Author Archives: Management Associates

The Most Profound Form of Recognition

We have previously suggested that recognition is, at the most fundamental level, an acknowledgement of the worth of a human being. But how can we tell if someone really values us? What demonstrates their regard? What are its tangible, outward manifestations?

When asked this question in workshops, participants often say things like “they seek me out,” “they spend time with me,” “they share thoughts and ideas with me,” “they ask my opinions,” “they listen with real interest.”

The behaviors they describe shed light on a fundamental truth of human interaction: that involvement is perhaps the most profound form of recognition one human being can give another.

You can applaud your children’s intelligence or maturity, but if you do not involve them in decisions affecting the family—buying a new house, moving to a new city—that praise rings hollow.

You can tell your wife you love her, but if you never seek her thoughts or opinions, she will not feel valued. Involvement is one of the clearest and most immediate ways to acknowledge the worth of another human being.

Expressing appreciation for efforts and thanking people for the work they do is extremely important. But words alone can only go so far. Sharing information, discussing ideas, or soliciting input demonstrates regard in a way that few other leadership actions can.

Involvement communicates an appreciation for talents and contributions by actions, and not just words alone. It shows that you value people’s capacity to think, not just their capacity to work. And that is a message that can transform a workplace.

Involvement: Path to Increased Ownership

Countless leaders seek to strengthen ownership and personal responsibility for organizational initiatives in their workplace. What many don’t realize is that involving employees  in decision-making processes can be a powerful way to build such support. We once worked with a fire chief who had been budgeted money to buy a new truck. He was looking… Continue Reading

Unity, Discord, and the Reality of Human Nature

If it is in fact true that organizational performance rises with growing levels of agreement, collaboration, reciprocity and shared vision, why do leaders accept significant (and largely avoidable) costs of disunity?  Much has to do with widespread below-the-line beliefs that disunity is just the way things are. “It’s human nature,” clients have again and again… Continue Reading

Involvement, Group Decision-Making, and the Path to Optimum Solutions

Involving employees in decisions that affect them and their work is crucial to capturing the human spirit in the workplace. Leaders, however, often resist involving employees in day-to-day affairs. Such reluctance stems in large part from leaders’ perceptions of both themselves and their employees. Because they were promoted into a position of leadership (and their… Continue Reading

Mental Models That Inhibit the Recognition of Employees

Recognition of and appreciation for the efforts of employees is central to a culture of engagement, ownership and commitment. The success of such initiatives, however, depends on more than questions of how, when, and in what venue. Leaders’ efforts at offering recognition are shaped — and potentially limited — by a host of below-the-line mental… Continue Reading

Appreciating What Employees Do and *Can* Do

Recognizing employees’ efforts is critical to building workplace morale  and motivation. But it can also play an important role in building new skills and capacities. We once surveyed a software development firm in Nebraska. Meeting with a cross section of staff members, we asked a range of open-ended questions, one of which was, “How do… Continue Reading

Perception and Challenge of Communicating Appreciation

Sufficiently recognizing and appreciating the efforts of employees poses challenges at all levels of the organizational chart. Everyone from vice presidents to fry cooks say that they hear about every small mistake they make, but only rarely are told when they have done a good job. This is due, in large part, to distortions of… Continue Reading

Appreciation: The Heart of Recognition

When it comes to the role of recognition in the workplace, the knowledge base is clear: we human beings want to be appreciated and valued in the work we do. Recognition, though, is only as good as the spirit that animates it. As a fundamentally above-the-line behavior, recognition can be disingenuous as easily as it… Continue Reading

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