I was having coffee with a colleague. She had worked with me for years. She was a big time player. Presidents Club producer. Rock Star with major account relationships. A catalyst for positive attitude, energy and enthusiasm on the team. As we were catching up, she casually asked “do you still have the gold watch?” We received them as 10 year anniversary milestone gifts. I responded that I did, somewhere in a drawer, but had actually never worn the watch. She then provided an update on her company keepsake. “Dude, I just sold mine last week…what do you think it was worth?” I smiled and wanted to know more. You sold it? At a pawn shop? She did. I guessed the value. Not a bad pawn I suppose. As we were laughing and reminiscing about gold watches and days gone by we also discussed recognition. Was the gold watch meaningful? Did it matter? If it wasn’t watches what kind of recognition was important? Recognition is a huge driver of employee engagement. The research is in. I’d also suggest to any leader, manager and organization considering recognition to think about the following: -There is a difference between recognition and appreciation. Gifts are great. They don’t replace the authentic appreciation that a leader or manager can bestow on someone for a job well done. -Recognition is a team sport. Any MVP worth his or her salt would trade that trophy in for the team championship. Crossing the finish line victorious is more fun when it’s done together. -Recognition is personal. Do you know how your employees want to be recognized? -Recognition can’t wait. Ten years or two days. There is sense of urgency around recognition for work well done. Recognition is important. I think tremendous benefits can be realized in corporate recognition and incentive programs. It is also important to remember that recognition doesn’t replace the real relationships that make work matter (and in turn make recognition more meaningful). Absent those real, meaningful relationships and memorable experiences the recognition can still be nice. Guess how much a decent gold watch is going for at the Pawn Shop?
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.