motivating employees and building a great culture

Defining The Criteria for Recognizing Others

At David Novak Leadership, we talk a lot about leadership principles. And recognition is one we highlight frequently because we know recognition is a leader’s secret weapon for motivating employees and building a great culture.

Everyone wants to feel appreciated for the value they bring to the workplace. As a leader, you can use recognition to let your team members know they matter. Showing gratitude is a small thing that makes a big difference to your workers.

But how exactly do you decide who to recognize and what is worthy of recognition? Here are two criteria to consider: hard results that are process driven and flexible recognition.

One way to recognize people is for hard results that are process driven, things like customer service or efficiency. Leaders leverage this type of recognition because it produces sustainable results. Check out these stories written by leaders who used recognition to motivate their teams.

However, great leaders don’t rely on just one form of recognition. Flexible recognition occurs when you, as the leader, recognize people for any kind of behavior you see that reinforces what you’re trying to drive in the organization. When you witness someone doing the kinds of things you want to lift up and make a positive example of, take time to let them know what you appreciate about them. Make sure to explain WHY the person is being recognized because this lets others know how they can work towards those same behaviors.

Flexible recognition also allows leaders to set the standard for the kinds of behaviors you want to see more of and which cultural values you want to reinforce. Recognition can become the catalyst leaders use to positively reinforce the behaviors that drive the culture of your team and organization.

Remember, as the leader, you set the standard. Take time to identify what behaviors and values you want to see more of, and then use recognition to motivate your people toward them. After this, become disciplined about recognizing people regularly. In fact, you can start this right now. Who will you recognize today?

If you need more examples of ways to recognize others, you can learn from Indra Nooyi, former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. She champions a number of recognition programs. In this podcast, she shares different ways she recognizes others – from sales managers to factory floor workers to executives. You’ll also learn her favorite form of recognition that “…is worth more than money, stock rounds, hugs, tickets, anything…”.

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