The power of recognition

In a very short TEDEd talk (TED Talks on education), Victor Rios, educator and author of Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys, talks about a teacher who changed his life by encouraging him to empower his community with his story. *

This made me think about the value of recognition and acknowledgment. The right encouraging words at the right time can really brighten up someone’s day or even change someone’s life. I sure wish I was told I had some kind of talent when I attended high school. Or that my boss had genuinely complimented my work from time to time.

And apparently, I’m not the only one:

A recent whitepaper commissioned by Fortune 100 Best Company to Work For and Great Place to Work® …. , investigates the root cause of great employee performance and how managers can tailor their workplaces to promote it. … Overall, 37% of respondents stated that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work more often. While other themes like autonomy and inspiration did surface, recognition was the most dominant, illustrating the importance of affirmation, feedback and reward for motivating employees to do their best work.”*

In a TEDx talk, consultant Christopher Littlefield also talks about recognition, acknowledgment and praise. However, he also emphasises how it often makes us uncomfortable. We crave it, but it makes us uncomfortable. We need to learn how to deal with sincere compliments.

In another Forbes article, “study by Bersin and Associates revealed that companies that provide ample employee recognition have 31% lower voluntary turnover rates than companies that don’t—a good sign that those employees are happier. ” *

All sources do stress the fact that you can’t fake recognition. You should be specific and authentic, and you should only do it when it’s really deserved.

A study from 2013 by 3 Belgian university professors however were the first to show that “employee recognition could also have negative effects on the emotions of others and interpersonal behavior (i.e. interpersonal counterproductive behavior).”

– TEDEd Talk Victor Rios:
– Christopher Littlefield: 
– Whitepaper Great place to work:
– Forbes – The secret to motivating your team:
–  Feys, Marjolein, Anseel, F., & Wille, B. (2013). Responses to co-workers receiving recognition at work. JOURNAL OF MANAGERIAL PSYCHOLOGY, 28(5), 492–510.



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