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Rewarding & recognizing: 3 tips

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in Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers,People Management

Rewarding and recognizingWhether they give a pat on the back or a kick in the butt, great managers reward and recognize their people quickly.

Napoleon Bonaparte observed, “A solider will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” Studies show that people work harder for recognition than they do for money.

Although the money is important and you must pay your people fairly, acknowledgment counts for a lot. Don’t underestimate the power of recognition and the effectiveness of feedback, both positive and negative. Here are three recognition disciplines that will help.

1. The 24-hour rule

Always give positive or negative feedback quickly, ideally within 24 hours. Waiting any longer than that to give positive feedback reduces its impact. It won’t seem genuine and could be perceived as an afterthought.

And waiting to give negative feedback until you have a laundry list is ineffective and puts people on the defensive. They’ll shut down and often miss your message.

It leads to resentment and failure to change behavior. So, giving feedback within a day will change the behavior that you want.

2. Public and private recognition

As you give positive and negative feedback, you should always criticize in private and praise in public. Never mix either of these up.

Criticizing people in public will destroy whatever level of trust that you have built with them and damage your relationship.

On the other hand, recognizing and celebrating someone’s achievements in private misses the opportunity for someone to shine in front of their peers.

To expand a little on this topic, whenever you have constructive criticism for one of your direct reports, always give it in private, as most can handle it behind closed doors.

And when you have praise, always give it within earshot of as many people as possible. A great idea is using companywide meetings as a platform to recognize people in front of their peers.

This fills most people up. It’s like fuel. You’re energizing them to work harder for everybody around them.

3. Boss versus buddy

It’s also important to always be their boss, not their buddy. It’s OK to have a friendly relationship with direct reports, but you must understand the fine line between being in charge and being in the trenches. Don’t cross the line. If you do, you’ll never be a great manager.

When the line is blurred and you consider them more of a friend, you can never fully apply these practices due to potential hurt feelings, or having to tiptoe around tough issues and dilute the real message.


Gino Wickman and René Boer are authors of the new book How to Be a Great Boss. Visit www.eosworldwide.com.

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