When it comes to employee recognition, The Power is Yours!

shutterstock_153174755Green-mulleted men are a great source of inspiration.

I’ll let you digest that for a second. Go on.


How about a hint.

I’m thinking of one particular green-mulleted, earth-saving, blue-skinned, red-chested superhero.

Are you with me now?

I speak of course of Captain Planet, and his famous saying “The Power is Yours!”

This catch-cry is true in almost any context, and is particularly relevant when it comes to employee recognition.

In my last post I suggested: “take the earbuds out of your ears. Close your inbox for just 5 minutes and recognise someone. Say thanks or well done.” And I’m curious. Did you follow through?

So often we let our good intentions slip. We procrastinate. We deflect. And in a work context, this attitude can also filter into ideas of recognition and encouraging positive behavioural change. Comments like, “Well it’s his job to do this, so I don’t need to recognise him for it.” Or, a favourite, “I’ve been too busy to say thanks to Claire. I’ve got a lot on my plate.”

But we can all do better than that. After all, who wants to be in a workplace where people are “too busy” to say thanks? Too busy to tap knuckles with their colleague or deliver a killer ‘nice work’ nod of the head? In his bestselling book How to win friends and influence people, award winning writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie outlines three universal principles that should be followed when dealing with other people:

1. Don’t criticise, condemn or complain

2. Give honest and sincere appreciation

3. Arouse in the other person an eager want

On point two, he draws on the well-worn quote from noted psychologist William James: “the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

Sound familiar?

We spend so much time with people from work, why not create a culture that is conducive to appreciation and happiness? A culture where employees feel valued every day.

Making a difference is not as difficult as you might think.

So next time you notice a colleague do something valuable, or something you really appreciate,  don’t stop to wonder whether it’s ‘recognition-worthy’. There’s no right or wrong answer. Instead, be that guy. Be that girl. Be the one who starts a revolution! You don’t need a C in your title to drive behavioural change.

Employee recognition doesn’t need to be reserved for actions that save the company millions of dollars (although admittedly that’s a nice outcome). It can be a simple ‘thanks for the coffee’. Or, ‘I really appreciate the lift to work’. Or even a ‘thanks’ for holding the door open. In fact, these small things can have an even more powerful ripple effect on those around you.

There will be some of you who read this and make the conscious decision to start a movement today. You’ll acknowledge someone’s work.  And then you’ll do it again tomorrow. And it will make a difference to how the people around you feel. To how you feel.

Take solace in Simon Sinek’s lecture that people around you WILL notice generous and humane behaviour. They’ll notice it and then mimic it themselves.

And if they don’t? Well that’s on them. Don’t be disheartened. Remember, “THE POWER IS YOURS!”