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8 places to look for recognition moments

One of the biggest reasons that recognition (and recognition programs) fail is that important recognition moments are missed.

Great things are happening all around us that deserve to be recognized, but we’re missing them because we don’t understand that they should be recognized, and we’re not looking in the right places.

This means that we have employees who aren’t being recognized and don’t feel appreciated (65% of employees said they haven’t been recognized in the last year). And because of this, they aren’t motivated, aren’t performing and are taking action (75% of employees who quit their jobs cited lack of appreciation as the key driver).

For this reason, the first part of the mantra that I share in my new book titled See it. Say it. Appreciate it! is to ‘see it,’ meaning to look for recognition moments everywhere and anywhere. In training classes with managers I often say that we all need to put our recognition “glasses” on, thus looking for and seeking out opportunities to recognize our people. This is absolutely critical, for if we don’t first see the moments, then they will be missed, and the appreciation will never happen.

The absolute starting point of appreciation is to see it, to notice all of those moments that deserve to be recognized, to be intentional and take that first step.

Another way to think of it is to move from a one-dimensional to a multi-dimensional approach to recognition and appreciation. In a one-dimensional approach, we’re only looking for or thinking of recognition in one way. For example, we’re only looking for those superstars, those winners of what I call the ‘best of the best’ recognition programs. Or we’re only recognizing one member of a team that delivered a key project, and not others that helped to make it happen. Or finally, we’re focusing on those big ‘wins,’ ignoring all of those small and important wins and contributions that happen along the way.

“It’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.” Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

To bring this to life, here are eight examples of possible recognition moments that I share in my book to get managers on their way:

  1. Highlighting quality work – When your employees stand out by putting time and effort into delivering quality work, it’s cause for recognition. This shows them that you appreciate them doing what it takes to get things done.

  2. Suggesting new ideas – As you know, innovation is key to helping you and your company succeed, pushing the boundaries on what you do and how you get things done. Recognizing your people when they take the initiative to present a new idea can be a great way to thank them for this contribution, encouraging them and others to take this leap going forward.

  3. Learning a new skill – Key to the success of your people and your business is development, with these new skills key to helping them improve and be their best. To encourage this, it’s important to recognize the achievement of these new skills, letting your people know that you value and appreciate them taking the time and putting the effort into this accomplishment.

  4. Achieving key milestones – It’s important to recognize the achievement of key milestones, or what I like to call those “small wins.” Doing so will help your employees feel valued for their contributions, and also energize them, giving them the boost and confidence they need to keep going to achieve their overall objectives.

  5. Achieving outstanding results – When your employees achieve outstanding results by delivering a major assignment or project, it’s a perfect reason to recognize them. Use recognition as a cause for celebration, showing them the difference their contributions made in the final results.

  6. Supporting a colleague or customer – When one of your employees goes out of their way to support a colleague or customer, this is another opportunity to recognize them. By doing this, it shows them and others that providing this level of service is valued and important to you and to your company.

  7. Showing teamwork and cooperation – Look for opportunities to recognize not just individuals, but teams. When you see them working together and collaborating to deliver great work, use recognition as a way to celebrate and encourage new ways to break down silos within your business and get everyone working toward the same goals.

  8. Living your company values – And finally, just as important as the “what,” so what your employees have accomplished, is the “how,” or what many companies define as their company values or beliefs. These are the actions and behaviors that you have identified as the ones that you believe are essential in achieving your company’s mission and purpose, and creating and maintaining the culture that is right for your business and people. And for this reason, recognizing employees for living your company values will send the message to them that they are important, encouraging them to live them over and over again.

As I often say to managers, at first it may be difficult to see and find these recognition moments as you haven’t been looking for them in the past, but trust me, it will get easier, and soon they’ll “jump off the page” as they become so obvious and apparent.

I hope you’ve found this helpful, and please feel free to share this concept and these examples with your managers to help them move to a more multi-dimensional approach to recognition. By doing this it will open the door to capturing more recognition moments, and delivering the feeling of appreciation to a wider group of well-deserving employees.


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