Building a Culture of Appreciation? Avoid Negative Recognition.

Are you trying to foster a culture of appreciation in your workplace or organization? Foundational to such a culture is frequent, meaningful and personal recognition of effort. What’s the level of recognition in your organization?

To find out, ask people at all levels to recall the last time they were recognized at work. How long ago was it? Was it positive or negative recognition? Was it enjoyable? What did that recognition mean to them on a personal level? How did it impact or influence their future effort?

The answers will likely be surprising. We often don't realize that, sadly, many employees experience negative recognition far more often than positive recognition. Paul Hebert recently described this well on the Fistful of Talent blog:
“We manage talent by watching, measuring and documenting past behaviors and performance and then devise interventions to ‘fix’ any problems we uncover. No problems - no intervention. But this process has a major flaw. When you focus on the lower performing personnel (and let's face it - we all do) the top performers notice. When top performers see you spend all your time with the non-performers, the message is – ‘if I want time with management - I better screw something up.’ Management attention is a form of reward. Unconsciously, you are rewarding poor performance.”

Part of the solution, obviously, is to intentionally spend time with top performers and recognize them for their continuing solid performance. But don’t forget about your middle tier of employees – those that churn out the work every day, but perhaps do not stand out of the crowd. They also deserve recognition for their contributions. Without them and their contributions, the star performers likely wouldn’t be stars.

Think about your current or recent work environments? What was the most prevalent form of recognition – positive or negative? Be sure to take our weekly poll.

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