Global Recognition Stereotypes: Don't Believe the Lie

Recognize This! – The power of employee recognition and appreciation knows no geographic or cultural boundaries.

I hear time and again that “it’s different over there.” Or “They do things differently. They don’t have the same expectations our employees here have.”

I hear this most often about the Asia/Pacific region and usually specifically about China. “We can’t recognize employees individually over there. They don’t want that kind of recognition. It goes against their culture.”

Really? Out of six items listed in an article in the China Daily on the “essentials every employee wants in their job,” recognition and culture were two of them:

Appreciation and recognition – Employees want to feel that their contributions are appreciated and that they are being rewarded for their achievements. Recognition does not always have to be extravagant or costly. For many people, a simple thank you note, a genuine compliment or praising their work in public or to senior management can carry a lot of significance but cost the employer hardly anything to provide.”

“Corporate culture – Due to the large amount of time they spend at work, many employees may place a strong and positive corporate culture high on their list. More often than not, the senior management of an organization is responsible for shaping and determining the company’s culture – and their values, beliefs and vision will have a trickle-down effect on their employees.”

If you hear the refrain “they’re different over there” in your organization, keep in mind the experience of one of our clients in their Asia/Pacific region. Instead of playing into the stereotypes, they made their recognition program available to all employees, everywhere in the world. As a result, they saw the greatest increase in recognition – and in employee engagement, which increased 25% in the first year – in the Asia/Pacific region.

Culture matters. Recognition matters. Everywhere in the world.

Does your company buy into global recognition stereotypes? What are you doing to combat it?

Derek Irvine

About Derek Irvine

The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition, he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.

8 Responses

  1. Gord Demers says:

    Dear Derek,

    Thanks for producing such a thought provoking and useful book and blog on recognition.
    I have a question regarding the increases in recognition and engagement so frequently referenced in your writing as a measurement of successful strategic recognition. When you say that there was a 25% increase was it a 25% lift of the orginal score (I.e. 40% to 50% – a 25% increase) or 25% of 100% as a possible score (I.e. 40% to 65% – also a 25% increase.) When proposing a strategy to executive, I want to make sure what numbers I am looking at; so is it the first or second example? Sincerely, Gord Demers

  2. [...] I’ve written before about the hazards of ceding to stereotypes about the employee recognition in other cultures. None is often so incorrect as the “people in China (or German or France) don’t want to be recognized.” I addressed the Chinese recognition stereotype directly in this article, especially the need to understand local needs and deliver local rewards. [...]

  3. [...] to be backwards in my logo (picture at right for email subscribers). This was intentional. While the need for recognition and praise is truly universal, the spelling of the word “recognize” is not among English-speaking [...]

  4. [...] culture of recognition and one language of appreciation and praise, applied strategically so that local cultural expectations are honored globally, brings the balance needed in today’s widely distributed [...]

  5. [...] culture of recognition and one language of appreciation and praise, applied strategically so that local cultural expectations are honored globally, brings the balance needed in today’s widely distributed [...]

  6. [...] “Going global” with your recognition efforts is not sending certificates in English across the globe nor blindly shipping merchandise tens of thousands of miles only to sit in customs offices. [...]

  7. [...] “Going global” with your recognition efforts is not sending certificates in English across the globe nor blindly shipping merchandise tens of thousands of miles only to sit in customs offices. [...]

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