Recognition, Appreciation & The Gold Watch

Image of watch
Recognition – My Gold Watch

Research indicates that recognition is one of the most significant drivers of employee engagement.

Recognition is an interesting study. Stop for a moment and consider: what was the best recognition moment you’ve ever experienced at work? The answer to that question can offer meaningful insights. I often pose that question in the research and seminar facilitation work I do. The answers, based on my experience set, are rarely about things like gold watches and steak knives. They typically are accounts of authentic acknowledgement and appreciation for a job well done. Often they are very powerful stories. Work is a very emotional experience.

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Recognition – My Steak Knives

This week Harvey McKcay published a beautiful story about the unique Thanksgiving recognition ritual of Don MacPherson, President of Modern Survey. Don takes time out every Thanksgiving morning to call each employee in his business to personally say thank you. Don is a colleague I’ve known for a couple years now and blogged about here. I was pleased to learn about his special tradition and see it called out as an example of authentic leadership.

I was quite surprised, however, upon leaving the gym Thursday morning to look down at my phone and see a voice mail from Don. See, Don doesn’t stop at just his employees. He calls vendors. Partners. Colleagues. Brand Ambassadors. To extend his gratitude for the support they provide Modern Survey. And trust me, he means it. I am saving the message. I was inspired.

I was prompted to consider my own recognition experiences. Where I’d succeeded and fallen short. I also thought about the gold watch and set of steak knives. I own both from corporate recognition. Honoring ten and fifteen years on the job. They are pictured in this post. I don’t personally care for the watch. Not my style. I’ve never worn it (except admittedly when keynoting about Passion Culture to occasionally use it as a prop). I like my steak knives. I still use them to this day. My point is, they just didn’t mean anything to me.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with corporate recognition programs. To the contrary, they can offer a lot. But, they are no replacement for authentic acknowledgement and appreciation.

If you are a leader, stop for a moment and consider: Do you know what each one of your employees best recognition moment was at work? Were you part of that moment? Recognition is very personal and that understanding with subsequent action, appreciation and acknowledgement can go a long way.

You have to give to get. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call and thank you when someone least expects it.

Thank you Don!

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