them human. It happens to all of us at one time or another. 


When that “unvalued” feeling persists long enough a person disengages from the leader or organization that doesn’t value them. Some will then leave the organization and the leader behind. They use what confidence they have left to put themselves into a situation where they might be valued. 


But many won’t leave, they stay and simply go through the motions with their organization. They become disengaged and offer little in return for their paycheck. They can even seek to pull others down to their level. They are labeled as “negative” employees or described as having a negative attitude. 


They may be negative but they were not born that way. They likely didn’t have that attitude the day they started with the organization. That attitude developed over time and it likely started with a feeling that they, and their work, didn’t matter. 


That’s how easy it is for a well-meaning but sometimes thoughtless leader to foster an atmosphere of negativity in their organization. 


No organization, not a single one, can afford that type of atmosphere today. As a leader you must be intentional with your feedback and recognition. I literally recommend to leaders that they put a reminder in their phones to recognize someone each day. 

“Busy” is no excuse for letting your people wonder if they matter. Tell them often because there are few, if any, activities you have to do that could be more important than that.