Studer Community Institute

Tips to boost reward and recognition in your business

Businessman drawing business strategy concepts with chalk

“If I recognize them too much, they will get a big head.”

“They will become complacent.”

“Why recognize simple tasks … It is common sense.”

All these statements have one thing in common: They are myths, solely created to rationalize why a leader does not reward and recognize employees for doing a good job.

You mean I’m supposed to recognize people for doing their job?”

Yes, if you’d like them to keep doing their job. During a play, a concert or a sporting event, do you not applaud because “they’re just doing their job?”

When a company’s workforce completes engagement surveys, one of the questions that usually does not score well is “I am recognized for doing a good job.”

But here’s what many leaders don’t get about this issue: Recognized behavior, no matter how big or small, gets repeated.

Quint Studer

Quint Studer

I’ve written before about the studies that show it takes three positive statements for every one negative statement for an employee to feel positive about their supervisor.

Recognizing good performance does not come naturally to many people.

Try this test. Think about the last time your boss said, “Can I see you for a moment?” There’s a good chance your first thought wasn’t “Wow, here comes some more good news!”

A common mistake supervisors fall into is thinking that an employee must go above and beyond to earn a compliment. This limits the opportunity to reinforce behavior that a company needs from each employee, every day.

Don’t worry, offering reward and recognition can be taught and learned.

Here are some tips.

 — See it, say it. When you see an employee taking the right action, talk about it. It can be as quick as “Jimmy, when the person ordered their drink, I saw how you greeted them, repeated the order, told them how long the latte would take and when you gave it to them, you thanked them. That is excellent and makes for great service, which builds customers. Thank you.”

— Don’t hide the compliment. Co-workers notice what behavior gets complimented. When the Studer Community Institute provides supervisory training, we use this demonstration: We take a table of participants and say “You are now working in a department.” An SCI faculty, playing the role of the supervisor, walks up to the table and recognizes one of the participants in a very positive way. The supervisor then says just hello to the others. He or she does not recognize them because they are not doing the recognized behavior. We ask the unrecognized people how long will it take them to also do the recognized behavior after hearing the compliment. The answer is right away. Don’t forget to connect the employee with why their action is so important.

— Ask “Who should I recognize?” Ask your employees — and customers — “who should I recognize?” This will create lots for opportunities to recognize staff.

— Call a group huddle. At times, call your employees together and recognize staff and give examples of why they are being recognized. Be specific. The more specific the recognition is, the greater the impact it will have.

— Send a note home. If you oversee managers, assign them to send you an email about someone who deserves a thank you on a regularly rotation. Use the e-mail to send a note to the employee’s home thanking them. Be specific, and be sure to let the employee know this was due to a compliment from his or her. I often will enclose the e-mail I received so the employee can also read it. They then have received two positive messages.

A leader’s job is to gain followers, create more leaders and develop others. Recognizing good performance is a vital leadership skill.