Category Archives: Choice

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 models, attitudes and values. And unfortunately, these beliefs often rest on assumptions from the past that are becoming increasingly discredited.

Such misconceptions include:

  • Not part of a leader’s job. Many leaders conceive of their job in purely operational terms. In their mind, their job is to ensure that patients’ needs are met, that marketing campaigns are launched on time, that products are produced efficiently and reliably. Lost in this view is the means by which these goals are met, namely, the human side of leadership. If leaders do not see building an effective human system as part of their job description, it goes without saying that they will fail to accurately recognize their employees. This view inaccurately frames recognition as a perk that is, ultimately, unnecessary.
  • Pay is enough. Some leaders feel that personal appreciation from a leader is not necessary, in light of the economic dimensions of employment. The paycheck employees receive is thanks enough, many feel, and any expectation of recognition or appreciation beyond that is unreasonable and unwarranted. Leaders of this kind typically believe that money is the primary or only reason that human beings work. This view, however, is contradicted by research suggesting that money in fact more often serves as a source of demotivation than motivation.
  • Neediness. Some leaders question why they should be expected to applaud “every little thing” employees do, and bristle at the idea of “babying” employees for fulfilling responsibilities that were theirs in the first place. Objections of this kind spring from below-the-line attitudes that frame recognition as a form of psychological immaturity to be grown out of.  Such attitudes are not uncommon, but behavioral research has consistently shown recognition and validation of one’s efforts to be a basic psychological need of human beings. Refusing or neglecting to provide such recognition does not make organizations and employees stronger, it makes them weaker.

Efforts to express appreciation for employees’ contributions rest on basic paradigms about human nature and the responsibilities leaders hold in regards to the people they oversee. To effectively offer recognition, then, leaders must reflect not only on the choices they are making, but on the personal beliefs that drive and shape those choices.

Taking Stock: Three Critical Elements

Crucial to growth as a leader is a comprehensive process of personal stock-taking, an ongoing discipline of objectively looking at our actions and beliefs and considering the effect they have on the individuals and systems around us. Though such reflection encompasses many constituent elements, three seem to be of particular importance: knowledge, choice, and perception.… Continue Reading

The Wake of Leadership

Employee ownership, commitment, loyalty and initiative are key to any outstanding organization.  But astute leaders know that such qualities are too important to be left to chance. They must be woven into the fabric of workplace functioning. They must, in other words, be made a part of organizational culture. Take a moment to think about… Continue Reading

Choice: The Work/Home Connection

Organizations struggle not only because leaders don’t know what choices to make, but also because they simply don’t make the choices that they know are the most productive and constructive. This is an issue that lies at the heart of leadership. But it also affects our relationships with those outside the workplace.  Time and again… Continue Reading

An Act of Mindfulness, An Act of Will

Leaders often feel handcuffed by circumstances beyond their control. And in many ways they are powerless to prevent or alter such externalities. But while leaders may have limited choice over what happens to them, they have almost unlimited control over how they respond. We all, whatever our role or title, live in a world filled… Continue Reading

The Primacy of Choice

We previously explored the human knowledge base and its importance to building effective human systems. Unfortunately, knowing something isn’t the same as acting on that knowledge. Any roomful of leaders can rattle off a long list of characteristics that define outstanding organizations. The systems headed by those leaders, however, will often fail to manifest the… Continue Reading

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