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Peer Recognition

What is Peer Recognition Day and why is important?

While researching Thanks! GREAT Job!, I discovered the power of peer recognition. Staff members truly value the praise they receive from their co-workers. Many see recognition from their colleagues as more Genuine than recognition from any other source.

Wanting to highlight the importance of the recognition staff members provide to co-workers and to encourage more of it, I propose that one day a month—the third Tuesday—be designated as Peer Recognition Day.

While recognition from managers and supervisors is important, it should not been seen as the only sources of authentic recognition. There is real power in the recognition that one staff member provides to a colleague for what the staff member achieved or how she contributed.

Praise from co-workers has a credibility that is different from that afforded by recognition from supervisors. After all, who knows better what an employee does than someone who works beside him, or who does the same or similar job? Who is a better judge of results than someone who depends on a co-worker to do her job well so she can do her job well?

Supervisors see the results of employees’ efforts, but co-workers understand what is being done to achieve those results. They see their teammates’ daily frustrations when things go wrong. They experience similar joys when things go well. Unlike supervisors, co-workers are there to witness others doing their jobs well. They are able to provide Timely recognition, often as soon as they see behaviour that contributes to success.

Unleash the power of peer recognition by observing Peer Recognition Day in your workplace. Remind staff of the importance of peer recognition and encourage them to acknowledge others for their achievements and contributions on the third Tuesday each month . . . and on every other day of the month, as well.

Ways to encourage peer recognition:

  • Make thank-you cards available to everyone. Encourage staff to use them to acknowledge their co-workers.

  • Create a pass-along award that one co-worker can present to another when the latter does well. The objective is to keep the award moving, never resting on any one desk for more than a couple of days. The award itself can be anything—a repurposed sports trophy, a stuffed toy or a special banner. What counts is the message of appreciation that accompanies the award.

  • Set aside time at staff meetings for staff members to thank each other. Demonstrate the significance of recognition by scheduling this activity for early in the meetings, which is where the most important topics should appear on an agenda.

  • Invite staff to tell you when a co-worker has been particularly helpful. Follow up with a note to this staff member letting her know you are aware that she did well.

  • Recognition is infectious. When you take time to praise deserving people regularly, they will learn from the behaviour you are modelling. They will begin to recognize the efforts and achievements of others more often.

  • Encourage more peer recognition by praising staff members who recognize their colleagues.

  • Provide each staff member with a supply of tokens with which to acknowledge co-workers for their contributions. Explain that they should present a token when they witness actions that contribute to the team’s success, reflect the organization’s values, or will help the organization meet its goals or fulfil its mission (i.e. Relevant behaviour). Whenever they present a token—whether in person, left on a colleague’s desk, or placed in a mailbox—they should explain why the presentation is being made. Provide opportunities for recipients to exchange tokens for gifts that they would find Appropriate: a coffee shop gift card, an extended break, or something from the collection of treats you keep on hand for this purpose. Have them come to you to redeem their tokens. Ask them why they were recognized by their peers. Allow them to relive their successes.

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