A few years ago, a client of mine taught me a simple, yet very effective way for doing a better job of providing positive recognition. The first year I reviewed this executive's 360º feedback report (feedback from his direct reports and co-workers), he scored the sixth percentile for providing recognition (in other words -- 94 percent of the people in his company were seen as being more effective than he was). Within one year, he had moved all the way up to the 94th percentile for providing recognition (now -- in a complete reversal -- only 6 percent were seen as scoring higher than he did).
Given this dramatic turnaround in scores I asked, "Please let me know what you did differently. Whatever it was, it worked. I would like to share it with all of the people that I teach."
His answer provided a roadmap that I have never seen fail.
- List the names of the key groups of people that impact your life -- both at work and at home (customers, co-workers, friends, family members, etc.).
- Write down the names of the people in each group.
- Post your list in a place you can't miss seeing regularly.
- Twice a week -- once on Wednesday, once on Friday -- review the list and ask yourself, "Did anyone on this list do something that I should recognize?"
- If someone did, stop by to say "thank you," make a quick phone call, leave a voice mail, send an email, or jot down a note.
- Don't do anything that takes up too much time. This process needs to be time-efficient or you won't stick with it.
- If no one on the list did anything that you believe should be recognized, don't say anything. You don't want to be a hypocrite or a phony. No recognition is better than recognition that you don't really mean.
- Stick with the process. You won't see much impact in a week -- but you will see a huge difference in a year.
What techniques do you use to provide recognition? What works particularly well with your team?