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Recognition: We All Need It

Colorful squares with words of recognition: "Way to go!," "Good job," and "Well done."

Do you remember the last time you were recognized for your work? How did it make you feel? For most, whether it is public shout out or a personal note of thanks, being recognized goes a long way. Whether you are a manager of a team or project, or an individual contributor, everyone needs to feel appreciated.

Five Quick Tips to Creating a Culture of Thanks

Here are a few quick tips to incorporating recognition into your workplace culture.

  1. Just do it. A well-timed recognition can be very impactful. Show your appreciation in a timely manner so they know it was linked to the event, and not to your own convenience. To help you recognize contributions regularly, keep a spreadsheet noting when you last acknowledged your employees, colleagues, manager, etc. so you can tell when it’s been too long.
  2. Make it personal.  If you say thank you to every employee at every staff meeting, it quickly loses its meaning. Be sure to give specifics about what the person did, and why it was good. To make it even more personal, try saying thanks with a handwritten note or other personal gesture.
  3. Little things count. Recognition does not need to be saved for big accomplishments only. Nor do they need to be saved just for those who report directly to you—your peers and your boss could also use acknowledgement. We all could.
  4. Recognize failures as well as successes. This TED talk by Dan Ariely captures how critical it is for our motivation to feel like our work has meaning and purpose. Failures can make our work feel purposeless, but if you find a way to acknowledge the effort, you may be able to salvage learning and meaning from some unsuccessful experiences.
  5. It’s not about the money. A recent article in Fast Company explained the science behind why experiences can have a more lasting impact on happiness than things. Yet, many times we feel we can’t recognize someone if we don’t have a bonus check to go along with it. If you feel a “thank you” is insufficient, think about what experiences you could offer instead—time off to attend an interesting lecture on campus, a 1:1 lunch, an introduction to a respected colleague—these are just a few examples.

A Culture of Thanks

Creating a culture of appreciation doesn’t have to start with the manager, nor should it happen once or twice a year (e.g. performance evaluation periods). Anyone can show recognition, and with these five tips in mind, don’t wait – start today! The best recognition is specific and descriptive—so add a note in your email telling your colleague why you think he or she is so awesome.

View Gallery of CaW Graphics

In addition to sending your colleague an email with thanks and fun Cardinal at Work graphics, what can you do to create a culture of appreciation? Find more ideas in the Manage & Lead section.

Manage & Lead