Whether you have a brand new employee or one that has been with you for any length of time, it is difficult to overstate the importance of providing regular feedback and recognition. Yet, too many bosses prefer a “no news is good news” approach to employee communication. The idea that people “just know” if they are doing a good job is not only false but it creates situations that lead to poor engagement, misalignment of performance standards, and can even result in the loss of a valuable team member.
Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote a book on parenting that is relevant to this conversation. Dr. Dyer posited that all humans crave attention. Because humans need this attention, they seek it via whatever method is most effective. This means that you can get the best out of your employees if you give your attention to the behaviors that you most value. He called it, “Catching them doing it right.”
Obviously, there are some behaviors that are so dangerous or problematic, you should not ignore them. You’ll need to address these actions right away along with clear information about what change you require. However, parents who choose their battles carefully can ignore some behaviors in favor of praising better choices. This means giving attention only to those actions they want to continue.
While Dr. Dyer’s book is about parenting, I have found that a similar approach works well with employees. Employees crave attention from the boss as much as children crave attention from their parents.
I titled this article “Intentional Recognition” because I want to emphasize the need to be deliberate, consistent, and intentional about providing recognition to your employees. It is the combination of the three elements that deliver the desired results.
The first step is to evaluate the way you, the boss, pays attention to others at this point in time. Then, make deliberate choices to improve your methodology. Being deliberate means that you think through your approach and choose to make changes to your own behavior to meet the objective. It might mean scheduling regular meetings with staff members. It might mean planning recognition events. Or it might entail putting tasks in your calendar that guarantees you are on hand to notice when staff members are doing a great job.
Most of us can fairly easily choose to do something different for a few days or weeks. This is where consistency comes into play. We only get the results we want when we create a culture that rewards specific behaviors over time. That means we need to teach our staff what to expect from us and make these behaviors into habits. Bosses who naturally work this way don’t struggle with these behaviors, but most of us need to work on making these changes permanently part of what we do.
The application of both being deliberate and consistent is the act of intentionally recognizing your employees. Let me be clear. Recognition may include annual awards ceremonies or picking an employee of the month, but that isn’t really what I’m talking about. These events happen too infrequently to create change in your culture. In many cases, it isn’t a monetary reward either. Remember that people crave attention. I’m referencing actions you take daily or weekly that encourage your employees to feel valued, to know when they are delivering the way you want them to, and to be confident in what they need to do to continually exceed your expectations.
Another aspect of recognizing your employees is figuring out what works for each one. Some people like an encouraging note. Others like to be verbal praise. Some literally want a pat on the back. Utilizing the concept of love languages can help you know what kind of attention gets the best results with each employee. There is a simple, online test that identifies someone’s love language (insert link here https://5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language). Why not have your team members each take the test and share their results with a brief explanation? You’ll have valuable information about recognizing your team and you’ll start a culture of recognizing each other’s individual preferences. Remember, it is easiest to give recognition in your favorite style. It will take a deliberate effort to learn how to recognize each style and how to use the best method each time.
What we talked about here may all sound like a lot of effort. I want you to consider how much effort it took to find these employees, to train them, and then to ensure you had the money to pay them each payday. Each time you have to start over looking for a new employee, you invest all over again. Why not invest in keeping the employees you have and getting the most out of each one? You’ll likely find this is the best use of your time, effort, and funds.
Charlise Latour a business coach and owner of Accelerate Your Success. She works with each client to determine what their goals are and create a plan so they can achieve them. She is actively involved in Dancing & Singing With The King which raises money to promote dance education including working with local schools to offer dance classes during the school day. This is a natural fit as she is an avid ballroom dancer.