Employee Recognition Resources
Employee recognition works wonders for the success of an organization. So to make your business successful you need to understand the psychology that positive reinforcement in the form of recognition can increase workers capabilities to perform better.
Recognition is also a potent communication technique. By recognizing people you are sending your workers a powerful message. It also helps to maintain a friendly relationship between the employer and the employee, apart from its impact on task performance per se. Employers need to mindful of the fact that the cost of appreciation can be next to nothing when compared to the benefits that the organization enjoys because of well-motivated, recognized workers.
Some psychologists distinguish "stimulation hunger" from "recognition hunger" as two key motivators of human behavior and performance. In fact, "if you aren't stroked, your spine will shrivel" has been a popular mantra of the Transactional Analysis school of personality assessment and counseling that can be interpreted in terms of both kinds of needs-the need for stimulation and the need to be recognized.
Recognition in the workplace plays as comparably an important role as it does in personal relationships. Accordingly, recognizing the special talents and efforts of employees is a core part of an overall employee engagement strategy.
Recognition can be given in varying degrees and forms. It can also be given in anticipation of performance as well as in response to it, as a kind of "emotional advance payment" for anticipated excellence. As for "after the fact" recognition, at least one form subtly incorporates recognition in advance: Praising and touting a newcomer (on the basis of some past accomplishment) ambiguously suggests recognition for past successes, but as a declared expectation of more of them.
In attempting to motivate and reward employees by recognizing them, an employer must wisely ascertain whether the recognition to be given the staff member is actually perceived as such by all concerned. For example, giving an employee a logo lapel pin as a "medal" may fail on several counts: first, the employee may cynically interpret the pin as corporate self-promotion; secondly, it may be perceived as awarded with pressure to display it, even outside the office; third, it may be perceived by other employees as a "zero-sum" award that invidiously makes them look bad for not getting one (thereby potentially complicating or compromising the award winner's relationships with coworkers).
Therefore, it will be prudent to carefully conceive and allot forms of recognition that are the most effective. This may require in a "shyness factor" that makes some employees uncomfortable with recognition, irrespective of how otherwise well-intended and well-matched it may be. In such instances, private, rather than public recognition may be the better tactic.
Perhaps one of the most effective forms of recognition is multi-dimensional, e.g., praise plus (cash) prize, rather than merely a pat on the back or a smile (which, nonetheless, can be powerful positive motivators as standalone forms of recognition). Of course, the more multi-dimensional the recognition, the greater the associated investment in it (on both the employer and employee side, e.g., emotionally, for the employee).
Another subtle consideration in the psychology and management of recognition is whether a lack of recognition is not only the withholding of a reward, but also the infliction of punishment, e.g., when strangers at a party do not speak to each other or otherwise acknowledge each other's existence. In a business context, this can easily happen if a supervisor makes no comment on a team's efforts after successful completion of a project, i.e., the staff may interpret the silence as not only a lack of positive recognition, but also as implicit criticism.
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