I haven’t read Mary Trump’s family memoir and likely won’t.
For my purposes, the title says it all: Too Much and Never Enough.
Those last two words really resonate. They say so much about President Donald Trump and remind me of one way in which he is similar to a few people with whom I have worked.
Like Trump, no matter how often they are praised, it is never enough.
Simply put, some staff members need more recognition than their colleagues.
I think the first time I encountered this recognition-deficit feeling was not in someone I supervised, but in the question asked by the editor of a small newspaper where I worked as a reporter when I was still in my teens.
Every week it was the same. “What do you think of this week’s paper? It looks pretty good, doesn’t it?”
To my eye it looked pretty much like the previous week’s newspaper, but I always agreed that the current edition really stood out from the past issues.
As an educational administrator, certain teachers stood out because of their need to be recognized frequently. Heather (not her real name, of course) seemed to always come forward to show what she had accomplished, hoping, I assume, that I would see the quality of her work and praise her for what she had done.
In truth, what she did was deserving of recognition and I was happy to satisfy her need for praise.
Others accomplished as much but did so more quietly, which meant they may have received less praise when they likely deserved more.
When the term Appropriate is used to describe one of the ingredients of GREAT (Genuine, Relevant, Explicit, Appropriate and Timely) staff recognition, the emphasis is on knowing individuals well enough to be able to recognize them in ways that reflect their interests and their preference for public or private recognition.
Recognizing the need of some people for more praise than others seem to need can be added to that list.
However, there is a potential for misinterpretation of this observation. Is it permission to provide less recognition to most staff so that certain staff can receive more? Or should you recognize these high-need staff members for contributions for which others might not be recognized?
Certainly not in both cases. Recognition should be given to all who deserve it as often as they deserve it.
Even when you attempt to provide more recognition to those who need more, the recognition must always be driven by a sincere sense of appreciation for what the person did. It must be Genuine.
Simple recognition techniques will likely satisfy the high-need people’s thirst for recognition.
“John, this week’s newspaper does look good.”
For staff like Heather, a few words of praise are all that’s needed, whether written on a sticky note left on her desk, in a text message or email, or via a “pat on the back” when you meet in the hallway.
And, there must be something that could be said to the U.S. president.
How about, “You provide hosts of late-night talk shows with lots of great material for their monologues?”
It might work in the moment, but no matter how much recognition he receives, it’s never enough.