While people do enjoy the extra money and added perks that incentives provide (as we talked about in this post last week), many receive greater satisfaction from knowing someone valued their contributions.
This “intrinsic” motivation drives people to perform for an internal sense of accomplishment. Many a manager or CEO may say, “Well, my people should work hard. That’s what they’re paid for.” But how will people know they’re doing a good job if we don’t tell them? Personal recognition lets them know.
Your well-constructed personal recognition program will help you…
- Meet people’s needs for achievement and personal recognition
- Translate company values into specific work habits
- Focus efforts on achieving specific goals
- Achieve profitability and growth
- Create a culture where people really want to do their best
- Tell people what’s really important to the organization
- Improve individual attitudes
- Boost overall morale
- Produce role models for future programs
- Reward achievement with a sense of accomplishment and closure
- Foster healthy competition between individuals and teams
- Create loyal, committed employees
As an after-the-fact display of appreciation for a contribution, personal recognition often surprises the recipient (who performed well for reasons other than receiving personal recognition). By addressing the individual’s need for belonging, personal recognition bestows strong intrinsic rewards.
Whereas incentives emphasize specific behaviors leading to desired results, personal recognition expresses feelings of pride and camaraderie, in both the person giving personal recognition and the person receiving it. Personal recognition has lasting, residual effects on the rest of the organization. The material reward, often minimal in extrinsic value, becomes an important symbol of management’s sincerity and commitment to corporate values and company culture.
In this way, personal recognition significantly impacts morale and performance. Most people want to do a good job and are willing to work hard. But, they need direction in what they do and feedback on how they’re doing it. Personal recognition provides feedback while building self-esteem and inner drive.
When people routinely receive personal recognition for their efforts, they begin to trust in the system, knowing that their hard work will be rewarded. They become more committed to their organization.
What does personal recognition look like?
Whether in public or private, personal recognition can work for you. Competitive extroverts thrive more on public personal recognition calling attention to their achievements in a group setting—at a meeting or conference, in a newsletter, or over the intercom.
The first thing to remember is to be sensitive to individuals’ personal recognition differences. Take time to get to know them so you can meet their needs. If you’re not sure, ask—either in a private conversation or with a questionnaire.
The second thing to remember is to find a balance between verbal recognition and tangible recognition gifts. Use them in tandem. Why? Because using material rewards too frequently or inappropriately can make people feel manipulated, while using social acknowledgment exclusively—never with a tangible reward—people may feel like your praise is empty and meaningless. The most successful personal recognition programs recognize people with both praise and material rewards.
Both quality and quantity matter when it comes to personal recognition. Be sure to reward people when they demonstrate performance above and beyond what’s expected, when an employee covers for a sick co-worker, when a team completes a project ahead of schedule, when an employee demonstrates one of your company’s core values, and SO MUCH MORE!
How does personal recognition in your organization motivate your employees to reach new levels of achievement? Let us know in the comments below!