The Most Powerful Form of Recognition

Recognition is a key component of retaining your originators. In today’s market where every company is looking for salespeople, it is amazing how few managers don’t bother to say “thank you” to their employees and especially to their top producers.

During consulting engagements, I often hear top originators lament that they are made to feel like a problem and not a solution. They are rarely recognized by managers (President’s Club doesn’t count since it is a group event) because the common belief is that originators are paid well and that should be enough. When you couple this thinking with the idea that it is better to leave top producers alone, your best employees do not receive the attention they deserve.

The data is clear that recognition is a critical tool managers should be using. There are two studies that I think are worth mentioning. According to a recent Gallup poll, 65% of employees say they don’t feel appreciated at work. That feeling quickly leads to pervasive negativity, low morale and (worst of all) decreased productivity. The second is a Forbes study that states that 83% of the organizations they studied have a recognition deficit. Further, 87% of the recognition programs offered focus on tenure which Forbes determined, has a minimal impact on organizational performance. Companies that scored in the top 20% for building a “recognition-rich culture” actually had 31% lower voluntary turnover. That’s a significant finding that managers and companies should not ignore.

What is the fundamental starting point in recognizing employees? Saying thank you! Yes as simple and as small as it sounds, “thank you” said meaningfully by a manager and leader is one of the most powerful forms of recognition.

As Professor Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School discussed in her recent book, “Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan,” “receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people, too,” She described the scope of the “gratitude effect” as “the most surprising part” of her research, observing that “by missing chances to express gratitude, organizations and leaders lose relatively cost-free opportunities to motivate.” I couldn’t agree more.

Have you said “thank you” today to your employees — they are waiting to hear it from you.

Thanks for reading this blog!