Recognize

faces

It’s performance review season, and a lot of you are thinking about ways to show recognition for the people you work with (and maybe get a little for yourself along the way).

At one of my past jobs, we had a regular survey that went around to get feedback on employee sentiment, challenges, growth opportunities, etc. Every time, people responded that one of the biggest areas of improvement was around a lack of “recognition” for their work.

A flurry of posts would go out from the managers and leads in the ensuing weeks announcing the great work by this and that and that person. And they’d all pat themselves on the back for helping to “recognize” their people. Yet the scores never really went up.

But the reason I consistently marked that as an area for improvement (yes, it was me!), and the reason so many people I talked to felt “unrecognized” wasn’t a lack of thanks or celebrations or tshirts (there’s certainly no lack of those).

Real recognition isn’t about my name on the screen at an all-hands. It’s about making sure I’m involved when you start working on something related to my work.

Too often, the same ones who scrambled to publicly “recognize” their people went right back to planning and discussing, privately, things that directly related to the work those people did.

I know everyone can’t be involved in every conversation. Sometimes a small group has to make decisions. But there’s a lot of room in between.

If you recognize someone for what they did, then you recognize what they do. And that means you have an opportunity to make sure they’re able to do it again, in the times and places where it’s the most valuable.

So yes, write up all the wonderful work your colleagues did last year, and let them know where they could do more. But don’t let it end there. Remember the things you said they accomplished (or better yet, look at the things they said they did), and invite them in when you start working on something similar this year. I guarantee they’ll recognize you for it later.


Also published on Medium.