Creating a Workplace Culture of Praise and Recognition CEO Insights 09-6-2022 By Jim Steinlage President & Chief Executive Officer A fundamental human need is the desire for recognition from family, friends, coaches, spouses, teachers, superiors, etc. It is one of the basic needs so many children lack getting from their parents growing up. Do we ever consider what may cause teenage children getting into serious trouble or surrounding themselves with the wrong people? Have we ever considered if these people are getting the praise, recognition, and pats on the back? It’s about being part of something even though it may not be good for them. If a child’s home was filled with constant criticism and no praise it can destroy self-image and make them vulnerable. Yes, there is time for teaching, but it is so much more effective when it is sprinkled in with sincere praise. It should come as no surprise the workplace is the same way. The value of disciplining will be received and will be more effective when it comes in a culture filled with praise and recognition. Employee praise and recognition help organizations: Retain talent Increase employee engagement Encourage performance Increase efficiency While most organizations understand that encouragement, feedback, and reward are some of the most effective ways to motivate team members, many remain unsure of how to go about using praise to inspire individuals and teams to do their best work. The Power of Praise Even a simple “thank you” can make a big difference in how employees feel about their work. The lack of appreciation can result in feelings of low self-worth. Organizations that fail to create a culture of recognition in the workplace can find themselves with staff who disengage from or leave their jobs altogether. Team members may feel that what they contribute isn’t respected or valued. Without a culture of gratitude that ties recognition to performance an organization could lose good team members. Basic acknowledgement of achievements is a significant boost for employee performance and morale. Praise and recognition connect team members to the organization, encourage buy-in to company WIG’s (Wildly Important Goals), and increase retention rates. The power of gratitude benefits both the giver as well as the receiver. It is in giving we receive. How to Introduce Praise into the Workplace Employee recognition is acknowledging and praising employee behavior or achievement. Great organizations use it successfully to motivate employees, express appreciation, and reinforce desired behavior. It creates teachable moments. It starts from the top level of an organization having a servant attitude. Five Reasons for Praise and Recognition in the Workplace: To highlight goal achievement. People need to know their hard work isn’t going unnoticed. When team members put in relentless effort to achieve a goal or get a win, words of praise can amplify how good they feel about themselves. To motivate future effort. Recognition isn’t only about past performance. When employees receive praise for going above and beyond, they develop an emotional connection to the workplace that fuels future behaviors. To reinforce values. Connecting praise and recognition habits to an organization’s purpose and values will build your brand, reinforces business goals, boosts engagement and productivity. Representative. Everyone can participate and it creates sense of belonging with no bias. Peer-to-Peer. Praise from a community where people work and spend so much time can be rewarding and create more expectations of future enthusiastic behavior. It will set a positive example for co-workers and becomes contagious. What are the most effective ways to create a culture of praise and recognition? Make it Easy to Celebrate Employees Efforts One of the best ways to do this is to establish regular and consistent celebrations of individuals and teams. Regular peer-to-peer and management recognition sessions create a culture of mutual support and pay dividends in the form of boosted morale, improved customer service, and lower absenteeism. All these factors impact your organization’s bottom line. Give Effective Praise Not all types of praise are created equal. Team members are aware when it’s superficial or insincere. Make it a daily habit. Create a daily list of outstanding efforts so it’s not forgotten. Make time first or the last of the day to reflect on exceptional efforts or special touches. Be sincere. Don’t praise merely for the sake of applauding. Be specific with feedback that shows you’ve genuinely were aware of the work or efforts. If necessary, create a bulleted list of things that stood out. Be unique. Use different words and ways to praise. Ex: person to person, voice, email, text, handwritten notes, department, or all team recognition. Balanced approach. Always praise before being critical of improvements needed. It shows you are sincere and care about wanting to help them improve and it will be received much more openly. Put value with words. Words go a long way in making team members feel appreciated, but they’ll only go so far if workers are underpaid or overworked. Be sure we keep awareness to proper rewarding for the efforts otherwise accolades will become meaningless. Focus Praise on Outcomes, not Personal Traits Instead of praising an employee’s personal traits, which can sometimes trigger resentment from other team members, acknowledge relentless efforts they did based on the project’s objective or company goals and values. It is important that praise is consistent, fair, and trusting. It also helps to remind employees of why their work is so valuable to overall objectives. Instead of a simple thank you, tie in the employee’s accomplishment to how it impacts customers, clients, other employees, or the companies WIG’s. Create a Culture of Praise and Recognition It’s common to hear CEOs and senior leadership say their workforce is like one big family. We do, as we take very seriously the commitments made to us by team members and their families when we make decisions. We know as organizations continue growing that’s very difficult. Other metrics like ROI and stock prices are a major part of decisions that affect overall direction as companies grow and get outside investments. Family members depend on unconditional support and love, but employees are typically judged for their performance. Regardless of the size of the organization coaches must provide objective feedback with both private and public praise and recognition. Regular shared merited recognition will greatly enhanced team working to a higher potential. Words, praises, and notes costs almost nothing but a few minutes. Focus on having a servant’s heart and take a little time to observe and reflect. It can motivate your team to perform its best and happiest. To make creating a culture of praise easier you should also consider investing in transforming technologies. It will help employee productivity, engagement, and satisfaction. The right digital tools can allow employees to do their job with ease and efficiency. It will open the door to more opportunities for recognition and reward and foster a positive culture that heightens the employee experience.