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In Search of Recognition: Part II

In the first installment of this series, I discussed the confusion and contradictions that surround the word recognition, as it is used to survey employee job satisfaction. It seems that employees interpret the word differently than management. Organizations are spending a lot of money and time—throwing a lot of resources at increasing employee recognition because surveys indicate that employees feel they are not being recognized commensurate with their contribution.

Part of management’s solution is to increase the frequency of verbal praise employees receive. Unfortunately, there is some evidence that verbal praise—positive comments by managers and supervisors about employee work efforts, is not perceived by employees to convey genuine “valuing” by the organization. Positive comments about job performance—verbal positive reinforcement—are not fulfilling the employees’ need for recognition.

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New Positive Reinforcement Strategies

If don’t have people skills, if you are a manager or supervisor who is perfectionistic, impatient, and thinks that employees should do what they are paid to do without any need for motivation or positive reinforcement, then you are among the 75% of managers who feel the same way. But, don’t feel that you are doomed to be at odds with all the management development initiatives and consultants that ask you to positively reinforce your employees for improvement, extra effort or outstanding achievement.

Recent research presents a different perspective on the best way to encourage employees to perform their best. It seems that supervisors and managers who talk to employees frequently about their work, who stop by during the day to check on “how things are going,” supervisors who make casual but specific comments about what they see the employee doing right or wrong, have better performing departments and work groups than managers who intermittently apply more dramatic positive reinforcers to employee behavior or results. This is good news for managers who do not want to change their personalities and who are uncomfortable with delivering verbal praise for employee work behavior.

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What the Best Leaders Do

The shelves of America’s largest bookstores are being continually stocked with new books about leadership. It has become a national preoccupation—management consultants, corporate trainers and public workshop providers are very busy. America is hungry for leaders and there is a leadership theory that fits every perspective. Every company seeking to turn its managers into leaders is going to find a consultant or workshop whose offering suits their taste.

If you browse the bookshelves at Borders, you are mesmerized by the catchy titles and enticing themes of books purporting to teach you how to become a “leader.” Leader is an auspicious word that connotes skills and abilities that are noble and worthy of systematic pursuit. There are so many choices, you don’t know which book to read and it is hard to decide if one or the other book is right or wrong. They all seem to make sense, but it seems that a good leader has skills, assets, traits and abilities that are superhuman. Can one realistically expect to learn how to do and be all these wonderful things—a superleader?

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In Search of Recognition: Part I

For the last three decades, employee surveys have repeatedly pointed to recognition as being one of the critical ingredients in employee satisfaction, morale, motivation, and retention.

Rewards and recognition practices--positive management, has reached an iconic status as the preferred means of motivating human performance. In light of the time and resources dedicated to these methods, it seems appropriate to examine the effects of positive systems and processes with the same lens we apply to other organizational systems. If they have a positive effect on employee engagement and discretionary effort, then the ROI will be validated and the investment of organizational resources they receive will be substantiated.

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