Recognize Great Work

Recognize Great Work

This article from the Harvard Business Review stresses that this is the one thing you can do to be a great boss is to recognize your employee’s great work as least monthly. I want to share a mantra I learned along the way that uses this concept and two others. These could help you or your bass to become at least a better boss or possibly even a great boss.

  1. Catch employees doing something specific right at least once a week and recognize them for this.
  2. Get employees the resources they need from their perspective.
  3. Give employees a chance to shine.

1 Catch employees doing something specific right at least once a week and recognize them for this.

Starting off with the first item what does this article from the Harvard Business Review have to say? They suggest when you see something being done right, recognize it right away and do it consistently and regularly. I concur, but as leaders and managers we are really busy and how can you do this? You have to make this a priority. If you are truly there to help your employees then you will understand. The best managers are there to help their employees. They are there to help and educate. These are servant managers.

If you wait until you see the entire job done right you are in for a long wait. Imagine wanting your employee to make 7 of 10 free throws at the free throw line in basketball and they have never dribbled a basketball before. Maybe a good place to start would be by explaining the long term goal with a series of intermediate goals starting with learning how to dribble and pass the basketball. From there may be the next task could be dribbling the ball while keeping their head up, passing the ball and for the first time trying to shoot a basket from right next to the basket. You get the idea. As a coach you break up the task into many smaller tasks and recognize excellent achievement right away. You also coach and encourage each step along the way. The same is true for business.

Keep in mind that various parties may have different ways they want to be recognized based on generational and cultural differences. The article presents some nice commentary on this topic. Check out the charts in the article.

With generational differences millennials will need more encouragement more often than baby boomers. I used the link above on generational differences when I spoke to a group of managers at the State of Minnesota a few weeks ago. These are generalizations. There are of course exceptions. However, this chart points out some differences for how you may want to treat different generations. Treat all employees as individuals but be aware of some of the generational differences.

2 Get employees the resources they need from their perspective.

Regarding the second item keep in mind this if from the employee’s perspective. Do not micromanage. Ask them what resources they need. Ask them as individuals. What can you do to help them? Sometimes you cannot get them the resources they need. Brainstorm with them on how can we complete the task with the resources we have? Do not micromanage. I can’t state this emphatically enough, however, make sure you listen and address their concerns.

3 Give employees a chance to shine.

Regarding the third item how can you give your employees a chance to shine? There are all sorts of ways. Get to know your employees. Understand their personal situations. What do they like and not like. What do they do for fun? What is their life story? What is their family situation? As you develop a relationship with your employees and begin to understand what is important to them, you will begin to understand how to give them a chance to shine.

Ask them which of these ten things are most important to them and have them number them from 1 to 10.

  • Full appreciation for work done
  • Feeling “in” on things
  • Sympathetic help on personal problems
  • Job security
  • Good wages
  • Interesting work
  • Promotion/growth opportunities
  • Personal loyalty to workers
  • Good working conditions
  • Tactful discipline

Then ask them how are you as their manager doing on the first three (1, 2 and 3 as prioritized by the employee) and ask if you as their manager are spending to much time on the bottom 3 (8, 9 and 10 as rated by the employee). Take this into account when you consider how you can give the employee a chance to shine.

This article points out how a large group of employees rated their top priorities and how managers thought employees would rate their top priorities. Having done this many times with employees I can tell you the variances among employees are wide. Check it out with your employees.

Having read the article above from the Harvard Business Review and having given it some thought these were some initial ideas from my own managerial experiences. I hope this can help you to implement this with your group. As a leader you can use this article to present some ideas to your boss to help him or her become a better boss and who knows maybe even a great boss. Your goal should be to improve personally and to help your team and your boss to be all they can be too.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]