8 Ways To Recognise Your Team


In a similar vein to a previous article on trust; recognition is another key area that helps to improve performance. Here are 8 tips on how to go about recognising individuals in your team. Let’s start with a couple of stories.

A true story: A visitor from the UK was holidaying in Florida a few years ago. One afternoon he found his rental car had developed a puncture and that the tool kit was missing. He phoned the hire company and the customer services representative arranged for an upgrade replacement. Thirty minutes later he was back on the road. Excellent service! When he complimented the individual on her work, there was a long pause… Then came the response: “I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say. I’ve been here for seven years now and it is the first time anybody has ever called to say thank you.”    

How not to deliver a “recognition moment”

Recognition, if offered in the right way, increases confidence and encourages ongoing good performance. It isn’t the same as providing rewards, although the two are often combined. Sadly, this can be mishandled.

Story number two: In the boardroom of a newspaper company, the sales team had gathered for the presentation of the ‘Person of the Month’ award by the Managing Director. Arriving late, and after a fine lunch, he sidled up to the winner and said: “So who exactly are you and what have you done?” The reward was then offered, but how could there be any accompanying recognition? Incidentally, the winning salesperson left the company soon afterwards!

Eight proven tips for successful recognition situations

1. Provide recognition in the way it will be most appreciated by the recipient. A salesperson might prefer the shining spotlight of a team meeting; an accountant simply a quiet word at their desk.

2. Never go over the top with wildly-effusive words or over-praise the behaviour or performance. Pitch the recognition in a way that allows it to be well-received (both by the recipient, and others if it is in a public forum).


3. Recognise each equal performance equally, irrespective of your feelings about the recipient; and offer recognition for individual performance even in circumstances where the team has not delivered as it should.

4. Know exactly what good performance looks like. Find out the details, use the information as you offer the recognition.

5. Provide it as close to the relevant performance as possible. A casual: “Well done for your efforts last month” simply demotivates.

6. Never compare the recognition of one with the criticism of others: “Jean delivered a faultless presentation to the meeting, unlike some others in here who didn’t make the slightest effort”. You may have turned the person due recognition into a hate figure for her colleagues!

7. For exceptional performance, a hand-written follow-up is often treasured far more than many people realise – even in these days of instant on-screen communication.

8. Never ask for more work when offering recognition. It is then simply seen as a cynical act.


Final words

Abraham Lincoln once said: “Don’t worry when you are not recognised, but strive to be worthy of recognition”. Certainly a noble sentiment. However, it is human nature to worry, especially if others have been recognised in similar situations. When recognising the achievements of PAs, EAs, and other staff members, do make sure you recognise regularly and fairly, genuinely and completely.

Till next time,