An Insatiable Urge for All
Madan Lal Pradhan
“Recognition” is an effective human resource intervention to inspire and energize people for value addition in their core area of operation. The need for recognition is a never-ending human urge, be it for CEOs, senior managers, or employees down the line.
When employees feel valued at work, it increases their engagement, productivity, and even loyalty to organizations. Recognition shows employees that they’re valued, and they aren’t invisible. This is especially important with remote work, where it’s even easier for employees to feel like their work isn’t being seen. However, there is one caveat. In order to be successful, recognition has to be done properly, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
Recognition reinforces the positive. Recognition reinforces what we want to see more of, thereby allowing us to see more good work and better performance. Many organizations have yearly formal reviews that provide employees with the insight they need to determine how to grow in their position or develop the skills needed to move up. These can be extremely useful in the professional development of employees. However, it’s the daily ‘micro messages and nudges’ that leaders provide to employees that have the most profound impact on employee performance and reinforce more positive behaviors.
When you recognize employees for doing a good job, it shows them you are paying attention and invested in them as people. This will make them want to work harder for the good of the organization, not just for their own personal gain or for incentives. According to the employee engagement software company Quantum
Workplace, “When employees are recognized for a job well done, they don’t have to worry about whether they’re putting in good work.”
Recognition, whether it’s in the form of an award, a bonus, a promotion, a raise, or a simple ‘thank you’ will show your employees that you care, especially if it’s done authentically and consistently. The specific tools available for recognition are Suggestion Schemes, Open House Meetings with staff, Best Employee Award, Quality Circles, Reward linked to Results, accelerated promotion for high fliers, nomination on Task Force Committee, Job Enlargement and Job Enrichment, association with Strategy and Policy Formulation Committee, Sponsorship on training programs within the country and abroad, Rites of celebration and reactivation and similar other options with direct linkages to boosting employees’ morale.
Research has shown that happy workers use their time more effectively and are more productive, often working faster without sacrificing quality. There are many ways leaders can make their teams happy and boost their performance, such as fostering a caring culture.
The creation of a caring and enabling work climate depends on the values, attitudes and managerial style of the top management. The commitment of the top management as reflected in the implementation of Company Policy across the hierarchy should not only be visible but also be experienced by one and all. The process of internalization is possible through institutionalized leadership. This is done with built-in positive and negative mechanisms.
Workplace communication– top-down, bottom-up, horizontal and external– does play an important role. Such a system will bring transparency-a key competitive asset for achieving synergy. The most effective form of communication is team briefing- focusing on progress, policy and people. It empowers employees and creates a certain level of commitment. It controls grapevines besides improving upward communication to enable the management to feel the feelings of their employees.
The social internalization of the top management does play a very vital role. If individuals coming from liberal backgrounds, born and brought up in a caring family atmosphere are in senior positions in the management hierarchy, they try to create a similar climate in work situations with a deep sense of commitment to human values. This creates harmony with its cascading impact on organizational planning. The induction program for new recruits gives them a feeling that the company cares for them. They feel welcome and wanted. This positive perception formed initially helps them mold their attitudes and work style in conformity with the corporate image, leading to their integration with the company’s goals. To ensure conformity to company cultures, while selecting new persons, there has to be total matching of role descriptions with job specifications/candidate profiles.
Very often, we are influenced by the skill sets of the candidates without matching their overall personality profile with the company value system. Such selections have proved very costly with their adverse effects on the company’s image and bottom line. Culture building is an evolutionary process. The CEO and his team have the ultimate reassert for its acceptance by all. A caring work culture based on sound human values has always stood the test of time.
Employees will give their best but they need positive reinforcements. Organizations that practice spontaneous recognition for jobs well done have always had a competitive edge over their rivals. Need for recognition being an insatiable urge, a differentiated treatment is recommended. Monetary rewards have limited value and impact. Non-monetary rewards such as the Best Employee Award and dinner invitations to employees with family by the CEO create unlimited avenues to transform an organization’s vision into business realities with improved profitability and corporate image.
The culture of giving credit for excellent results has an electrifying effect on the morale of the employees. Remember, credit multiples and blame divides. Unless internal customers are motivated, external customers will not get quality products and services. No organization can survive the present-day cutthroat competition and enhance its image and carve a niche market with a passive and demotivated workforce. Loyalty cannot be bought nor can it be demanded. It has to be earned. This calls for substantial investment in human assets, which are most valuable and will prove strategic if handled with imagination and insight.
Corporate vision and mission can become business realities with the active involvement of all. We have to create a work culture based on human dignity and respect for each other. If the top management does not change their medieval attitude of command and control rooted in the master and servant psyche, will sure to meet their Waterloo. Such a management style has already become the elite of the dying system under the existing globalized market-driven economy. Therefore, the divorce between ownership and functional autonomy professionalism is a must for marching ahead. There is unlimited scope for Nepali managers to win over the hearts, souls and minds of their team members. What is needed is to deal with them with empathy. Corporate culture imbibed with a caring mental disposition is a sound turf for nurturing an enabling work climate. Mere platitudes will not suffice. Human resource practices such as greeting employees on their birthday and marriage with token gifts, providing insurance coverage for accidental death either on duty or off duty, open house meetings, felicitating newly promoted employees in groups during official celebrations, organizing training programs for housewives on their supporting roles to their employee husbands, giving employment to widows/children of the deceased employees and many other healthy rites and ceremonies contribute in creating a positive organizational culture.
The organization must recognize employees in the way that they prefer to be recognized. It’s not just about giving recognition, it’s about how it’s given. What works for one person may not work for another. Show your employees that you truly care by tailoring the way you recognize them to the way they like to be recognized. It’s a small gesture, but one that produces excellent results.
Also, the organization should not just acknowledge the achievements of their employees but also recognize their efforts as well. An employee who goes above and beyond by jumping into a project to help it get completed on time or who frequently volunteers to take on stretch assignments deserves recognition for their hard work and dedication to the job. This is actually the most valuable type of feedback, as it will keep the employee motivated to keep doing what they’re doing. Without recognition, they could end up feeling frustrated that their efforts are going unnoticed and therefore stop taking on extra work or going the extra mile on a project. Even worse, it could end up pushing them to seek out new employment. While it does take a bit of extra time to personalize and tailor recognition, it more than pays off to have employees who feel valued and appreciated in the workplace.
Thus, recognition and positive strokes are the dynamic forces that keep human minds motivated and focused on excellence. Leadership, both socio-political and business, with imagination and vision has always channelized and transformed the passive and hidden human potentials into a volcanic force for the attainment of an insurmountable feat. Recognition in the workplace is a vital contributor to employee engagement and happiness. Although traditional recognition practices seem simple, they become more complex as workplaces modernize. However, feeling appreciated is integral to the employee experience.
As Mike Robbins explains in a thought-provoking talk at TEDxBellevue, recognition, not just on its own, but as a part of a caring culture that values and appreciates people beyond achievements, is an important factor in employee satisfaction.
Pradhan is a Human Resource Specialist, Management Consultant and an Educator.