Recognition Leads to Results

In his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation", Abraham Maslow developed a theory that illustrates a hierarchy of human needs.   At the bottom of the pyramid are physical and safety needs.  Higher in the pyramid are needs such as love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.   In the United States and many modern societies workers have many of their basic needs met and are looking for something more.  Today more than ever people are longing to find a company where they feel like they belong and make a difference.

In the book The New One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard popularized the phrase "catch somebody doing something right."   He says that this praise should be immediate and specific.   This behavior needs to be modeled by top leaders in organizations.  

I have seen tremendous results when a culture of recognition has been modeled by top leadership.   When it has not, I have noticed results are disastrous.   Research has shown that in top performing teams the ratio of positive feedback to negative feedback is 5 to 1.   Leaders should focus on praising the behaviors that lead to results and not just the results.

 People don't leave companies.   They leave managers. 

I had the privilege of seeing this phrase modeled by Tom Mendoza when I worked at NetApp.   Tom made 10-15 calls per day to encourage or praise people working at our company or our partners.   He offered to call anyone if someone sent him an email telling him why he should thank someone in our company for their efforts.   Tom said, "People don't care what you know until they know that you care."   He also said, "Leadership is the ability to have people galvanize around a mission to perform at a level much greater than they would have done individually."   Tom taught me a lot about how to build a high performance culture.

I heard Dave Ramsey interviewed in a podcast recently. He reminded me how important it is to recognize your people in front of their family. Today I was in a meeting where the leader mentioned that many family members don't understand the employee's high level of commitment to their job. He said that he made a point of thanking the spouses at the Christmas party, and I agreed this was a good idea. In addition, I suggested that he should pass on recognition from their colleagues and customers to their spouses. I also committed to come up with more ways to let family know that the organization values the sacrifices that were made in service to their customers.

David Novak, former CEO of Yum Brands and the author of the book O Great One, provides:

10 guiding principles for inspiring your team

Principle # 1:  People won't care about you if you don't care about them. You can't expect anything from anyone if you don't show them you care about them. 

Principle # 2:  The best way to show people you care is to listen to them.  You have to listen to what people have to say, otherwise they won't believe that you care about them.   

Principle # 3:  A great idea can come from anywhere.  The best ideas don't have to come from high ranks.  Typically, they don't. 

Principle # 4:  Recognize great work and great ideas whenever and wherever you see them. There are constantly opportunities to recognize good work, so take advantage of it.  Do not wait to make or force recognition.

 Principle # 5:  Make recognition a catalyst for results.  Recognize work that has had an impact.  If you recognize the right things, it will drive more good performance. 

Principle # 6:  Make it fun.  Others will want to get involved in recognition if you create shared experiences that are fun for everyone, such as a party. 

Principle # 7:  Make it personal.  Make sure that you put your personal stamp on any award you are giving, and make sure that you are personalizing the award for the recipient's specific action. 

Principle # 8:  Recognition is universal. It doesn't matter who it is; everyone loves recognition.

Principle # 9:  Giving recognition is a privilege.  Giving recognition should not be thought of as a job; it is a privilege.  It makes people feel great and makes you feel great in return. 

Principle # 10:  Say thank you every chance you get.  "The two most powerful words in the English language are 'thank' and 'you.'  They are easy to say, and it doesn't cost you a thing to use them - so use them often!"


If you don't believe that providing recognition works, look at Chick-fil-A.   They generate more revenue per store than any other food chain by training their employees to say please and thank you.   Research has shown that if you take care of your employees they will take care of your customers.   Your team should have a mission they can believe in.   They also need to be recognized for their role in helping your company achieve its mission!