Employee recognition and appreciation is quite possibly one of the most powerful, positive means of impacting employee engagement, productivity and retention in the shortest amount of time. But quick “drive-by” recognition (a tossed off “Hey! Great job!” on your way to the coffee machine) delivers none of these benefits.
If you’re going to invest in recognition that drives results, then go the extra distance and take a nap. No, not that kind of nap – a NAP (Notice, Acknowledge, Proclaim).
1) Notice – “I see you.”
For most people, being invisible is the most demotivating of experiences at work. Simply noticing others is, in itself, an act of giving. When we notice someone, we are powerfully communicating they and their work are worth paying attention to. Noticing others takes effort on our part. We must pick our heads up out of our own work and our own priorities to validate the work of others around us.
But noticing isn’t enough.
2) Acknowledge – “Your work matters.”
Seeing the good work others do, but not commenting on it is like watching your child take his or her first step but not exclaiming to one and all about the accomplishment. Telling someone you not only see the work they do, but also how that work matters is doubly powerful. “Meaningful work” is a refrain reaching across all generations. That means we know the work we do is having a greater impact beyond ourselves – our efforts help a colleague, the team, the customer or the company succeed – and we know how.
And yet, acknowledging isn’t enough, either.
3) Proclaim – “We celebrate you.”
Sharing how others’ contributions are making a difference delivers the most return on your recognition investment. Too often in the workplace, we speak in abstracts – goals, objectives, strategies. Specific, detailed recognition that calls out how the recipient demonstrated a core value or contributed to achieving a strategic objective makes those values and objectives real in terms of the daily work. Many people beyond the recipient can learn from that recognition. Additionally, sharing the successes of others gives everyone the opportunity to add their own messages of goodwill and congratulations on the achievement.
So, what does taking a NAP with recognition look like? Perhaps something like this (to our esteemed Compensation Café editor, Ann Bares):
“Ann, thank you for all you do to keep this headstrong group of contributors in line and on time to deliver an always interesting, always educational blog for people in the compensation and total rewards profession. I know how difficult it is to marshal my own time and thoughts; I can only imagine the exponential challenge of doing so with more than a half-dozen writers, plus your own posts. You get us scheduled, you keep us on task, and – yes – you motivate us. You are consistent in sharing with us praise you receive for the blog so we may all celebrate each other’s successes together. Thank you for setting aside the time in very busy calendar to help us all deliver a quality product.”
And now I’m counting on you, readers and fellow contributors, to help with the “Proclaim” step. What would you add?
Also, what’s the best recognition you’ve received? What made it special and memorable to you?
As Globoforce’s Head of Strategic Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. His articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin, Montreal and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @globoforce.