Recognition…we all crave it

shutterstock_248883307I’ll make a bet with you. A bet that I’m almost certain I’ll win. And that is, that I know what makes you tick.

First, think of at least one example of when you did something awesome at work. Something you’re a little bit proud of. The sort of thing that made you want to give yourself a cheeky high five. But you resisted because, well, can you imagine seeing someone give themselves a high five?

So you did this awesome thing. But no-one said anything. No-one acknowledged it. Not your co-workers and not your boss. Everyone kept trudging on through their day without batting an eyelid.

And this reaction, it deflated you, right? Just a little bit.

It’s like when you launch an apple core from long range across the kitchen and land it perfectly in the tiny bin next to the door. Or when you knock a glass off the bench only to use your cat-like reflexes to catch it before it explodes on the ground. You look around, dust yourself off, mouth wide open, blown away by your own awesomeness. But no-one is there to see it. No-one is there to acknowledge it. To recognise it. To share in the glory of your superhuman powers.

Conversely, think of that one time somebody did see you nail that shot with the apple core. Think of the time someone stared at you in amazement after you caught that glass. Or remember the time your boss or colleague noticed you solving that client problem and called it out? They witnessed it and acknowledged it as being awesome. How did that moment make you feel? A little chuffed I’d bet. You may have tried to straighten your jacket and play it cool, but deep down you were a little pumped. A little proud of yourself. You felt the endorphins rush through your body and that made you happy.

And here’s the kicker. In this moment of receiving recognition, I’ll bet the recogniser feels just as warm and fuzzy as you do. As Mark Twain famously said “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”

You see, employee recognition pushes buttons. This shouldn’t be news to anyone. Recognition makes us feel proud. It provides validation to continue to grow, learn and develop. In a time where ‘disruption’ is king, change is the new black and taking risks is the new norm, employee recognition is more important than ever. Employees need to feel empowered to take risks, to be ‘agile’ and to challenge the status quo. Only then can an organisation truly foster a culture of innovation and change.

So what are you waiting for? Take the earbuds out of your ears. Close your inbox for just 5 minutes and recognise someone. Say thanks or well done. Be sincere and be positive. Not only will you make your colleagues’ day, but you’ll go a long way to making your own. And if you don’t? Well then I guess I lose the bet. But that’s a risk I’m willing to take.


Peter Shepherd, Senior Account Manager and calculated risk-taker