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GREAT Staff Recognition

On this week ignore the 3 Fs of staff recognition

It’s time to think outside the take-’em-for-lunch box when it comes to deciding how to acknowledge the contributions of support staff during this year’s Administrative Professionals Week (April 24 – 30) and on Administrative Professionals Day (Wednesday, April 27).

Don’t be one of those managers and supervisors who rely on the 3 Fs of staff recognition—food, flowers and fudge (and other fattening treats).

While these traditional ways of expressing appreciation are easy to do—I suspect some bosses actually have their administrative assistants make dining reservations or order their own flowers—they may not be the most appropriate way to mark this once-a-year celebration of support staff and their contributions.

Administrative Professionals Week (known as Professional Secretaries Week prior to 2000) has been sponsored by the International Association of Administrative Professionals since 1952 as a way to honour office workers. On its website (www.iaap-hq.org), the association states that Administrative Professionals Week “has become one of the largest workplace celebrations [and that it is] celebrated world wide.”

As an alternative to lunch and flowers to mark the week, the association suggests other, perhaps more appropriate ways to celebrate.
“According to IAAP members, administrative support personnel prefer observances that recognize and provide opportunities for learning and growth.” Employers could support professional development by paying tuition for staff members who attend college or online courses, membership in professional associations, or registration for conferences or workshops.

The association also makes some gift suggestions, including “business-related items, such as personalized business cards, desktop name-plates, gift certificates, ergonomically correct accessories, computer hardware/software upgrades, or monetary bonuses for exemplary performance.”
What the organization doesn’t say is that there is no one best way to say thank you. Each staff member will have unique recognition preferences. For some, lunch with the boss would be the best way to be recognized. Others would like to receive flowers or candy. Still others would like to attend a course or receive a small work-related gift. Successful staff recognition requires managers and supervisors to know their staff well enough to be able to recognize each individual appropriately during Administrative Professionals Week, and throughout the year.

No matter which way you choose to celebrate the week, keep in mind that people’s needs to be valued for who they are and appreciated for what they do cannot be satisfied by a few gestures once a year during a specific week, despite how appropriate the recognition may be. The need to be recognized is ongoing. People need to be recognized frequently.

When recognition is frequent, people feel reassured that they are valued and their contributions appreciated. Frequent recognition builds trust, teamwork, engagement and relationships

Frequent recognition leads to a culture of recognition. There are workplaces where recognition occurs naturally. Recognition is part of the fabric of the organization—part of everyday life, not a ritual reserved for special occasions.

First published in Briefly Noted by Nelson Scott, April 2011.

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