Regardless of the industry, leaders within companies should make creating a recognition-rich environment a priority for their employees. Recognizing the hard work and dedication of their team members can have overwhelmingly positive effects on the atmosphere and productivity of an office/workspace. However, it is more difficult to genuinely praise employees than it might seem. In order to create the recognition-rich environment, employers must be careful to ensure the appreciation given is authentic and serves the needs of the receiver, not yourself.

Drive-By Praise vs. Recounting the Story

Have you ever had an employer walk by and exclaim that you were “doing a great job”? While this is not necessarily bad in itself, it is rather impersonal. It doesn’t go into specifics and can come across as an employer ticking off a mental box to praise at least one person in the office that day. If this is the only type of recognition, an employer offers it can become a problem because employees don’t feel appreciated.

An alternative would be to sit down with the employee and have them discuss the work for which they are being praised. Ask questions such as “How did you do that?’ or “what did you think was the most effective aspect of the presentation?”. Listen to your employee and make them as well as their work the focus. By praising the story behind the work, you are also praising the employee and their stellar performance.

Well-Meaning Lies vs. Authenticity

Giving out compliments like candy can make an employer feel like they are making their employees feel appreciated unless their compliments are false or only said just to make sure they told a certain number of people “good job” that day. Many employers will tell their teams that they told the upper management of the company what an excellent job so-and-so was doing, however, most of the time the bosses never did such a thing.

Create recognition that both feels and is authentic. Many employees don’t understand how the work they do contributes to the company. By remaining transparent and making an effort to show a team just how much their work helps the company, managers can create a more efficient work space and, most importantly, a happier work environment.

Guilt Gratitude vs. Acknowledgement

Almost everyone has been on the receiving end of a manager doling out praise because they feel guilty for assigning too much work, asking someone to work more hours, or making employees work over the weekend. Phrases such as “you have no idea how much I appreciate this” or “I owe you” only helps the person saying such things. The employee still has no idea how much or if the manager appreciates it and can often feel manipulated.

By explaining how much you, as a manager, needed help and how your employer came through and saved the day is a much more effective way to appreciate employees when feeling guilty. Always contextualize the praise. No one should ever be left feeling like they have no idea what they are being praised for, or that is was not genuine.

Too few managers understand these concepts and will frequently say they motivated their employees each day. A 10-year study recently found that almost 80% of employees quit their jobs due to lack of appreciation. By following the above-stated models try to gradually implement these changes and watch the positive transformation in the work environment.