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Give Recognition to Your Team

We often hear employees' complaint, 'Why doesn‘t my manager see the value of my work?'

Is it really difficult for managers to give recognition to employees' work? Employees want recognition when they have done a great job. Annemarie and Nate point out that employee recognition is a low cost and high impact way of motivating employees.

Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work. Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.

(Annemarie Mann and Nate Dvorak, Employee Recognition: Low cost, High Impact, Workplace, Gallup, 28 June 2016)

Some managers are reluctant to express their appreciation of the work done by the employees or don’t know what to do. Some managers may still think that monetary reward will do the recognition work.

As we talk about employee experience nowadays, managers need to shift their focus to use non-financial rewards more to reinforce a meaningful employee experience.

An Example

Let me share what I learn from one of my former managers.

I was part of the Asia Pacific Human Resources (HR) team in a large business segment. During the year, my manager, the segment AsPac HR Director, periodically shared feedback with me on how I was doing and what opportunities that I could pay attention to. At the end of each year, he wrote a business review letter to all business leaders in the segment. He would describe the impact that each of us made to the businesses in the year with our names specified in the letter. The list of recipients included not only business leaders, but also Group level leader and our Global HR Director of the segment. Behind the scene, whenever my manager met with the business leaders and the global colleagues whom we worked with, he asked for feedback on how we supported their businesses.

While I worked with all HR Directors (both business and country) closely, I was thrilled to read what my peers did in their respective areas. None of the peers was left out in the business review letter. I remembered that the work projects were very challenging in the first year. The letter struck me with a “wow” effect. It was totally unexpected to read the letter. I appreciate my manager who reaffirmed the team effort of supporting the business leaders. The letter was a wonderful Christmas gift to wrap up the year for the HR team.

As of today, I am still keeping a copy of all the annual business review letters.

Some managers may find the idea of writing letters to showcase the team work to the whole world over-whelming. I am a firm believer that the positive effect on employees having such a high level of exposure to business leaders, even at the Global level, is beyond what monetary reward can simply do.

If you want to start recognising team members' achievement in a gentle way, perhaps you can start with writing a short thank you note to each of them of their achievements. Make sure that recognition is provided to your team close to the time after they have done astonishing work. It makes them feel valued for their work.

There is no fixed form of recognition. Be authentic, creative and personal to appreciate your team.

I share this story in memory of Mr Byron Sulieman, my manager and my mentor.

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Norris Wong is an independent Human Resources consultant who supports employers & Human Resources leaders to address people issues with a people centric approach. If you would like to get help on your people issues, drop me an email at to start a conversation.

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