When recognition takes place it demonstrates appreciation for the effort that someone else put into a project or task. True recognition says, “I can tell you invested mental energy into this and I appreciate that”. Less than true recognition is empty lip service.
Here is a distinction between true recognition and lip service:
True Recognition: “You asked the client specific questions that helped us determine the requirements for their project. As a result, we delivered a high quality service to them and we have a happy customer.”
Non-specific recognition: “Good job on the project. The customer is happy.”
These are generic examples and obviously are exaggerated to demonstrate a finer distinction. However, there is a meaningful difference between the two.
True recognition is specific. It is not general or impersonal. True recognition offers three specific characteristics:
- The specific behavior, action, value, competency that the person demonstrated. In the example above, it is clear that asking the clients specific questions was the exact behavior worth calling out and recognizing.
- Why or how the behavior, action, etc. was important to success. This helps demonstrate meaning and purpose behind one’s job. Also, it sends signals to ‘do this more often’. In the example, the specific questions were important to success because it led to the collecting of project requirements.
- The result of the behavior, action, etc. This builds upon the previous bullet to make it concrete. The end result, even if it is ‘we learned to never do it this way again’ is valuable insight. Ideally you are recognizing successes. So by tying the behavior to the result, recipients see the purpose of their efforts. In the example, the specific outcome was a high quality deliverable and a happy customer.
However, the single most important characteristic of true recognition is genuine appreciation. It can’t be faked or feigned and people have great radars to detect fake recognition. That said, when you are giving genuine recognition, structure it to have the greatest impact.
On a funny note, given the example used, here’s a funny comic that many in the world of business can relate to…
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