The recognition gap

This email from the Gallup organization landed in my mailbox this morning:

Sixty-five percent of Americans received NO praise or recognition in the workplace in the last year, reports a Gallup Poll.

And the number-one reason people leave organizations is that they don’t feel appreciated, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.

A serious recognition gap exists in most organizations, and that gap seems acceptable to many. Yet Gallup’s study of nearly 5 million employees reveals that increasing the recognition and praise in organizations can lead to lower turnover, higher customer loyalty and satisfaction scores, and increases in overall productivity.

An article by Chuck Martin on the Darwin site quotes an employee saying:

“Recognizing great work is one of the easiest responsibilities of leadership, and the most poorly executed.”

If you believe the Gallup and Department of Labor data, it’s not just a touchy-feely issue (though appreciation does make people feel good). It’s an economic issue. Just total up the cost of finding, hiring, and training a new employee.

These are some of the “reasons” I’ve heard for not appreciating and praising people at work:

  • It’s what she’s paid to do.
  • She knows I value her work. (He knows because he can read minds).
  • If I tell him he’s doing a good job, he’ll stop striving, he’ll become complacent.
  • It will go to his head.
  • It’s too touchy-feely. These are engineers; they don’t care about that mushy stuff.

    I think there’s another reason, one that isn’t spoken: I’m uncomfortable complimenting, praising, and appreciating people.

    So try an experiment.

    Do this in a low risk situation, like maybe at the grocery store, with the carry out boy.

    After he’s loaded your groceries in the car, look at him and say “I appreciate you for helping me.” Watch what happens.

    Next week, say, “Thanks.” Watch what happens.

    See a difference?

    Don’t just try it once, try it 10 times.

    Then try it when your partner or kid does something you like.

    Telling people you appreciate them makes a difference.

    Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman say so.

    Jerry Weinberg says so.

    Chuck Martin says so.

    I say so.