Why Doesn’t My Team Feel Recognized?

by  Karin Hurt  |  Leadership Development

You’ve served up regular  recognition cocktails of programs, plaques, bonuses, and fun.  In fact, you would consider a few of your creative  recognition programs to be “best practices.” Perhaps you’ve even written a blog post or two about them. You’ve spent lots of money… you’ve put in heartfelt effort. And then… the employee survey results come in. It’s not enough. They want more.

What if your recognition cocktails don’t work?

You think…

“How are we missing the mark?  Let’s ask the team…. “

And so you form a task force to come up with even more creative cocktails of programs, plaques, bonuses, and fun…  and the cycle continues.

Recognition isn’t always shiny.

Imagine There’s No Programs

Let’s get a little John Lennon here.

What if there were no formal recognition programs?

What else would you do?

Here are some thoughts… please add yours: 

  • Ask each person how they would like to be recognized
  • Say “thank you” more frequently
  • Write more hand written notes
  • Publicly celebrate and share more best practices
  • Provide more developmental assignments
  • Go out-of-the-way to spend time at the beginning of each meeting celebrating success
  • Understand which accomplishments mean the most to the individuals on the team
  • Slow down and really understand the nuances and challenges of what your team members are working on?
  • Connect
  • Bring in more bagels?
  • ?

Formal recognition programs have their place… and can be vital to the overall health of organizations. But… it’s never enough. Imagine all the people…

And then again, I just created another task force… 

Leadership is never handled.

See Also:

5 Reason’s Your Recognition is Backfiring
Why Isn’t This Incentive Program Working?
Recognition Power Words:  The Phrases That Mean the Most
Cheer in the Next Gear

What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By karin-hurt
Karin Hurt is a leadership speaker, consultant and MBA professor. She’s a former Verizon Wireless executive with 2 decades of diverse cross-functional experience in sales, customer service and HR. She was recently recognized on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Speakers for your next conference, AMA’s 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, and Trust Across America’s 100 Thought Leaders in Trusted Business Behavior.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Skip Prichard  |  14 Mar 2013  |  Reply

Karin, great thoughts as always. We must always seek new ways to inspire. I’ve often found that when the normal methods are not working at all, it is due to a deeper, systemic problem. Is the strategy clear? Does everyone know how she fits in? If these are not crystal clear, no matter how many bagels pile up or fun days are planned, the results are always the same. Also, I’ve found that it cannot be “top down” only. It must be driven at all levels.

Karin Hurt  |  15 Mar 2013  |  Reply

Skip, thanks so much for your great comments. I agree, this stuff is complex and looking at the whole picture is so key.

Devan  |  14 Mar 2013  |  Reply

Karin — you hit it right on the nail. The most genuine recognition and appreciation moments are not “formal” situations. So if you’re looking to improve in that area, you don’t need big formal events or systems and whatnot to do that. Being personal and being genuine with with recognizing an employee’s work is so key — can’t tell you how many times I’ve and my colleagues have received “good jobs” that weren’t really meant, they were just a formality. Be informal and mean it when you give praise and you’ll see things turn around with your team.

Karin Hurt  |  15 Mar 2013  |  Reply

Devan, ahh yes. Sincerity. Bingo.

Gary Winters  |  15 Mar 2013  |  Reply

It may start with a clearer understanding of the employee’s work. Some bosses I know think they “run” the company with a small contribution from the staff they allow to work there. That’s obviously not the norm, but I have seen it. Recognition comes day to day, you give praise as soon as you can, you see a staff member’s strong points and perhaps offer further training in that direction.

If no one’s getting paid what they’re worth, bringing in bagels isn’t going to help the situation (in fact, it may be seen as a slap in the face if the boss can easily afford this kind of generosity but the staff is struggling financially). But if the boss sees everyone is staying late all week to meet a new project’s deadline, bringing in pizza each evening or buying everyone a nice lunch at the end of the project helps.

Andrew Ritchie  |  20 Mar 2013  |  Reply

Sometimes it really does come down to the simple things, an individual thank you goes a long way. Most people are at their best and feel most valued when they are given a chance to learn and grow. Are you creating these opportunities?

Often quoted motivators such as giving people the opportunity to do what they do best and being really clear on what is expected of people are often overlooked. Helping people be clear that what they do matters and where it contributes to the company goals and strategies often makes people feel more valued than plaques etc.

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