“No recognition, please!” said no one, ever

Pure fiction!

These is no other way to describe the following exchange between two characters in Looking Good Dead, a mystery novel by British writer Peter James.

It is difficult to imagine anyone, in any school, office or other workplace, responding in a similar fashion to words of appreciation.

‘I’m coming up there myself,’ (Roy) Grace said. ‘I’ll be about ten minutes behind you.’

‘I’ll have the results waiting for you.’

‘I appreciate it.’

‘Actually, I don’t give a @#!* whether you appreciate it or not,’ the SOCO said, staring straight at the Detective Superintendent.

Sometimes Grace found it hard to tell when Joe Tindall was being serious and when he was joking; the man had a peculiar sense of humour. He couldn’t gauge it now.

‘Good!’ Grace said, trying to humour the man. ‘I admire your detached professionalism.’

‘Detached, bollocks!’ Tindal said. ‘I do it because I’m paid to do it. Being appreciated doesn’t bang my drum.’

Unlike Joe Tindall, most staff members would say that appreciation does “bang my drum.” They would prefer that a whole drum line celebrated their work.

Over the years, I have asked many participants in my programs if they felt they received too much recognition.

The universal response, whether I am working with teachers, health care workers or employees of construction companies, never varies. No one has ever said, “That’s me! I just want to go up to the boss and say, ‘No more recognition, please!’”

According to a new report from Gallup and Workhuman, just 23 per cent of employees strongly agree that they are satisfied with the amount of recognition they receive. That leaves three quarters of staff feeling less than satisfied with the amount of recognition they receive.

Separate research by Gallup found that 65 per cent of employees had not been recognized in the past year.

Another study—this one by Authentic Recognition—paints a somewhat brighter picture. Among workers asked, 42 per cent felt that the recognition they received from their immediate supervisor was “about the right amount,” while 39 per cent felt that recognition was not frequent enough and 15 per cent said it was “about frequently enough.” At the other end of the scale, only one per cent felt they were recognized “much too frequently” and another two per cent said that it was a “little too frequently.”

It’s fair to conclude that people believe you can’t provide too much recognition—if the recognition is Genuine.

I realize there are some managers who believe their staff is made up of people like Joe Tindall. 

“I don’t feel we should thank people for just doing their job,” they say.

Other supervisors think recognition is unimportant for another reason: “I don’t get any recognition myself—never have, didn’t need it.”

These are among the most common reasons one hears for not recognizing staff, all of which are simply not valid. They are just excuses for doing nothing.

Ironically, these same managers see no contradiction between not recognizing their staff and what they, themselves, do when attending sports events and concerts. They join other fans in cheering loudly when athletes and performers do their jobs well, whether it’s scoring a goal or singing one of their hit tunes. 

They likely even cheer when these well-paid professionals simply show up for work, be that running onto the field, skating onto the ice or stepping onto a stage.

How might those managers who claim to have never received praise or recognition feel now, had they had been thanked for jobs well done? What if they had received regular praise? What difference would that have made?

Some managers think the bashfulness or awkwardness that some staff members exhibit when being thanked means they want their fine work ignored. Phrases such as, “I was just doing my job,” or “anyone would have done the same thing,” are seen as evidence that those employees don’t want or don’t need recognition. 

The actual response to their awkwardness should be to offer more recognition, not less. A lack of recognition in their past may mean that they are unsure of how to accept recognition

Eventually, staff members will learn that the appropriate way to respond when they receive praise is with a smile and a simple, “Thank you for noticing what I do.”

In the real, non-fiction world where we live, you will encounter very few employees like Joe Tindall, who are satisfied with just the financial reward of doing their job. Most want more than financial income. They are also looking for emotional income—the feeling that they are valued for who they are and appreciated for what they do. 


Appreciate someone? Let them know before it’s too late


Travel provides opportunities to meet people from other countries, learn about where they come from and draw lessons from the stories they tell.

On a recent cruise, I listened as an Australian described the final days of a friend’s life. Someone who had never smoked, she nevertheless succumbed to lung cancer soon after being diagnosed with the disease.

It was inspiring to hear that when friends visited during those final weeks “they would tell her why they appreciated her.”

Sadly, he added that, “for years, she had felt unappreciated.”

It reminded me of the line we hear so often during eulogies. “There are so many things I wish I had said to him while he was still alive.”

Put that way, I guess the woman of whom my fellow traveller spoke was lucky to hear some words of appreciation before she died.

But it would have been better if she had heard these words sooner. She should not have had to wait until she lay on her deathbed. 

Unfortunately, not hearing messages of appreciation is far too common, both with friends and in the workplace. Not feeling appreciated is a common workplace complaint. 

Some research identifies feeling unappreciated as the number one reason people leave a job. Bestselling author Bob Nelson writes, “People may take a job for more money, but they will leave for more recognition.”

In 2016, the Gallup Organization found that employees who not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say that they’ll quit within the next year.

Workplaces have their own equivalent of funerals—retirement parties. During these “funerals for the living,” the soon-to-be departed hears never-before-spoken words of praise and gratitude, describing the value of their contributions and achievements.

Had they heard these words sooner and frequently, would they have made different decisions? Would they have delayed their retirement and continued to contribute in ways for which they are now being praised?

What a difference might it have made to the woman fighting cancer in Australia or to productive staff members approaching retirement, if the words heard near the end had been spoken sooner.

In life and in the workplace, we need fewer funerals and more celebration of people for who they are and what they do.

Now, go tell someone they are appreciated before it’s too late!

Photo credit: http://www.bigstockphoto.com