Cheap Recognition is Worse Than No Recognition

Recognition programs are used by employers to drive performance and achieve certain goals that are important to the overall success of the organization. Done correctly, a well-defined recognition program can drive extra effort from employees who love recognition, and see it as a way to track their personal performance. Set a high watermark and watch in amazement as your team’s competitive spirit reaches new levels – to win! It actually makes the day-to-day work much more enjoyable when there is a “pot of gold” at the end. Even a simple and inexpensive plan to publicly recognize employees for a job well done can make a huge difference in performance and morale. It creates and ignites that competitive spirit that pushes us hard to win. It’s a good thing. We love to win!

Unfortunately, it works the opposite way as well. Recognition plans with no specific performance metrics yield, well, nothing. In fact, a lousy recognition plan or the absence of any plan just sends the wrong message to the troops. Poorly defined plans that are loosely tracked create distrust, loss of productivity and just sends the wrong message. Let me help translate the unspoken message:


That’s not the outcome any organization wants to experience. I’ve seen examples of both and know firsthand the importance of a well thought-out, easy-to-understand plan. Recognition plans need to be clearly written and easy to understand and track. I especially love plans that are specifically designed to accomplish a goal that promotes encouragement by management and by peers. And yes – the actual award and the way it is given needs to mean something. To get the best return for the organization and the award recipient(s), it needs to be a very big deal.
So the next time you think about giving some cheap low-value award to an employee who outperforms your expectations, wins and makes a difference in your organization, don’t be surprised the next time you try to implement a similar plan and get the same message:


Always Listen Before Speaking

It’s crazy to be writing on this topic as this issue is all about something we learned as kids – hopefully from a very early age. Some call it etiquette, while others just refer to it as “good manners.” Whatever you call it – make sure you’re practicing the art of listening and hesitating before you start interrupting anyone during a conversation – especially during an interview. Let them finish their thought and wait for a break of silence before jumping in. Interruptions are just plain rude and sends all kinds of mixed messages to a potential hiring manager. C’mon people – get in the game.

For some of us, we just can’t help ourselves. Our brain is already spinning with ideas and thoughts we feel we must “blurt out” before we forget what’s on the tip of our tongues, while others just like to take charge and drive the conversation. They need the floor! Whatever your reasons or excuses are for interrupting someone during an interview or raising your voice and decibel level to make a point – you’re downgrading your value each time you exhibit that sort of behavior. It’s akin to a loudmouth door-to-door sales guy who wants to sell you something before he knows what your needs are. Not good.

Develop your own technique to delay that urge to interrupt if you just can’t control your urge to barge in on someone during a conversation or an interview. If you can’t help yourself, at least use your manners. I coach candidates on pivoting all the time, especially when I detect or experience interruptions during our interview. Let the person finish their sentence – wait 2-3 seconds to gather your thoughts before responding to a question or adding to the conversation. It’s really not that hard, but you’d be very surprised at the number of very well paid professionals who just don’t get it. They’re too busy trying to finish sentences for the people they’re talking with or attempting a “one-up” by having a more interesting or compelling story to tell.

The basic rule of thumb here gets back to my first point – just remember what your parents said when you were a young child: it’s rude to interrupt. Your parents were correct – it is rude!