The Power of Positive Recognition

Rene' Boer People


Napoleon once said that a soldier will fight long and hard for a strip of yellow ribbon.  Although compensation is important, don’t underestimate the power of positive recognition. So, when you see something, it’s important that you say something.  Often, as bosses, we’re so focused on issues and obstacles and solving problems that we don’t slow down long enough to just simply recognize people for things that they’re doing well.

There are three simple ways that you can do this.  First, nothing is more powerful than a sincere thank you. When you write a personal note to someone thanking them, it can be very powerful, and at the same time very inexpensive. Just fill out a card, lay it on their desk, or put it in an envelope and mail it to their home. When was the last time you had a thank you note mailed to your home?

Second, when you have employees that are working very hard on project, but haven’t yet produced results, it sure is nice to recognize them for their efforts.  So, send them a note to their home or lay it on their desk, that says, “I appreciate your efforts.” It lets them know that you noticed and that you appreciate them. 

And third, for those people that hit the cover off the ball, send them a note that says, “Well done!” I had a boss in a previous life that would send these kinds of notes to my home and, every now and then, he would address those notes to my wife, thanking her for supporting me. Now how cool is that?

There are also some great ways to personalize recognition and reward programs. I want to share a story about David Novak, who at one time was the President of KFC. His award was a rubber chicken. Honest to God, he would buy a rubber chicken and write a note on the chicken with a Sharpie, thanking someone for their achievement. Then, he would present that person the Rubber Chicken Award in front of their peers. He would have a photo taken of himself with that person, then have that photo framed and hung on the wall of his office.  He would also send that person the photo. 

The Rubber Chicken Award was the most coveted award within KFC.  And, what did that cost, 99 cents? But the power of that positive recognition was just tremendous.