It's getting to be widely recognized that office productivity is tied to recognition - for instance a recent report by Aberdeen Research said that leading organizations achieve a competitive advantage and create a culture of recognition by empowering managers with the tools they need, leveraging social recognition tools, and embracing analytics. The dark side of this knowledge is that some managers are starting to use recognition the way an animal trainer doles out dog treats, offering praise indiscriminately in order to get results.
In order for recognition to be effective it must be genuine. This takes some effort and thought on the part of the recognize-er. Let's look at this a little closer with a few examples:
You freely hand out the "atta-boy" and the "ol' slug on the shoulder" to whomever is close by no matter what state of mind they are in. Employees are likely to view this kind of "recognition" for what it is - insincere and unhelpful. Faint praise can actually be corrosive to workplace morale.
You bring in bagels to acknowledge the efforts of your workers and say thanks. Your team will appreciate this, your efforts can build goodwill, and they will lend their support if you ask.
Greg takes the effort to make double-sided copies to save the office some money. You recognize his specific effort and thank him for it. Greg feels that his effort is meaningful and will look for other ways to save money.
You thank Greg for taking initiative but you also ask him how he came up with the idea. You also ask him if making double-sided copies saves time as well as money. Greg responds that he's thought about this and done a time study. Greg tells you that it takes two seconds longer to make double-sided copies but it cuts paper costs by 50%. It also cuts costs related to filing and shredding. Convinced that Greg is on to something here you invite him to share his insight with the rest of the department, training people on how to use the copier if necessary.
This last form of recognition, truly understanding a worker's contribution, goes the farthest to building productivity. Now that Greg knows you value his contribution and initiative he is more likely to move beyond making a personal contribution and into a team leadership role. Chances are that he will also be more likely to genuinely recognize the efforts of his coworkers as well.
Read the case study on how WSPS engaged their office and remote employees after a merger of three well-established organizations using TemboSocial Recognition.