Sunday, June 23, 2013

How Do You Recognise Staff Achievements?

Organisation success isn’t achieved by one person at the top; it’s achieved by a group of individuals working as an organisational team to achieve predetermined goals – some individuals will have greater accountability and/or greater skills than others but, if the structure is right, then it works like an orchestra where everyone is required to achieve the predetermined organisational goals and objectives (or at least they should be if your organisational development is correct).
The business world has the full spectrum of leadership types from the arrogant, narcissistic type leaders who consider all successes to be of their making, and their making alone, yet where they conversely believe that any failures are the fault of others somewhere in the organisation – but certainly nothing to do with them.
Great leaders have emotions like everyone else, and have their good days and their bad days too – but what they recognise is that they develop and communicate the corporate vision and strategy (after following a fully ‘inclusive’ process); and then give direction to help others reach that vision but they constantly appreciate the hard work and accomplishments of their staff at all levels, not just the level just below them.  
It’s actually not rocket science – even a bad leader will remember at least one time when they were praised for something they accomplished and how good it made them feel, regardless that it may have been many years ago. So there is really no excuse for anyone in a leadership position not understanding and ‘getting’ the individual impact, both in terms of motivation and performance, that acknowledging and recognising an individual’s successes and achievements has on them – but only where this recognition is shown and given in an honest and genuine manner.
Robert Eckert, former chairman and CEO of Mittal, (2000-2012), wrote the following in a 2013 HBR article, “Wherever I show my thanks, these tips work well for me:
• Set aside time every week to acknowledge people’s good work.
• Handwrite thank-you notes whenever you can. The personal touch matters in the digital age.
• Punish in private; praise in public. Make the public praise timely and specific.
• Remember to cc people’s supervisors. “Don’t tell me. Tell my boss.”
• Foster a culture of gratitude. It’s a game changer for sustainably better performance.”
I’m not sure how much social media might be to blame, as some people try to understand how to ‘manage’ their image to what they perceive to be a global audience, but there seems to be a change in direction where some people in positions of power want to take personal credit for ‘organisational’ achievements, so it can be ‘out there’ for all to see on the www.
These aren’t necessarily the narcissistic leadership types, who without a doubt don’t recognise any success to be anything less than ‘their brilliance’. No these are the leaders that lack confidence and hence are petrified of others potentially getting noticed for good work or special achievements, where they see these workers as potential threats and replacements for them – and hence they consider ‘recognition’ taboo, as it is contrary to their survival strategy. If you’ve ever come across these leadership types, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Recognition is always a natural behavioural trait within an organisation which has a positive business culture and ‘effective’ leadership (at any level). If you have confidence in your own abilities and appreciate what makes a business great – then recognition is the easiest thing to give and can have the greatest ‘pay back’ for an organisation.
Interestingly cosmetics entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash put it this way: “There are two things people want more than sex and money: recognition and praise.” These kind of glib comments often garner a negative response in the social media sphere as most people misunderstand and think that she’s saying money isn’t important – but what’s she’s saying is that assuming an employee has the ability to make a ‘living’ and that they can ‘move between jobs’ relatively easily then an employee will seek ‘job satisfaction’ as a primary driver, where some form of recognition is a key requirement.
Unfortunately the financial crisis has meant employees are less confidence in their ability to move between jobs and hence this has allowed some poor leadership traits, like not giving prise and recognition, to raise its head in many organisations.
If you genuinely want to create a positive organisational culture and be recognised as a great leader then you need to know when to say thank you to your employees – not only is it the right thing to do – but the positive impact it will have on sustainable performance might just surprise you.
Eckert, R. (2013). The Two Most Important Words. Harvard Business Review. April

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