GREAT Staff Recognition

In some workplaces, criticism is common...praise isn’t

You may have seen the commercial. It begins with people hurrying about in a typical office. The camera shifts its focus to an open office door.

A voice booms from within: “Hey…who shipped the 200 cartons to our client in Boston?”

Immediately, all activity in the outer office stops. Employees scurry away, doing their best to disappear into the background. A frightened and confused young man stands alone. A gruff-looking, older man who obviously occupies a position of authority, steps from his office.

He points at the young man standing before him. “Was it you, Lewis?”

“I shipped them with FedEx,” he admits hesitantly.

With his demeanor unchanged, the manager continues. “Lewis, you are a heck of a man doing a heck of a job!” That said, he turns and returns to his office, leaving a dazed Lewis uncertain about what just happened. Behind him, co-workers emerge from their hiding places, safe in the knowledge that the manager has retreated to his lair.

This commercial is effective because so many viewers can relate to what Lewis and his co-workers experience. Managers appear only when it is time to criticize. In this kind of workplace, positive feedback and recognition are unknown.

The manager wanted to praise Lewis for doing his job well, but failed to do so effectively. Seeing the manager headed his way, Lewis anticipated criticism for selecting the wrong shipping company. Even after hearing what the manager said, Lewis remained confused. Had he really chosen the right courier company? Was the boss pleased with his choice?

It seems clear that praise was appropriate in this situation. Lewis had made the right choice of shipping companies. What he did was relevant to the company meetings its goals. But did Lewis understand this? Did his co-workers?

When recognition is done well, it specifically identifies what the recipient has done well. It also reminds co-workers what behaviours are valued by the organization and relevant to its success. In an organization where praise is more common, co-workers would not have gone into hiding when the manager appeared. They would have stayed and heard him describe what Lewis had done and why it was important.

During his Staff Recognition & Retention seminars, Nelson Scott emphasizes the value of genuine, timely, specific, personalized and relevant recognition in making the organization more successful, increasing commitment, improving morale and reducing turnover.

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