How to Put the Employee into Employee Recognition

Employee recognition is a high ticket item when it comes to retention and employer branding. The reality is no one wants to work in an environment where accomplishments go unnoticed. While it’s true employees won’t turn a blind eye to a bonus or raise, studies show that money is only a temporary motivator and is not the biggest factor weighing into your retention and productivity rates. So what does a leader do when their company needs an updated or entirely new recognition program, but doesn’t have an easy option in which to turn? They actually get to know the people who make up their organization, of course!

The Publicist and the Behind the Scenes Folk

Wanda, the extrovert, generally loves attention and thrives off public recognition. She will work every day to have her name mentioned in weekly or monthly meetings. Late nights and early mornings all seem worth it if she is able to pipe up for every client or project the team is working on. You could say that she was meant for the limelight.

On the other hand, Perry, the introvert, doesn’t always have a perfect response teeming on the tip of his tongue, nor does he have a prepared “acceptance face” when the boss starts doling out compliments. In fact, the more his accomplishments are lauded, the more uncomfortable he gets. Add in ambiverts, who fall anywhere between the two extremes, and you have a real managing personalities puzzle.

The Approach: Wanda has an acceptance speech prepared for your verbal pat on the back, but Perry will love nothing more than a sticky note on his cubicle with a simple, penned “Thanks.” Your ambiverts will be happy to receive a quick nod in a meeting, while still cherishing a quieter e-thank you or personal note. Bottom line? Pay attention to reactions when you give them props or praise and work toward their preference.

Tweet This: Work toward your employee’s preference to make them comfortable in the workplace like this: 

Responders, Reactors & More Complications

Personality isn’t just extroverts, introverts and ambiverts and no one can actually be placed in such an exclusive silo. The workforce is made up of humans; thinking, breathing, dimensional humans and another dimension to these individuals lies in their immediate reaction to high-stress situations. Gary is cool under pressure and when there’s an unplanned problem, he’s the one everyone turns to. He’s the resilient teammate everyone needs in order to progress through rough patches but he’s not always available on a day-to-day basis. Tina, however, is level-headed and an incredible team resource every day… until there’s an issue. She doesn’t blow a fuse, but she is uneasy and annoyed. These two people balance each other out when there’s an issue to manage, but what does that mean for your employee recognition program?

Tweet This: There’s more to workplace personalities than your average introverts, extroverts and silos. Read more: 

The Approach: Resilient folk are probably less likely to need constant thank yous and words of affirmation, but reactive individuals may be keeping tally of every piece of positive feedback. Try to keep things even, but if you notice that you have a Tina or two, it might behoove you to plan sending regular thank you notes or giving positive feedback in meetings. Just because Gary works well without regular appreciation doesn’t mean you should forget about him when he’s cleaned up a last minute mess, though!

Adaptivity and the Peer-to-Peer Thank You

A lot of the time, employee recognition is made the sole responsibility of the leader and while hearing that the boss is pleased with your work is wonderful, it’s not the only driving factor. Studies show that positive peer-to-peer relationships can make employees perception of the workplace positive as well. While this is great, it isn’t an easily cultivated process. The challengers of your office are generally skeptical of establishment and generally more concerned with their own deliverables. The adapters of your group are generally more team-oriented and, in turn, are more apt to notice the accomplishments of others.

Tweet This: Employee recognition isn’t exclusively a leadership responsibility. Read more: 

The Approach: There is no guarantee that you can rely on one person to always notice and another to never, but understanding that part of your team’s personality will give you a look into who might need more guidance in being appreciative. The best way to begin encouraging peer-to-peer recognition is by leading with example. When everyone feels their talents are noticed, no one will feel like they should hide the good work of their colleagues.

“Multiple reasons [to communicate appreciation] exist, including some that are self-serving, but foundationally appreciation for colleagues communicates a sense of respect and value for the person.” – Paul White, Psychologist & Author

No one is denying that it’s difficult to know what will drive absolutely every one of your employees and there’s sympathy for the companies who have such a large group that it’s near impossible to know exactly what makes the workforce tick, but if you want success, you’ll develop a system that helps a multitude of personalities. A few monetary rewards sprinkled with affirmative words and specially crafted traditions like the occasional casual or teleworking days can make for an effective and affordable recognition program. What does your company do to show its employees appreciation? Is it working?

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