This is the final article in a series focused on the five ingredients of GREAT staff recognition. It suggestions eight ways to make recognition Timely, plus there’s a bonus tip for those times when we failed to give people recognition as soon as we should have.
Pervious articles in this series:
Genuine—making recognition authentic (includes five practices that cause your staff recognition efforts to seem insincere and nine ways to ensure recognition appears Genuine)
Relevant—making recognition strategic (includes nine ways to make recognition Relevant)
Explicit—making recognition specific (includes seven tips to provide Explicit recognition)
Appropriate—making recognition personal (includes 10 suggestions to provide recognition that is Appropriate)
Timely—Making staff recognition prompt
Does this seem familiar? You observe a staff member performing a task well and you think, “That’s deserving of recognition. I’ll do that … later.”
You really intend to do it.
Later, you will have more time to acknowledge the person’s contribution. Waiting allows time to figure out the best way to say, ”Well done!“ There will be time to write a thank-you note or to find a small token to express your appreciation.
But then life happens. You get even busier. A crisis demands your immediate response. Your praise goes unspoken and the contribution is forgotten.
Eventually, when there is a chance to say thank you, you begin, “I should have said something sooner.”
Yes, you should have. Recognition too long delayed seems an insincere afterthought.
Worse yet, you say, “I can’t remember what you did, but I know you did a good job of something.”
When you don’t remember what happened, providing Explicit recognition is impossible, whereas recalling the details would strengthen your message of appreciation. It would seem more Genuine.
Stop waiting for the right moment. Be spontaneous. Provide immediate feedback. When you see behaviour deserving of recognition, there’s no reason to put off saying or doing something.
Let people know you saw what they did and appreciate their contribution while what happened is still fresh in both of your minds.
Smile. Give the staff member a pat on the back or a thumbs-up. Express your appreciation in a few words.
What you say or do may not be the most Appropriate way to recognize this individual, but immediate recognition sends a powerful message of appreciation.
Want to do more? You can always follow up on-the-spot recognition with some other gesture of appreciation if you wish, but when the recognition is Timely, something more may not be needed.
Here are eight ways to ensure recognition is Timely, plus a bonus tip:
- Add “recognize staff” to your daily to-do list. Recognition is important and best when delivered in a Timely fashion.
- Prepare to provide Timely recognition by stocking up on tools you will need to express appreciation when you witness behaviour that deserves to be recognized: thank-you cards, sticky notes, treats, small gifts, coffee shop gift cards, etc.
- Schedule time to recognize staff—a time to write notes, send emails, make phone calls, or to drop by to say thank you. It could be a few minutes each day or an hour or two once a week, but never wait any longer to acknowledge contributions. The longer you wait, the less Timely the recognition becomes.
- Using email or texts may be the most Timely way to recognize staff, but don’t always leave it at that. You can strengthen your message of appreciation by following up in person.
- E-cards are a simple way to provide Timely recognition.
- While recognition should be Timely, this doesn’t mean it must always be immediate. Let a staff member know you would like to meet to provide positive feedback. “When would be a good time, tomorrow or the next day, for us to meet so that I can recognize you for what you did recently?” Waiting for praise that they know is coming may increase the impact of your message of appreciation.
- Recognition is most meaningful when it’s Timely, delivered immediately after you witness behaviour that you appreciate. However, there are times when this is not possible—you don’t want to interrupt what the deserving employee is doing, you are on your way to an appointment for which you can’t be late, or you are involved in a conversation with others (perhaps even congratulating them on a job well done). Plan to connect with this staff member as soon as is reasonably possible to recognition his/her contribution.
- If your recognition program requires a supervisor’s approval before recognition is bestowed, ensure the timeline for the approval process is short to ensure recognition is Timely.
Bonus Tip: No Statute of Limitations on Recognition—Most of us, at one time or another, have failed to give people recognition when we should have—soon after becoming aware that they had done a task well. We may have been distracted by other duties and now it seems too late to recognize the person. While recognition should ideally be Timely, being late with recognition is not a reason to forego it. Even recognition delayed is better than no recognition at all. What’s important is that it’s motivated by a Genuine sense of appreciation. You can then strengthen your message by including at least one other ingredient of GREAT staff recognition: make it Relevant, Explicit or Appropriate.
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