In looking through the post history on Recognize This!, I realize I’ve been remiss in directly addressing the most critical components for successful, impactful, meaningful employee recognition – timely appreciation and praise.
Sure, I’ve written on the importance of timely recognition in conjunction with other best practices such as frequent recognition, specific and detailed recognition messages, but never with the focus timely recognition deserves.
Why is timely recognition important?
1) Intimately links recognition to the action or event being recognized
People forget. When we hold off on recognizing desirable actions or excellent results until an end-of-year bonus or quarterly meeting, the employee often forgets the context of the reason they are being recognized.
2) Encourages recipients to repeat behaviors
A consequence of delaying recognition also means the employee may not understand how impactful their actions or behaviors were. With timely recognition, employees now clearly understand expectations and know what you want them to achieve or repeat. With that knowledge and the appreciation of their efforts, employees are both more willing and able to repeat desired behaviors and actions more frequently.
3) Drives motivation by recognizing progress for meaningful work
Extensive research shows the most important factor for employee motivation is making progress in meaningful work. We must not delay recognition until completion of a major project. In some groups or industries, those projects can take years to complete. For example, in a pharmaceutical research organization, bringing a new drug through the discovery, investigative and approval process can be very lengthy. It’s important to recognize the people involved as they make progress along the way, achieve key milestones, or demonstrate desired behaviors in line with core values as the push to reach the end goal.
Do you find recognition to be more meaningful when it happens in the moment than many weeks or months later?
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 "The Power of Thanks" and "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.