"Just as it is easier for some parents to show love
with gifts than with hugs, it is often easier for
organizations and managers to show gratitude with
money than with words."
Andrew Lebby, senior
partner, The Performance Group
found that managers approaches to recognition can be
divided into three categories:
Management by Exception
manager proudly used this term to describe his
approach. "If you haven't heard from me, that's a
good sign," he explained. "That means I think you're
doing just fine. I only deal with the exceptions. I
look for problems and people that need correcting.
Those are what I jump on." In a later conversation
that same manager talked about his failed first
marriage. "What really drove me crazy were her
constant complaints that I never told her I loved
her," he complained. "I married her didn't I?
Obviously I loved her. Why did I need to keep saying
it then?" Personal and organization consultant, John
Scherer, calls this approach Gap-Zap. When things
are going well, nothing is said we leave a gap.
When things get off track or there's a problem we
Variations of management by exception are leading
causes of the demoralization and fear that's rampant
in so many groups and organizations. People feel
criticized, ignored, unappreciated, and even used.
They feel like a piece of equipment or just so many
"human assets with skin wrapped around them."
Flattery and Manipulation
Flattery is a negative form of praise that can do
more harm than good. It's used to control and
dominate. This sickly (and sickening) form of
"recognition" is often practiced by people who "lay
it on thick." Generally the compliments they are
paying are overblown and out of proportion to the
deed or person they're addressing ("we could never
survive without your contributions"). Or their phony
flattery is vague and general ("you do great work").
manipulative managers have built extensive
recognition programs and practices around "doing
their recognition thing." They hand out flattery,
compliments, awards, prizes, and such as "Atta boys"
like they would control and reward the family dog
with a biscuit and a pat on the head.
company actually handed out stickers, awards,
plaques, and merchandise as part of their "Atta
Boy/Girl" program of "recognition." Another
"motivational speaker" makes this approach the
centerpiece of his suggested management methods.
Using the training approach for teaching killer
whales to jump high out of their tanks as his model,
he gives out "Good Whale" stickers that are to be
stuck on deserving people or their work. That would
sure make me feel like a valued adult thats
respected as a partner!
Recognition and Appreciation
two groups of people thrive on sincere recognition
and genuine appreciation men and women. Reflecting
on a life of pioneering work, the 19th century
American philosopher and psychologist, William
James, said, "I now perceive one immense omission in
my psychology the deepest principle of human
nature is the craving to be appreciated."
recognition and genuine appreciation are highly
energizing. Accomplishment and achievement should be
our own reward for high performance. But it feels
even better when other people notice and appreciate
what we've done. Recognition and appreciation
continually show up near the top of most lists of
motivational factors. They are key sources of the
fun and excitement, will to win, desire to belong,
and passion so vital to continually improving
effective leaders use a multitude of ways to build
an atmosphere of success, accomplishment, and pride
through recognition and appreciation. But these
leaders aren't central figures in control of the
"goodies." Rather, these leaders model, encourage,
and support people giving recognition and
appreciation up, down, and across the organization
and within and among teams and team members.
16 of Firing on all Cylinders outlines a series of
programs, techniques, and practices for team,
individual, and personal recognition programs. As I
reflect on and compare organization and team
cultures, it's clear that the high energy, high
performance culture radiate sincere recognition and
genuine appreciation. That's why the same
recognition programs that fizzle out in other
organizations thrive in these. It's also clear that
managers who have well developed personal
recognition skills and appreciation habits lead
these vibrant, successful cultures.
Jim Clemmer is a best
selling author and internationally acclaimed keynote
speaker, workshop/retreat leader, and management
team developer on leadership, change, customer
focus, culture, teams, and personal growth. During
the last 25 years he has delivered over two thousand
customized keynote presentations, workshops, and
retreats. Jim's five international best selling
books include The VIP Strategy, Firing on All
Cylinders, Pathways to Performance, Growing the
Distance, and The Leader's Digest. For article
feedback contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org