How to Recognize an Employee for Their Good Work



Employees shouldn’t have to fight for recognition. When an employee does something excellent, it should be acknowledged. “No news is good news” isn’t a recognition program. Organizations must also understand that, if employees only see the same one or two people being recognized, it can come across as favoritism.

On the other hand, employees want to know that the mediocre or poor performance of others is being managed. Employees don’t need to be informed when other employees are coached, but they can see what’s going on. When managers coach employees successfully, behaviors change. That’s how employees know lackluster performance is being properly managed.

It’s not an excuse, but managers are busy and sometimes managers forget to recognize excellent performance. Or they neglect to address the poor performance of their team because they are trying to figure out how to manage the situation. Coaching and recognition are difficult. Again, no excuses, but it’s important to recognize employees’ work.

The best way to do that is by personalizing the message.  

Focus on employee performance. Manager will be incredibly frustrated if they try to compare employee performance. Or allow employees to compare themselves to someone else. Keep conversations focused on comparing performance to the company standard. Either the employee meets (or exceeds) the standard or they don’t.

Deliver the message using the right medium. Managers need to communicate in a way that employees will like and respond positively to. If you don’t know the best way to recognize your team - ask them! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying, “I want to recognize your work in a way that’s meaningful to you. Aside from money – because we all want that – what’s the best way to positively recognize your work?”

Encourage peer-to-peer recognition. All recognition doesn’t need to come from management. Managers should encourage employees to give each other accolades when appropriate. It can mean a lot to hear kind words from colleagues. The organization should make sure that all employees receive training on how to deliver feedback in a meaningful way.

Employees want to be recognized for their work in a way that’s valuable for them. A surefire way to disengage employees is to not recognize them or to recognize them in a way that they think is embarrassing. Creating employee engagement includes finding ways to deliver positive feedback in the employee’s preferred style. It’s worth the time.




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Great points here Sharlyn. Personalization is so important in both employee engagement and the customer experience. When rewards/recognition lack personalization they come across as canned and lack effectiveness to motivate those employees to continue their progress. I would add that learning and development opportunities are another excellent way to engage employees. I recently wrote a blog called Learning and Development is the Fuel of Employee Engagement here: Check it out when you get a chance!

I appreciate the focus on engagement and recognition. A more powerful way to succeed, aligning engagement and company performance is to empower employees to think and act like owners. As they track results, the recognition, individually and collectively is automatic. These articles provide more context:

I enjoyed this article - very good reminders, Sharlyn! When managers treat recognition as a one-size-fits-all approach, it doesn't work. Simple things like asking, "How can I recognize you in a way that's meaningful for you?" is brilliant - and not asked often enough. A simple Survey Monkey asking employees for simple things - favorite candy bar, gift card, etc. can lead to a much more personal experience. And it shows employees that managers actually care about them as individuals. Thank you!

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