Employee Recognition: How Much Is Too Much?

Michael Gallagher, .

handsRecognizing the efforts of employees is a key component of keeping them engaged. Positive recognition is an indicator of a positive and collaborative organizational culture. Leaders need to ensure they are recognizing not only the employee but also their work and their opinion. The most important part of recognition is that it be sincere, specific and directed towards the individual rather than a group or team.

The cycle of recognition completely depends on the employee; one employee might need regular reinforcement, say at least once a week, whereas others may need to be recognized less frequently, perhaps monthly. People respond differently and have different needs but it is essential that the manager learn about the individual needs of their staff and respond accordingly.

When recognizing the employee, it is also important to respond when successes occur rather than waiting until a formal review cycle. This partnership between the manager and the employee in terms of work assessment and spontaneous feedback is beneficial for both parties. The employee is engaged and the employer has greater assurance that they will keep getting the results they want.

If the manager has a schedule for when they deliver feedback, then it becomes standard rather than being more spontaneously related to the individual and their specific accomplishments. The manager who has a checklist of the people that need feedback is going about the process in a strictly administrative way instead of truly being engaged with the staff and responsive to what is happening on a day-to-day basis. As with most forms of positive evaluative comments, recognition needs to be tried out a minimum number of times with each individual to find a comfortable rhythm. Combine this with being sincere, specific and directing the feedback towards the individual, and you are creating sustaining employee engagements within your business.

How much recognition is too much?

Sometimes too much recognition can be a problem. A manager needs to be attuned to how the recognition is being received. Is the employee becoming blasé about the feedback or do they seem to be genuinely complimented and supported in their work?

The congratulatory feedback is designed to replicate results. By recognizing quality effort, the manager will create positive results either in quality, production or sales that will continue over the long term. This replication of results is the only true measure of impact of recognition.

Implementing some of the ideas mentioned here can be challenging. If you would like to discuss them in the context of your own specific business please contact us. We’d be glad to help.

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Michael Gallagher

Mike Gallagher, President of Michael Gallagher Advisory, has spent the past 20 years helping small business owners and managers develop and implement strategic business plans, achieve sustainable, targeted growth and solve the problems that keep them up at night.